Thursday, April 28, 2011

Final fantasy 3

Functions of fantasy

Dream and daydream (fantasy)
In terms of personality structure night dreams and day dreams (fantasy) are somewhat similar. In dreams (night) the Parent and Adult ego states are almost completely decommissioned and cease to influence the personality at all.

Sleep ego states

With the Parent and Adult decommissioned the conscious is gone and the person is left only with their unconscious. This is why Freud used dream interpretation, when asleep the unconscious can gain expression free from any conscious control. Thus it provided an important way of understanding the unconscious.

In daydreams or fantasy the Parent and Adult are also decommissioned but to a lesser extent than when asleep. Thus it also affords an opportunity to understand the unconscious as well.

Obviously in a daydream the content is under conscious control unlike a night time dream, at least initially. Sometimes daydreams may start at one point and end up at an unexpected point for the dreamer. Also daydreams are a 100% personal event. No one will ever know about them unless they are told of the content. Whilst a group of people have some Parent ego state restrictions about fantasy content as was described in Final fantasy 2, for most the content is completely uninhibited. Anything can be fantasised and thus the unconscious desires, conflicts and so forth are given a wide range of expression. Like they are in night time dreams. There are very few other circumstances where the unconscious is given such freedom of expression as in fantasy and dreaming.

One advantage that fantasy interpretation has over dream interpretation is that it tends to be more literal. As there is some level of conscious control the images created in daydreams they are more obviously related to the psychological forces behind them. In dreams the images created as less obviously related to the psychological content behind them.

Types of day dreams (Temporary)
Self soothing
Wish fulfilment
Self aggrandisement
Defence mechanism
Reflection of current issues - conflict, sexual, aggressive, etc.

Sometimes day dreams can serve a number of these reasons at once.

woman warrior
Zena warrior princess

An example is provided by Kahless who says:

“My day dreams generally revolve around me performing a heroic but fatal deed.

I used to day-dream being a secret agent, or a fireman, or Lara Croft.

These days I am just me. This very morning I day-dreamed that I was at work, in a meeting and armed gun-men stormed in. They said they would release everyone if someone volunteered to play russian roulette. I volunteered. I looked them in the eye and said "come on then fuckers."

I fantasise aka day-dream, a lot.

In real life, people around me say I am courageous. I think I am and I am not. Sometimes I like to just plain put my head in the sand.

Maybe this links into my blog name and my avatar.

Kahless - a Klingon warrior
and a lion who maybe from the Wizard of Oz.” (end quote)

Watch this space


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Final fantasy 2

What is fantasy
It seems safe to say that fantasy or daydreaming is primarily a cognitive task. It involves thinking about stuff. So how is this different to memory? Memory is also a cognitive exercise that involves the recollection of past events but it has nothing creative in it where as fantasy does. Fantasy has to involve the fantasizer being creative and thinking up new ideas where as memory does not. Memory involves no creative thinking.

However it should be noted that memory and fantasy can often go together. Each of us at some time has recalled a past event (memory) and then fantasised about what I really wanted to do and say in that situation being recalled. As psychological research shows human memory is very fallible and is notoriously unreliable. This may explain one way by which it can become unreliable.

Memory + fantasy = new memory.

Over time the person comes to believe the recollection of the facts of what happened is indeed a recollection of the facts that did happen plus fantasising about the event.

Jester face

The other thing about fantasy is that it has to result in some kind of mood change or serve the person some kind of psychological advantage. It seems safe to say that over time a person will not engage in a cognitive task if it does not benefit him in some way.

Thus we have three main characteristics of fantasy:
It is a cognitive process
It involves creative thought
It causes some change in mood or leads to some kind of psychological advantage

It is sometimes said that the more intelligent are more likely to be neurotic. From my observations I would tend to agree with this truism. The more intelligent one is the more they can think up the thoughts required for a neurosis to exist. If the person who reports a snake phobia is asked what they think about snakes they may say something like they are all slithery and slimy and hide and jump out at you when you don’t expect it. The person of low IQ is less able to think up all the bad things just cited about snakes.

With this in mind we now can assess a persons ability to fantasise and indeed their propensity to use fantasy as a way to cope or use it neurotically.

Monkey baby

IQ + CQ = FQ

Intelligence quotient + creativity quotient = fantasy quotient

The higher the intelligence and the more able one is to think creatively the more propensity one has to fantasise.

Magical thinking and fantasy
Are these the same thing? Magical thinking in the technical sense involves a person believing something that is magical. If they do or say something that will result in some outcome that defies the laws of nature. For instance a man who prays three times every night as he believes it will prevent his mother from dying. Or the father who believes if he has angry thoughts about his daughter she will get ill. If a woman walks under a ladder she is convinced she will suffer bad luck.

