The Pleasure Function

Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis in Human Evolution

Book Contents


The Natural Order (Thesis)

The Destruction of the Natural Order (Antithesis)

Reductionism and Moralism
Repression and Perversion
Love vs. Split-Love
The Disintegration of Sexual Paraphilias
Parent-Child Codependence and Emotional Child Abuse
The Oedipal Mold and Oedipal Culture
Mysticism and Atheism
Denial of Complexity
The Plague of Sadism
Conspiracy Thinking vs. Critical Thinking
Youth Fascism

The New Natural Order (Synthesis)

The Eight Dynamic Patterns of Living
The Twelve Branches of the Tree of Knowledge
The True Religio
Toward a Science of Life
Primary Power and Permissive Education

Research Bibliography

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Page Contents

Pleasure and Patriarchy
Pleasure and Intelligence
Pleasure and Touch
Pleasure and Violence
Pleasure and Childhood

Pleasure and Patriarchy

When we know the intricacies of pleasure, we are wiser, and we can begin to understand the Earth. It is significant that in nature-bound cultures, the theme of sexual lust is met with humor and with a smiling comprehension that comes from the soul, and from the heart. It’s a deep understanding of pleasure and its function in the Web of Life, an intuitive understanding that comes from observing nature, the daily copulation of beings that are alive, in all realms of existence.

And when you come to monotheism-based cultures, with their endless sex taboos, you see that this humor has been transformed into fear. They fear lust more than war, and rape more than murder. They fear all around the pleasure theme, they fear touch and being touched, they fear being fondled, they fear being close to one another.

Thus, simply so, they are estranged from what is natural and good. And the worst is that this estrangement or perversion, this alienation from nature is officially recognized and taught as morality.

They make sure it’s firmly rooted in the minds and hearts of children during the slow and gradual soul murder they call ‘education’.

Children know lust very well, simply because they are alive, and that is why they are so violently turned away from it, using all kinds of psychological and physical tortures.

We have been inculcated with life hate, not the love for life, by this idiotic culture and so-called religion — which is of course no religion, but organized stupidity. And when a man naturally expresses lust, and worse even when it’s a woman, they are frowned upon, but after so and so many glasses of alcohol during party time, they are given a temporary license—under certain well-defined social conditions.

But that license does by no means change the inner setup of it all, the general prohibition, the general disgust that is culturally fed and maintained against all that is around the body and the theme of lust. And when we see the cancer rates and the heart disease rates growing in our mainstream cadaver culture — we wonder. Why do we wonder? There is nothing to wonder. When you destroy lust, you destroy life, and cancer is virtually a disease where the body, as with the plague, the pestilence, rots along and slowly decays under the heavy burden of accumulated morality, accumulated prohibitions, accumulated denials of life and of love.

But of course, conditioned as they are toward their upside-down worldview, they see not their social and cultural cancer as the plague, but call lust itself a plague, as illustrated by the book title The Plague of Lust, by Julius Rosenbaum.

Life requires love and lust, otherwise it dies. That’s simply a fact of nature. The Plague or Black Death, the terrible epidemic that killed millions over several centuries from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance was the result not of bacteria, but of rampant sexual misery. There has never been a plague or anything even remotely similar with nature-loving and sexually active native people, at no time, nowhere in the world.

Pleasure and Intelligence

Herbert James Campbell, a British neurologist, found in twenty-five years of research a universal principle which regulates the whole of our wellbeing and intelligence, the pleasure principle. This sounds like Freud, but it has little to do with psychoanalysis or psychology. What we are facing here are facts proven by natural science, by neurology.

In 1973, Campbell published his book The Pleasure Areas, which represents a summery of many years of neurological research. Campbell succeeded in demonstrating that our entire thinking and living is primarily motivated by pleasure. He found that pleasure manifests not only in a tactile-sensual or sexual way, but also as extrasensual, intellectual or spiritual pleasure. With these findings, the old theoretical controversy if man was primarily a biological or a spiritual being became obsolete, for it is in the first place our striving for pleasure that induces certain interests in us, that drives us to certain actions and that lets us choose certain pathways in life.

Campbell made the revolutionary discovery that our preferences literally change our brain’s neuronet. During childhood and depending on the outside stimuli we are exposed to, certain preferred pathways are traced in our brain, which means that specific neural connections are established that serve the information flow and the memory storage. The number of those connections is namely an indicator for intelligence.

The more of those preferred pathways exist in the brain of a person, the more lively appears that person, the more multi-vectorial will the person be in their approach to managing their life, the more interested she will be in in a large variety of disciplines, and the quicker she will achieve integrating new knowledge into existing memory.

High memorization, Campbell found, is depending on how easily new information can be added on to existing pathways of information. Logically, the more of those pathways exist, the better! Many preferred pathways make for high flexibility and the capacity to adapt easily to new circumstances.

