Notes on Sexual Communication
I believe most of us have stopped investigating the matter once we learned that we are sexual for the sake of procreation, for perpetuating the race, so to speak.
The interesting thing is that we are not just sexual in a general sense, but we are specifically sexual as we all have specific tastes and needs. We do not really know why this is so. Sexology has not answered the root question, why we are sexual—it only investigates what we do when we behave sexually. This is logical because sexology is based upon the assumption that sex serves procreation. What if this is a wrong assumption, and if procreation is only a byproduct in our sexual pattern of behavior?
Religions have appropriated the task even much earlier in history to regulate sexuality in saying that we are sexual for procreation, and only for that purpose. If that was a right answer, we have reasons to doubt it, for it was not based upon research, but upon religious doctrine, and had the purpose to ensure ecclesiastical control over men and women.
A little excursion into the world of zoology shows us with much evidence that not only humans are sexual, but the whole of creation. All living beings are sexual, in lesser complex and more complex ways than we are. The human being has been said to be sexual in a rather complex manner. It’s really not just stick-in-a-hole behavior, to say it with a slogan.
In addition, psychology has found that humans, and here we perhaps well differ from animals, have rather complex sexual fantasies, fantasies that astonishingly often involve sexual violence, even in cases that the subject is assessed as ‘sexually normal’ and ‘socially adequate’ by psychiatry.
What does that mean? It means that on the psychic, subconscious level, we are sexual for deriving very specific forms of pleasure from sex, not for having a purposeful sexual life in the sense to conform with a need for procreation.
For if the latter was true, why should the imaginal realm, which is according to psychiatrist Robert M. Stein of primary importance for mental health, be involved in our sexual behavior—and very much so?
The paradoxical situation is namely that humans still procreate somehow, while their sexual fantasies are definitely not about procreation, but about all kinds and all variations of tactile, oral and genital pleasure. This was called ‘The Pleasure Function’ by Herbert James Campbell and other neurologists and neuropsychologists.
—Herbert James Campbell, The Pleasure Areas, London: Eyre Methuen Ltd, 1973
When I asked myself the question ‘Why are we sexual’ many years ago, my spontaneous answer was:
—We are sexual because we are sensual!
Am I asking what comes first, the hen or the egg? No, I indeed have reasons to assume that sensuality is the greater systemic connection and that sexuality, whatever it is, is embedded in what I will later define as ‘physical sensuality’.
A holistic regard upon sexuality shows that it’s a behavior that is basically a form of body communication, but which is in turn embedded in something more encompassing, which is sensuality. Without understanding what sensuality is, we can’t really understand sex.
Herbert James Campbell’s research on the pleasure areas in our brain brought to daylight that sex is by no means the only form of physical pleasure we know, and physical pleasure in turn is only one of three realms of potential pleasure gain. He spoke of physical pleasure, mental pleasure and spiritual pleasure.
—Physical: oral, tactile and genital pleasure
—Mental: intellectual and artistic pleasure
—Spiritual: psychic abilities, religious ecstasy
There is an evolutionary scale in here, a gradation. Most people are focused upon physical pleasure, higher developed beings are also open to mental pleasure and very developed beings are more geared toward spiritual pleasure. But they have in common that they all look for pleasure, not for morality! Please see that very clearly …
They may be lesser interested in physical pleasure, the pleasure of our senses (sensuality), as they may have lesser needs for tactile exchanges, for touching and being touched.
Psychiatry recognizes our need of physical pleasure or sensuality, but is little concerned when a person has a need for mental or spiritual pleasure. Here, our culture does not really talk about pleasure but more so about ‘cultural interests’; psychoanalysis speaks of the sublimation of instincts which allegedly brings about those cultural desires, a view that I do not endorse and find questionable.
From this perspective, it may become conspicuous that sex if not a very special kind of behavior. It is only one of many pleasure-seeking behaviors; as it is related to the physical senses, it is an expression of sensuality. What is sensuality? It is to sense life, with your five senses. It means, in the words of Alexander Lowen, to accept your body, to honor your body. The question is why they want us to be holy animals instead of normal humans?
What is most typical about sensuality is that the need for sensual intake varies greatly, it needs variation for sustaining the pleasure function; it is not fixated upon one kind of nourishment only.
Sexuality is similar to culinary pleasure, while both are sensual pleasures, that variation is sought after. We do not like to eat every day the same. Doing so, we would get a health problem. But variation is also an important element in the higher pleasures, mental, artistic and spiritual pleasures.
The same is true for the body. If you hold your arm stretched out for half an hour, if ever you can hold it up for so long, you will experience strong pain!
If you sit the whole day in meditation, you will experience stiff legs in the evening, which is why Buddhist monks regularly go for walks, at least twice a day, to compensate for the sitting posture they adopt most of the time.