These could be seen as fantasy thinking and thus one could say that fantasy is a central part of magical thinking. It transcends from fantasy to magical thinking when the individual ceases to realise it is fantasy and takes it to be factually true.

Ballet girls shooting

Fantasy and behaviour
This is a misunderstood area that has caused much consternation over the years. It is not uncommonly presented by clients in therapy and most often relates to sexual or violent fantasies.

I recall recently a woman presented with what she referred to as a phobia of sharp implements. She reported being very frightened to open the draw in her kitchen and seeing the sharp knives. After further investigation it was discovered this caused much anxiety because when she saw the knives she would have thoughts of stabbing someone with them. She was most concerned that she would stab someone.

Indeed it was not really a phobia of sharp knives, instead she was frightened about the violent fantasies she had which were precipitated by viewing the knives. She was concerned that because she had violent thoughts that meant she was going to act on them. Not an uncommon connection which a lot of people make.

However it is a quite erroneous connection to make. Fantasy and behaviour are two quite different things, that involve two quite different psychological processes. The vast majority of people who have violent fantasies will never live them out and behave in a violent way. To be physically violent to others one has to have a particular psychological make up. One has to be under socialised. This diagram shows the usual socialised individual:

Socialized personality

The vast majority of people have this psychological make up at least to some degree. There are specific groups who don’t, such as many in the prison system. In society in general the vast majority of people are socialised to not physically hit others. The person may feel frustrated such that the Free Child ego state wants to hit out or they may have violent aggressive fantasies. The vast majority of people have such aggressive or violent fantasies at some point and they will never act on them.

Their Parent ego state has been socialised such that it thinks hitting others is not right or an OK thing to do. Also the Adult ego state knows if you hit others you may be charged by the police with assault. Thus they never act on such violent fantasies.

As an example. Have a violent fantasy now and make it a good one where you can be as violent as you want. Of course you can, its JUST a fantasy. In fact have six violent fantasies in a row and draw pictures of them all one after the other. Then walk outside the house into the public. Are you going to hit anyone? I wouldn’t because I don’t want to hurt others and also I don’t want to waste a lot of time and money dealing with police, lawyers, courts and so forth. I have better things to do with my time and money.

Violent fantasy does not equate to violent action. If there is no parental socialisation against hitting out then there may be. If the persons thinking does not allow for the Adult controls to take effect then there can be. This is a very small group of people. The vast majority of people are adequately socialised in this way. It is not about the violent fantasy its about the structure of the personality of the individual having the fantasy.

I asked of my client who was scared of sharp knives.
Have you any criminal record?
Have you ever been charged with assault?
Have you been questioned by the police?
Have you ever stabbed someone or been physically violent in the past?
As a child were you ever physically cruel to animals or kill any?

girl & gun

Of course she answered ‘No’ to all of these. She has no history of any physical violence at all, in fact she is a kind and caring woman. That means it is extremely unlikely she will at the age of fifty years suddenly have a violent outburst and stab someone with a sharp knife. Instead she allowed herself to have all the violent fantasises she wanted, worked on some anger issues she had and that was the end of that problem.

What I am suggesting above is a fantasy is just a fantasy, simply a particular series of thoughts about something that does not mean the person wants to live it out in real life. Sometimes even the scientific literature fails to see this.

The psychological literature is interesting at times. It has certain things deeply embedded in it that the general public rarely hear about. Although quite interesting the press seem to avoid it for what ever reasons they have.

Over the years a significant body of research has evolved on the topic of rape fantasies which women have. A 2009 article in the Journal of Sex Research found that:
62% of women have had a rape fantasy
The average frequency of such fantasies is 4 times per year
14% of women who have such fantasises have them at least once per week.

9% find the fantasies complete aversive (fearful)
45% find them completely erotic
46% find them both aversive and erotic

There is some considerable variety in the content and form which these fantasies take.

These fantasies are of particular interest to psychologists because why would women have fantasies about something so repugnant? Two explanations have been proposed to answer this question.
1. These fantasies tend to occur in women with high sex guilt. Because the fantasy involves force she cannot be blamed for its sexual content.
2. They are just the natural expression of an open and guilt free approach to sexuality.

To my mind the question just cited fails to make the distinction between rape in real life and fantasy rape. As I have suggested above they are two quite different things. A fantasy is simply a series of creative thoughts that has little meaning for actual behaviour (in most instances). However as I have mentioned before they can be useful diagnostically.