And it goes without saying that sexual experience and variance in sexual relationships makes for many preferred pathways to be established, especially in childhood and adolescence. I would go as far as saying that sexuality is a primary means, and an especially effective way to establish preferred pathways in the brain and thus to raise intelligence.

Pleasure and Touch

This is true not only for full-range penetratory sexuality, but also and with special significance for tactile sexuality and non-sexual tactile contact, skin-skin contact among adults and children, and cross-generationally the mutually desired peau-à-peau between parents and children, tutelary and non-tutelary adults and children, adults and adolescents, as well as adolescents and children.

Campbell’s research indicates that the repression of pleasure that is since centuries rampant in our Judeo-Christian societies has negatively infringed upon human evolution and impaired the integrity of our psychosomatic health. This is exactly what Wilhelm Reich found — without having had at his disposition Campbell’s neurological findings.

Not only neurologists have thought about the basic functions of life and living, but also people who were formerly active in totally different fields of science. American scientists Ashley Montagu and James W. Prescott had different points of departure for their extensive research. Montagu and Harlow wanted to know why small rhesus apes died when they were deprived of their mother while they survived when a soft cloth doll was put in the cage as surrogate of motherly tactile affection. Prescott researched on the origins of violence. He did from the start oppose the age-old myth that man was per se a violent creature even though human history, or what historians saw of it, seemed to prove it.

These and other scientists basically concluded that tactile stimulation of the infant is a main source of early pleasure gratification and a condition for human health, for harmony, and for world peace. Ashley Montagu’s research developed quickly a specific focus on the human skin as a primary pleasure provider.

Grant’s Method of Anatomy defines the skin as ‘the most extended and the most varied of all our sensory organs.’

Grant’s Method of Anatomy (1980), 61.

Montagu’s study Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin (1978) was the final result of thirty years of skin research, not only Montagu’s, but of many other scientists whose research Montagu presents and evaluates in his study. Ashley Montagu’s research is of paramount importance for our understanding of tactile stimulation in early childhood. His specific research focus was upon the mammal mothers’ licking their young. He found most zoologists are conscious of the importance of motherly licking for the survival of the offspring. He discovered that it is first of all the perineal zone of the young that the mother preferably and repeatedly licks. Experiments in which mammal mothers were impeded from licking this zone of the young resulted in functional disturbances or even chronic sickness of the genito-urinary tract of the young animals.

Ashley Montagu concluded that the licking does not serve hygienic purposes only, but is intended to provide a tactile stimulation for the organs underlying the part of the skin that is licked. (Id., 15 ff.)

However, Montagu further concluded, licking is exceptional to happen in the mother-child relationship with primates or humans. (Id., 18)

Most researchers found that for humans, licking was gradually replaced by eye or skin contact between mother and child. The tactile needs of the small child seem to correspond to the desire of the parents to express love through tactile affection such as kissing or fondling, or pressing the child’s naked body against one’s own during sleep or rest, which is common with Eskimos and most other native tribes.

In the run of industrial civilization, however, this has changed fundamentally. Back in the 1960s and ’70s, pediatricians and child psychologists recommended parents to put their children in separate rooms and beds so that parents and children were physically separated. This is the main reason why the civilized child gets much less tactile stimulation in early childhood than children from tribal cultures, a fact that Jean Liedloff demonstrated in her alarming book The Continuum Concept which was first published in 1977.

Ashley Montagu and James W. Prescott, coming from different scientific angles, agree that early tactile stimulation is paramount for the psychic and physical health of the child and later adult. A direct relationship was discovered by both researchers between early tactile stimulation and the functioning of the immune system of the child. This relationship was corroborated by France’s world-famous obstetricians, Frederick Leboyer and Michel Odent.

—Frederick Leboyer, Pour une Naissance sans Violence (1974), Birth Without Violence (1975), Cette Lumière d’où vient l’Enfant (1978).

As Michel Odent writes in his book La Santé Primale (1986):

It is not yet completely understood that sensorial perceptions at the beginning of life can be a way to stimulate the ‘primary brain’, at a time when the ‘system of primary adaptation’ is not yet grown to maturity. More specifically, this signifies for example that, if one fondles a human baby or an animal baby, one also stimulates his immune system. (Id., 24, translation mine)

Montagu states that love was once defined as the harmony of two souls and the contact of two epidermises. In this sense the peau à peau that is now recommended by pediatricians, is a foremost condition for the healthy growth of children, the good functioning of their immune system and, last not least, the early creation of preferred pathways in their brains. Skin contact thus favors high intelligence.

James W. Prescott’s research particularly focused on the consequences of early tactile deprivation in the form of shortened or lacking breastfeeding. In his article Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence (1975)—Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 10–20 (1975)—Prescott uses R.B. Textor’s supra-cultural statistics to scientifically corroborate his highly far-reaching and politically relevant conclusions.

—R.B. Textor, A Cross-Cultural Summary (1967).

