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Post 20

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 7:24amSanction this postReply
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The comments here have been very funny, and I'm happy that some of the female participants are apparently having rapturous sex lives. But let me add a sobering note.

Generalizations about this topic are inherently risky, and much of what I'm reading here seems laden with rationalistic assumptions. This is especially true of the assumptions about female sexuality voiced by some of the males here. (Guys, I have a modest hypothesis: I don't think we can speak authoritatively on female sexuality.)  But even some of the ladies making comments are generalizing from their own admirably adventurous and rewarding experiences, concluding that women who aren't as orgasmic probably have some psychological issue.

This seems to me an instance of trying to shape the facts of reality to fit what is perceived to be Objectivist theory, rather than the other way around.

A long-standing, if tacit, assumption among many Objectivists -- probably arising from Rand herself -- is that if people only held perfect premises in their heads, then their emotions, bodies and everything else would fall into line and function perfectly, too. This assumption is what might be labeled a kind of philosophical reductionism: it denies even the possibility of any biological/genetic influence in personality and emotional responses.

And it is false. We now know, for example, that depression, schizophrenia, other forms of psychosis and obsessive-compulsive disorders often have a physiological dimension, perhaps caused by biochemical imbalances or neurological disorders. Drug treatments that address chemical imbalances in the brain have helped millions to manage these disorders. How unscientific and unjust it is to "blame the victim" for such maladies, on the assumption that "premises" within his volitional control must be the sole cause of his screwed-up thinking and behavior. And how dangerous to scientific progress and human happiness: I wonder if these medical breakthroughs would ever have occurred had rationalists been in charge of medical research, and simply dismissed out of hand the possibility of a biological influence.

If Objectivism preaches anything, it is loyalty to the facts of reality -- wherever they may lead us, no matter how disquieting the conclusions may beThe massive study of female sexual response which gave rise to this discussion tried to control for psychological factors, and concluded that there was still a measurable genetic influence involved, at least with many women. Now this study may be a good one, or it may have flaws. But much damage could be done to millions of women if we simply dismiss, out of hand, the possibility of genetic/biological/physiological influences in their sexual responsiveness. It could even pose a barrier to finding therapies or cures for those women whose responsiveness may be impaired.

Sexuality is a very complicated business, involving the totality of the person -- body and mind, ideas and emotions, experiences and habits, memories and fantasies, and god knows what else. Let's not be too hasty in assuming what the reasons might be for any given person's sexual inclinations, fixations or responsiveness. We still know too damned little about such matters...

...except, of course, for the a priori axiom of Bidinotto's universal appeal to all women. At least in that fact, we have a starting point for further research.

(Edited by Robert Bidinotto on 6/10, 7:27am)




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Post 21

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 8:08amSanction this postReply
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You do make a good point here, Robert.  (Aside from your natural, raw masculine appeal, of course.)

I think in the realm of sex there are of course instances where chemical and biological factors are at the root of the problem, but I am inclined to believe these are far less frequent than the scientific establishment would have one believe.  What worries me about studies like this one is that they give everyone an immediate excuse to "fix" said problems with a happy little pill instead of determining whether the problem lies in their own psyche.  (If one looks at the numbers of Americans on anti-depressants these days, the problem becomes quite apparent.)

I would be willing to put money on the fact that *most* female orgasm issues are mental, just as most depression is not the result of a chemical imbalance.  There will always be extreme cases, of course (and I have seen them first-hand), but in general I believe people are looking for excuses and quick-fixes, rather than having the courage to look within.




Post 22

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 4:23pmSanction this postReply
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Jennifer mentioned all the people on anti-depressants today, so I wanted to note a frequent side-effect of some anti-depressants, namely an inability to reach orgasm.

To me this suggests the ability in question is partly chemically based.

If so, perhaps they can engineer a pill that increases orgasmability. (Is that a word? Yes! Google it and see.)

John



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Post 23

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 4:39pmSanction this postReply
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The topic of sexuality is traditionally private or taboo and yet very provocative, in addition to being an integral part of what drives us. We're given this mixed message that it's something to be hidden and also something to brag about. That's what makes it so difficult to study. Accuracy is endangered by the desire to shy away from the personal, often embarrassing details and the tendency to boast about one's prowess or the heights of pleasure they both give and receive. Even intimate couples can be reluctant to openly share how they feel, either from embarrassment or from a desire to present themselves as a passionate, proficient lover.

Specifically on the topic of passion for life and its connection to sexuality: It's easy to fall into the trap that if something seems plausible it must be so. The simple connection between sex and food sounds right, so it becomes the starting point for generalization that the more passionate the eater, the better the lover. But there is no proof of any connection, just as there is no indication that a person's outward behavior reflects how strongly they react to something. A person can be deeply moved by a piece of music or delight in the flavors dancing on their palette without a strong visible reaction. The person openly weeping after an aria or moaning over each morsel doesn't necessarily feel the pleasure more profoundly. They may just be more demonstrative, or possess less self control. In some cases the elaborate show of pleasure can even eclipse the actual sensations.

People who are quiet about their passions are not less passionate than those who make a lot of noise and fuss, just as those who are loud and showy about their passions are not less sincere that those who are less public. There isn't a simple decoder for who will be the most intense or amazing lover. You never know what you’re going to get until you're between the sheets...



Post 24

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 5:07pmSanction this postReply
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The simple connection between sex and food sounds right, so it becomes the starting point for generalization that the more passionate the eater, the better the lover. But there is no proof of any connection, just as there is no indication that a person's outward behavior reflects how strongly they react to something...People who are quiet about their passions are not less passionate than those who make a lot of noise and fuss, just as those who are loud and showy about their passions are not less sincere that those who are less public.
Angela, though I appreciate what you are saying here, that is not the meaning behind my hypothesis.  I am speaking of mind-body integration.  It does not matter to me whether they show it outwardly -- the question is, do they experience it in the first place?




Post 25

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 5:44pmSanction this postReply
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The article states: "Its findings suggest there is an underlying biological basis to a woman’s ability to achieve orgasm. Whether that basis is anatomical, physiological or psychological remains uncertain, says Tim Spector of the twin research unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, UK, who carried out the study."

This doesn't make sense. If one of the causes of a woman's inability to achieve organism is psychological, how can that be considered biological?

Barbara



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Post 26

Friday, June 10, 2005 - 7:43pmSanction this postReply
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Barbara,

Why, that's easy.

Biocentric psychology.

//;-)

Michael




Post 27

Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 10:34amSanction this postReply
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Biocentric psychology......  that is a new concept for me.  I just know it has something to do with Nathaniel Branden.  I'll only guess that it means that if it feels good mentally, it will feel good physically.  As far as my own experience, that seems to be the case, but I ain't telling too much.


*purr alert*

Michael, I'm waiting eagerly for private lessons.... in bed.   And I'm not talking about reading NB's books either.

purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

(Edited by katdaddy on 6/11, 11:03am)




Post 28

Saturday, June 11, 2005 - 10:51amSanction this postReply
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Kat,
The phrase was coined by Nathaniel Branden to name his own 'school' or theory of psychology. (See the Introduction to The Psychology of Self-Esteem.")  He, at the same time, decried the necessity since few would be required to similarly label their physics as Newtonian or Cartesian. (My example, not his.) He said, paraphrasing, that as he thought of it, he was simply studying -- psychology.

(Edited by Jeff Perren on 6/11, 11:43am)




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