My explanation for women having rape fantasies has little to do with actual sex. Rape is more about power than about sex. The rapist in real life has power issues that have become eroticised. I would see the same in rape fantasies. The woman has power and control issues. It may be that she feels she has little power and control in her life and she has eroticised that. On the other hand she may be the powerful one in the relationships in her life but she desires to be the dependent one and has eroticised that. There maybe many other things which the fantasy may mean depending on the actual content and form of the rape in the fantasy.

This post has sought to define what fantasy is and what are some of the features of fantasy. Fantasy is used for a whole variety of psychological reasons and that will probably be the content of Final Fantasy 3. For those of you who don’t know Final Fantasy is a very popular video game.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Body script and holding patterns

Demonstrating the body script holding patterns of various personality structures.

Body script holding styles

To get a more detailled look at this picture. Click on picture > Click on actions > Click on view all sizes

Also of note is the inner physical feelings and their relationship to psychosomatic disorders


Drawing showing how psychological meaning can become located in various parts of the body. It is where the Child ego state decides to locate itself in the physical body.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Final fantasy 1

Childhood fantasy

In the previous post

Sex and fixation (Part 2)

I state the following

“Even more descriptive is the fantasy life of the person. These can be very useful diagnostically and this does not only refer to sexual fantasies. When interviewing a client I often ask the question: “What daydreams do you have?”. I do not use the word fantasy because people will often assume I mean sexual fantasy. In my question I am referring to all fantasies, sexual and non sexual, as they can be a rich source of diagnostic information.” (end quote)

Fantasy or day dreams are something that we are all capable of. The child’s ability to fantasise is seen to start quite early. Indeed a good part of childhood play involves fantasy of some kind.

Kiss kid

Psychological development scales include the following in normal child development

30 - 42 months
Animates objects
Can play the role of a baby
Plays with imaginary objects
Plays with an imaginary animal

36 - 48 months
Impersonates an animal
Has imaginary friends
Personalises objects

5 - 10 years
Impersonates another person
Has an alter ego type of imaginary friend

From a child development point of view fantasy is of particular importance in the later childhood stage of development or what Freud would call the genital stage of development. In Transactional Analysis theory this is when the P1 aspect of the personality is forming.

Lillith and fantasy

If problems arise in this stage, the person grows up with this aspect of the personality not correctly forming, or a fixation to this stage develops. For instance the person may then use the defence mechanism of fantasy as a way to cope in adulthood or may become that type of person who spends a substantial portion of their life in fantasy or daydreaming as can be found sometimes with the schizoid personality.

In counselling children sometimes parents seek therapy with a child who is about 3, 4 or 5 years of age. They report concern for their child who seems to have suddenly developed a number of fears. It may be the bogey man, fear of the dark or witches, ghosts, or some one under their bed. The parent is concerned this is because something has happened to the child and it is now full of irrational fears.

This can certainly be the case. If the child has been bullied at school, there is marital disharmony at home or suffered some kind of trauma then there can be a sudden rise in such fears as just described. However if the child is about this age then it may not be that at all.

Child & fire
My imaginary friend did it

As the child grows the brain develops such that its fantasy life becomes more sophisticated. Around 4 years of age many children become capable of thinking up scary fantasies such as the bogey man. Prior to that the child was too ‘dumb’ to think up such fantasies and as a result did not have any fears of such things. Now the child has the neurological capability of thinking up such frightening fantasies they do, and thus they end up scaring self.

If this is the cause then one simply deals with the child in the usual way you would with any scared child. Provide the Nurturing Parent reassurance, comfort, caring and then the Adult ego state information. Look under the bed to see no one is there, provide information that ghosts don’t really exist and witches are things in movies and not in real life.

The problem some parents have is they do not understand the meaning of this for the child. If a child complains of the bogey man it is often seen as cute and funny by the parents and they forget the child is experiencing real anxiety and do not use the NP and A to deal with the child’s fears. This also may happen with a child who develops an imaginary friend. It is very easy to discount the child’s experience in such circumstances. An imaginary friend is again a very cute and funny childlike thing and thus the importance of the child’s ‘friend’ can be discounted by parents.

indian woman

The P1 fantasy stage of child development has other interesting features. Along with the fantasy, it is a ‘Harry Potter”’ stage of development. Lilith and the demon subpersonality are also forming. More on this later.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Desensitization and dissociation

If one does not desensitize, when placed under stress they will relatively quickly collapse psychologically, become incapactited, incapbable of functioning at least in any significantly productive way. When confronted with very unpleasant or painful stimuli the person must desensitize in order to psychologically survive and remain a functioning individual. For instance, a soldier enters a war zone and sees his first mutilated body. In reaction to this his Free Child ego state will be shocked to some degree. The sensitive part of his personality gets damaged or injured.

In order to cope with this and remain functional he has to hide away the FC part of his personality. He has to desensitize or he will be overwhelmed and go into a state of incapacitation to some degree at least. This is shown in the two diagrams below:

Non desenstize dia
Diagram 1

Desensitize dia
Diagram 2

In the first diagram the Free Child can be open and exposed to the environment as there is no unpleasant stimuli confronting it. If painful stimuli does occur the person has to begin the process of desensitization and restructure their personality to a state indicated in the second diagram. That is meant to indicate the FC is hidden behind a wall or sealed off in some way. For most this is a natural and instinctive process that will automatically occur even without the person realizing it. If successful in making this transformation of the personality the person achieves a state where the FC is protected and thus is less sensitive to painful stimuli. The person is in a desensitized sate of mind. By the time the soldier sees his fifth mutilated body it has less impact on him because he has been able to restructure his personality as described above.

Some people cannot make this transition to a state of desensitization. They cannot transition from diagram 1 to diagram 2. This is likely to be found in those who are childlike to some degree. They have weak Adult and Parent ego states and may have injunctions like, “Don’t grow up”. In the desensitized state the Adult and Parent take over more of the functioning in the personality. If those ego states are weak the person will have a tendency to go into some kind of incapacitation rather than desensitize.

Angry girl

An example of this could be hysterical paralysis. This is sometimes found in soldiers who have been placed in very frightening and life threatening circumstances. They are simply overwhelmed with fear and develop a paralysis of the legs. There is no medical reason for the paralysis. Instead the FC is not adequately protected in the personality and thus it unconsciously incapacitates with the paralysis. The soldier then cannot function and is removed from the theatre of war.

The process of desensitization
Consider this graph

Desensitize graph
Diagram 3

In the initial stages there is no stress and thus the person will not desensitize and they can function in an effective way to deal with any situations life presents them with. If the person is placed into a ongoing stressful situatuion such as entering a war zone then he is subjected to stress and hence the desensitization process will instinctively begin. For instance seeing a mutilated body. This may cause in him some kind of shock and revulsion. When this happens the FC will automatically start to seal itself off. If there is no assault to the senses then the desensitization will not occur. Desensitiaztion will occur more significantly and rapidly if the person knows it is likely there is more painful stimuli to come.

The soldier in war knows it is highly likely there will be more horrible things for him to cope with probably quite soon. If it is just a one off situation desensitization may occur but in a less dramatic form as the FC knows it does not have to prepare itself for future asssaults. If you see a car accident where a child is killed it is highly likely that will not occur again tomorow so the desensitizing is less so.

The graph is meant to indicate that the desensitization occurs at an inverse exponential rate. Initially there is a rapid rate of desensitization as the shock and stress occur. As the desenistization develops subsequent shocks will have less impact and thus less subsequent desensitization will occur. It seems reasonable to conclude there is a direct correlation between the degree of shock experienced and the degree of desensitization that results. Eventually, it is hypothesized, one reaches their optimal level of desensitiaztion and then there is a plateau effect.

Fire monkey

Should the period of stress cease such as when the soldier is sent home then the need for the desensitization ceases. The FC does not need to be protected like it has in the past. It could be expected that over time the level of desensitization will slowly reduce. That process will be substantially facilitated if the person can do some ‘working through’. That is they talk to someone about what happened and how they felt and they are given a sympathetic response. That can be to an official therapist or to someone else who can take on that role to some degree such as a spouse, relative or close friend. The degree of shock and horror experienced dictates the degree of working through that needs to be done. The person is transitioning back from daigram 2 to diagram 1.

As mentioned before when desensitized the person hides away the sensitive parts of the personality. Humans can not survive for long periods without access to the sensitive aspects of them. If it does persist for an extended period of time then some other problem will evolve such as depression, anxiety, alcohol problems, insomnia, anger outbursts, flashbacks or simply an emotional coldness which leads to relationship difficulties. Common symptoms found in PTSD. Indeed part of the teatment of PTSD is to again resensitize the individual.

There is another way to cope besides desensitization which also hides the FC away from painful experiences. That is by dissociation. This can be seen as a more severe coping style. For some reason the person feels they must take more drastic action than just desensitizing. This can also occur in miliatry personell and is also not uncommonly found in people who have been physically and or sexually abused as children. It is also often reported by torture victims.

Dissociation dia
Diagram 4

With dissociation there is said to be a splitting of the personality. When this is the case the person will report in some form, “That is not me”. They will experience self or part of self as not belonging to them or as separate from them. When this is reported one can consider dissociation as an explanation. Desensitization and dissociation both serve the same function of protecting the Free Child from further assaults but operate in different ways.

Desenistization can be seen as a normal human response to trauma. The vast majority of people will engage in this psychological process instinctly as a way of protecting self. Dissociation could be considered less ‘normal’ and is used less commonly as a way of coping. It will usually be used when circumstances are more psychologically and physically dire. For example in childhood with physical and sexual abuse and in adult torture victims.

Friday, April 15, 2011

TA Singapore conference. Nov, 2011

Come to this conference.
Just click on any image for a larger size view

Singapore conference 1

Singapore conference 2

Singapore conference 3

Singapore conference 4

Singapore conference 5

Singapore conference 6

Singapore conference 7

Singapore conference 8

Singapore conference 9

Singapore conference 10

Singapore conference 11

Singapore conference 12

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Military training

Where I live, in recent times there has been a good deal of discussion about what some young trainee soldiers did at a military academy. One male student had ‘relations’ with his girlfriend who was also at the military academy. Whilst this was happening he video tapped it and streamed it out live via Skype to some of his cohorts. These people were all in their late teens or early twenties.

This has lead to an outcry by many about the mistreatment of women in the military. One can safely say it was mistreatment of a particularly humiliating kind. A bad thing was done indeed. Social commentators, politicians and the press to some extent are all expressing their indignation at this. But is the blame going in all the right directions?

I have worked with many who have served in the military at some time. I always find particularly interesting from a psychological point of view how the military train their personnel.

What has to be achieved at some point is shown by this diagram

FC desentitization

The FC or the sensitive aspects of the personality have to be sealed off. I have diagrammed this by showing the FC being hidden behind a wall so to speak which will protect it from a very unpleasant environment. The sensitive aspects get hidden so in essence they become desensitised. You cannot have sensitive people going into a war zone as they will simply not psychologically cope. The military training has to desensitise them before they get there.

To get a person to desensitise or hide away their FC one has to assault them in some form. They have to be brutalised in some form as that is the only way the psychology of the individual will do what is required of them as shown in the diagram.

Lady rifle

How does one brutalise a trainee solider? There are a whole variety of ways to do this.

Firstly one can physically assault them. I imagine this is not allowed these days in military training, so they get them to physically assault each other. Hand to hand combat training and body contact sports would do the job there. Other than this you verbally assault them, demean them, humiliate them, threaten them, scare them, make them exercise to the point of vomiting or exhaustion, leave them with no control over their life, dehumanise them with uniform haircuts and clothing, train them to think that the bad guys are subhuman, get them to do repetitive meaningless tasks and so forth.

All these will get them in the right psychological frame of mind to handle a war zone situation. We need them to go into a war zone and be brutal, to kill other humans. If we brutalise them first then we train them to be able to brutalise others. Now all this is good and well except for when they come home and they are in that same frame of mind but that is for discussion at another juncture.

If you brutalise young adults (mainly males) in order for them to be brutal to others then you can’t be all that shocked when they behave in a brutal way. What those males did to the female one could say was brutal. I suspect in their minds they would have seen it as a practical joke. Clearly they need to understand the severity of what they did and it is not just a practical joke. But they were doing what they had been trained to do - be brutal.

To be able do this to a ship full of human beings one has to have a particular psychological frame of mind.

However, we see politicians get up and ‘crucify’ these young men and how they behaved in such a depraved way. Perhaps we (larger society) need to also accept some of the responsibility as well. Acknowledge that we support a system that brutalises these young male adults so they can go and fight the bad guys and keep us safe. At the same time some of them get killed or mutilated along the way.

In the public statements being made on this topic one does not see a lot of people saying what I am saying. Politicians accepting some of the responsibility for the brutal acts by these young adult males? One never sees that. Other public commentators are now given a ripe opportunity to vent their anger at how bad the youth of today are and seizing the moment with zest. Will they acknowledge their part in how these young men behaved - I think not.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book update

I did a bit of a search for my book

Working with suicidal individuals

in libraries.

With mother. Young psychotherapist
Myself as a young psychotherapist with my mother at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco

And found the following:

James Cook Uni (Aust)
Dublin Institute of Technology
University of Cambridge (UK)
Library of congress (Aust)
Oxford University library (UK)
Trinity College Dublin
British Library
Bromley Library service (UK)
University of Missouri-Columbia

I have looked long and hard for a way of doing a search of libraries world wide and as far as I can tell it does not exist. This surprised me a bit as I thought libraries would have moved with the times and established a world wide search system of some kind. But it seems they don’t. The only searches I have been able to do are sort of small random ones which show up on the internet.

Unless there is some smart person out there who knows of a way to do such a thing?

Ring necks
Do they have a copy in their local library?

It’s kind of a funny feeling seeing my book in the Dublin Institute of Technology library. My book is over there in Ireland on some book shelf. Kind of I wonder who decided to do that and why? It’s like they should be telling me or something.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sexual dysfunction (Part 3)

In this third part of the series on sex and sex counselling I arrive at what was the original motivation for addressing this area in the first place. I have been working recently with a man who presents with the problem of premature ejaculation (PE). This is not an uncommon problem to come across as a counsellor however in this instance there are a few noticeable differences.

In this case it was the main up front presenting problem which he sought counselling for. Most often PE will arise as a kind of side issue raised by the man a few weeks or months after counselling has commenced. This may be because he is embarrassed about it and hence procrastinated about bringing it up or it may be that it is seen as less of a problem. In this case it was brought up near the end of the first session after much struggle. He was clearly distressed by it much more so than one usually finds.

Man in empty chair

To my mind the whole area of PE is a dodgy one. It is included in the mainstream literature on abnormal states. Indeed the DSM-IV has it there included with all the other sexual dysfuctions. However unlike some of the other dysfunctions listed it is based on an assumption. The assumption that good, correct, normal, psychologically OK sex has to involve intercourse. This need not be so at all. Emotionally and physically satisfying sexual contact between two consenting adult does not have to involve intercourse.

So why does this assumption exist? I can think of three possible reasons.
1. Biologically the reason for having sexual contact is for procreation and thus intercourse is required.
2. Historically religion has had some clear views on the purpose of sexual contact and the sin that comes from simple pleasure of the flesh.
3. Historically psychologists have defined healthy sex in such a way that intercourse is required. Sex without intercourse has historically been defined as a psychologically abnormal act. Now it becomes clear why I wrote the previous post - Sexual repression (Part 1) - where I address this precise point.

nun looking

In the DSM-IV the diagnostic criteria for PE includes two points.
1. Ejaculation after minimal stimulation and before the person wishes it


2. Marked distress caused by this.

Thus the DSM is at least partly agreeing with the point I am raising here. The premature ejaculation itself is not considered a problem. It must also be accompanied by psychological distress.

That distress will be caused sometimes because of the assumption I have just described. If one removes the assumption there is not going to be so much distress if any at all.

The problem I have with the DSM-IV and hopefully this will be changed in the DSM-5 is the title of the disorder. It is titled - Premature ejaculation - which is a misnomer. This title implies that it is simply the premature ejaculation that is the problem regardless of the distress or lack of it. It would be more aptly named, ego dystonic premature ejaculation. This is more accurate and would also help people like my client when they come across statements about abnormal psychology such as found in the DSM.

rose reds

The suggested title comes from the DSM-III. This book published in 1980 included the category, ego dystonic homosexuality. As late as the 1970s homosexuality was still considered an abnormal psychological state in the mainstream literature. In its efforts to extract homosexuality from the pages of the texts on abnormal states the DSM chose this interim measure and coined the condition - ego dystonic homosexuality. By the time the DSM-IV arrived in 1994 even that had disappeared and mainstream literature no longer viewed homosexuality as an abnormal state.

Back to the point at hand about PE. The manuals on the treatment of PE invariably focus on behavioural methods such as the stop and squeeze technique. Whilst certainly useful in some cases, I also suggest working on the assumption the man has in his Parent ego state, that ‘proper’ sexual contact must include intercourse. I cannot recall ever seeing such a proposal in a PE treatment manual. If the Parent ego state belief about ‘proper’ sex can be altered this can significantly disempower the PE problem in the man’s mind,. If that occurs then any technique like the stop and squeeze method is more likely to be successful and even if it isn’t that doesn’t matter anyway.

Thus we have addressed the behavioural treatment and changing the Parent ego state assumption about ‘proper’ sex. Also often apparent is some kind of Child ego state decision. With my client this was the case. His distress was based on his Child belief that the PE meant he could not function properly as a male. Thus it brought his sense of his maleness into question and this was what was so distressing for him.

green man

There can be many other Child ego state beliefs related to the PE. There may have have been some kind of sexual assault on him as a child or ridicule by his peers that related to sexual matters when engaged in sex play and experimentation as a child. Indeed sometimes PE is an aggressive act against the woman - “I am going to satisfy myself and not you”.

However despite all this, if one chooses not to accept the assumption aforementioned then PE as a problem ceases to exist.


Third order structure

Oral stage issues
Pre-verbal issues
Hamartic life script
Life positions = I-U-, I-U?, I+U?
Personality disorders = Anti-social, narcissistic, borderline, dependent

Third order structure - Child
For a closer look click on the picture
Then click on "Actions" and then click on "View all sizes".


Monday, April 11, 2011

Sex and fixation edit #1 (Part 2)

In the previous post it was mentioned that some sexual behaviour can be reflective of infantile fixations:

“Freud was able to show that the perversions represent fixations at levels of infantile sex adjustment”. (end quote)

In my view this is true. If a person is fixated at the oral stage of development that can cause all sorts of symptoms which reflect that level of fixation. The person may develop alcoholism or the habitual smoking of cigarettes. It can result in all sorts of problem emotions like depression and despair. It can result in relationship problems where the person has a fear of abandonment and that disrupts their ability to relate in a healthy way.

If an oral fixation can interfere in a persons life in the ways just described why should sexual behaviour be any different. Of course it is not and thus we have the basis for sexual behaviour being influenced by the psychology of the individual. Indeed one could argue that fixation in a person’s child development is more likely to effect their sexual behaviour than other non sexual behaviour. This is because sexual behaviour can involve high levels of emotional and physical intimacy between two people thus making it more susceptible to the influence of developmental fixations.

The diagram here shows how life script decisions form the basis of the personality and on top of that sit observable behaviours, feelings and reportable thinking patterns:

Decision under behave

In Transactional Analysis terms as a child we make life script decisions. In CBT these are referred to as thinking errors. This makes us what we are, it is the foundations of our personality. These influence how we operate on a daily basis by influencing our behaviour, feeling and thinking which of course can include sexual behaviours and feelings. In this way the life script decisions will determine what a person finds erotic and what they do not.

This can be most useful diagnostically. If a client is willing to disclose in some detail what they find erotic in their sexual practices, in their sexual fantasies and in any pornography they may view one can make diagnoses about their underlying personality structures. Sometimes people are not willing to disclose such intimate things and the underlying personality structures can be ascertained by other means anyway. However what a person finds erotic can provide very useful information about a client which of course is helpful in their overall therapy.

Water woman

For instance the female who finds the sexual position of being on top particularly erotic can indicate all sorts of things about the psychology of her relationships with males. That may be her feeling that she is the controlling one in the relationship or her feeling that she isn’t the controlling one but has a strong desire to be.

Even more descriptive is the fantasy life of the person. These can be very useful diagnostically and this does not only refer to sexual fantasies. When interviewing a client I often ask the question: “What daydreams do you have?”. I do not use the word fantasy because people will often assume I mean sexual fantasy. In my question I am referring to all fantasies, sexual and non sexual, as they can be a rich source of diagnostic information.

People have daydreams or fantasies about all sorts of things they would never actually do in real life and thus it can be a much richer source of diagnostic information. That includes both sexual fantasises and non sexual fantasies. Related to this is the viewing of pornography, although this tends to be relevant much more to males alone. With internet pornography so varied and accessible the male can get very specific about what he finds erotic at a fantasy level.


However getting back to the point at hand, what one finds erotic can be determined by childhood fixations and thus the quotations in the previous post do have a sound theoretical basis. Drug taking is a pathological behaviour that can result from a fixation at the oral stage of development. That same fixation can also result in man developing a highly erotic attachment to oral sex. Does this mean the oral sex is also a pathological behaviour? One could argue yes, as both behaviours originated from the same psychological process.

Adjunct to this is the idea that when one takes a drug habitually that supports and solidifies the underlying life script decision. The cycle is set up - the behaviour supports the script decision and the script decision supports the behaviour. The same could be seen with the erotic attachment to oral sex. The sexual behaviour supports the script decision and the script decision supports the sexual behaviour.

Smoking woman

The idea presented in the previous post was that one could have sex in such a way that no pathology was supported by the sexual behaviour. I summarised it as such:

“Non perverted sex involves peno-vaginal intercourse with the female in the supine position. Penetration cannot be less than two minutes or longer than one hour. Orgasm should occur preferably simultaneously and leave both in a state of complete detumescence. Sex should occur less than twice a day and more than once every two months. The male can be semisadistic and the female may be semimasochistic. Foreplay is permitted as long as it does not involve any perverse touching or sucking and the end of the sex act must be with coitus”. (end quote)

An interesting idea indeed, that one can have sex without supporting an underlying script decision by engaging in sexual behaviour that does not fit with the cycle described above. As I said an interesting notion, but I would also say, the chances of it actually working are next to nil. What people find especially erotic is fixation based in the personality. I would imagine that even if people are aware of this there is very little likelihood of them stopping that sexual behaviour which they find most erotic.

This is not the end of the story. This provides the basis by which one can more accurately ascertain the prognosis of various abnormal states. But that is for the next post.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sexual repression (Part 1)

When one looks at the social psychology of sexual difficulties and sexual repression in modern society there is usually a focus on religion. How it has placed considerable prohibitions and guilt on various sexual behaviour. This, it is hypothesised has resulted in sexual problems and difficulties for a considerable number of people over many hundreds of years. It is indeed still regarded as doing the same in these modern times although it is less influential than fifty or a hundred years ago.

On the other hand psychologists have been seen as almost liberators of this sexual repression and thus society is seen as now being more mentally healthy. Freud in his focus on sexuality and the psyche is at times seen as a sexual liberator from the repression. There is however another side to all this and psychologists have in some ways contributed to a sexually repressed society in a more damaging and insidious way.

Religion is clear in presenting a certain moral view point about a lot of matters including sex. When they present their views people know what they are getting. On the other hand psychologists present themselves as scientists who provide information that is based on scientific fact. It is not opinion or value judgements and people will usually take this to be true.

World religions

The following come from

Brown, J.F.
1940. Psychodynamics of abnormal behaviour. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc: London.

This seventy one year old text book was for undergraduate psychology students as an introduction to abnormal psychology. Chapter nineteen is titled - Abnormalities of sexual behaviour. After completing the degree these psychology students were released onto the public to counsel them on a variety of matters including their sexual behaviour.

This book presents the following on what is considered abnormal sexual behaviour. It is based on the theories of Freud who was the main source of scientific information on such matters seventy one years ago.


“Sexual perversions represent behavior in which the release from sexual tension is obtained by practices other than that of normal heterosexual coitus. These practices usually involve contact of the sex organs with other bodily organs, such as the hand, the mouth, ot the anus.”

“Freud was able to show that the perversions represent fixations at levels of infantile sex adjustment”


“We further know that the intermixture of the aggressive urges with both homosexual and heterosexual erotic urges occurs in all individuals. Consequently, all individuals exhibit in their normal sexual behavior some aggression. This is seen in the semisadistic acts of the normal male and the semimasochistic acts of the normal female. The average healthy male often desires to create at least an attenuated form of pain in sexual behavior. The average healthy normal female enjoys being partly hurt.”


Sexual perversion occurs when “...the means to arrive at sexual satisfaction do not end in coitus,...”

“The basic criterion of a normal coitus is that both parties should experience the orgasm through coitus and preferably, although it is not great importance, simultaneously.”

“The sexual properly performed should leave both individuals in a state of complete detumescence.”

“Certainly for individuals living in normal marriage relationships it can be said that coitus occurring once a month or once in several months is too rare. Likewise we may say that over a period of time coitus occurring as frequently as once or twice a day is too often.”

P374 - 375

“It is quite obvious that coitus which lasts only a minute or two or in which the orgasm of the male occurs before penetration - the so-called ‘ejaculatio praecox’ - is not long enough, whereas coitus which lasts an hour or more is too long.”


“For this reason the preliminary pleasure or the foreplay of the sexual act is very important, particularly for the female. In this category is included all the forms of behavior which lead up to the actual act of coitus: thus kissing, fondling, stroking are of importance.”
(end quote)

So there we have it.

Non perverted sex involves peno-vaginal intercourse with the female in the supine position. Penetration cannot be less than two minutes or longer than one hour. Orgasm should occur preferably simultaneously and leave both in a state of complete detumescence. Sex should occur less than twice a day and more than once every two months. The male can be semisadistic and the female may be semimasochistic. Foreplay is permitted as long as it does not involve any perverse touching or sucking and the end of the sex act must be with coitus.

Man in fridge

We had an entire generation of psychologists counselling people with this training in abnormal psychology. These psychologists would then have informed their clients of this and I assume informed them of what was psychological healthy sexual contact. These days this is seen as quite odd, one could even say perverse to suggest to clients that they desist from sexual behaviour that does not conform to the above. Thus we had a generation of counselling therapists who were supporting sexual repression and all the resulting psychological damage which that causes.

However it must be remembered that these psychologists were acting in good faith. The above based on the scientific facts available at the time. Indeed it makes one wonder when those counsellors in seventy one years from now look back at us and what we currently believe and have the same reaction of, “OMG how could they think that”!

Lady screaming

This is not the end of the story. There is indeed some truth to the quotations above. But that is for the next post.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Abandonment and engulfment

Relational issues in emeshed and distancing families. In essence a list of symptoms to make an assessment on.

engulf symptoms

The symptoms described in the fear of abandonment will pressure the partner to do precisely that - leave.

Stingray 2

Behind the fear of engulfment is the fear of rejection - thus I reject them before they reject me.