Already in the 1930s Wilhelm Reich disproved the widespread misconception that sadistic and destructive tendencies were part of human nature. He strongly opposed Freud and his theory of a death instinct, arguing that destructive instincts are secondary drives, a direct consequence of the cultural repression of the natural sexual instinct which resulted in collective neurosis. In his book Children of the Future (1950/1984), he outlines an emotionally and psychosexually sane education of children for a society that accepts biogenic regulation, the natural self-regulation of biosystems.

Pleasure and Violence

Reich’s sex research, at the time violently opposed by the majority of his scientific colleagues, are confirmed by Prescott’s findings which bring statistic evidence as to the malleability of the human individual through his early tactile experiences or the absence of such experiences:

Recent research supports the point of view that the deprivation of physical pleasure is a major ingredient in the expression of physical violence. The common association of sex with violence provides a clue to understanding physical violence in terms of deprivation of physical pleasure. (…) Although physical pleasure and physical violence seem worlds apart, there seems to be a subtle and intimate connection between the two. Until the relationship between pleasure and violence is understood, violence will continue to escalate. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 10–20 (1975), at 10–11)

Unless the causes of violence are isolated and treated, we will continue to live in a world of fear and apprehension. Unfortunately, violence is often offered as a solution to violence. Many law enforcement officials advocate ‘get tough’ policies as the best method to reduce crime. Imprisoning people, our usual way of dealing with crime, will not solve the problem, because the causes of violence lie in our basic values and the way in which we bring up our children and youth. Physical punishment, violent films and TV programs teach our children that physical violence is normal. (Id., 10)

Prescott thus fully confirmed Reich’s earlier research and corroborated his socio-economic and sex-economic findings. More specifically, Dr. Prescott found a noteworthy relationship between pleasure and violence. Referring to laboratory experiments with animals, he could detect a sort of reciprocal relationship between pleasure and violence, i.e. that the presence of pleasure inhibits violence — and vice versa. Prescott states:

A raging, violent animal will abruptly calm down when electrodes stimulate the pleasure centers of its brain. Likewise, stimulating the violence centers in the brain can terminate the animal’s sensual pleasure and peaceful behavior. When the brain’s pleasure circuits are ‘on’ the violence circuits are ‘off’, and vice versa. Among human beings, a pleasure-prone personality rarely displays violence or aggressive behaviors, and a violent personality has little ability to tolerate, experience, or enjoy sensuously pleasing activities. As either violence or pleasure goes up, the other goes down. (Id.)

Furthermore, Prescott discovered a direct relationship between the child rearing methods of a given culture, and the level of violence that reigns in that culture. In detail, he found that societies that tend to rear children in a rather Spartan way, hostile to pleasure and with little or no tactile affection cherish in their value system various forms of violence, they do warfare, torture their enemies, practice slavery and progeny and concede to women and children a rather low social status; these societies also exhibit a high crime rate. (Id., 12)

Another violence-indicating parameter in a society, Prescott found, is physical violence toward children in form of corporal punishment. (Id.)

Furthermore, repression or tolerance of children’s sexual life plays a decisive role in the assessment if a society has a high or low violence potential:

Thus, we seem to have a firmly based principle: Physically affectionate human societies are highly unlikely to be physically violent. Accordingly, when physical affection and pleasure during adolescence as well as infancy are related to measures of violence, we find direct evidence of a significant relationship between the punishment of premarital sex behaviors and various measures of crime and violence. (Id., 13)

As a result of his research, Prescott advocates the total abolishment of corporal punishment of children, a rise of the social status of women, extended breastfeeding (2.5 years and longer), baby carrying, abundant tactile contact between parents and children, the reinstitution of the extended family, the reintegration of the elder and a more active participation of men with child-rearing and the granting of physical affection to children in their role as fathers or educators.

— See James W. Prescott, Deprivation of Physical Affection as a Primary Process in the Development of Physical Violence (1979), pp. 77, 78.

Pleasure and Childhood

I began in the 1980s to research child sexuality, at the time when I started research parent-child codependence and emotional abuse of children, with the ultimate goal to find ways out of the dilemma in the form of new educational and social policies.

This research showed me that our society is strangely fixated upon, and almost obsessed about, child abuse, instead of looking what was first, the hen or the egg? In truth, what was first is love, and natural sensuality that at times, and under certain conditions does become sexual. That sounds like a commonplace but is not. We have the same problem with modern medicine that is fixated upon the pathological but that never has defined what health is actually about, what exactly health looks like — obviously so, health is more than the absence of illness. So it is with child sexuality.

When parents contend that their child be never sexual and thus that there was a total absence of child sexual behavior, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we are dealing with a healthy family setup; it rather indicates that these parents’ perception of their child is veiled, obstructed, biased, because of their own uneasiness with being sexual in the first place.

Hence, the fact that children are sexual is more than just the absence of their not being sexual; by the same token, and contrary to what Sigmund Freud and the majority of child psychologists assert, child sexuality is more than auto-eroticism, more than masturbation, and more than talking freely about sex. It is the faculty to love, and to lovingly embrace mates other than the parents, for the parents are not ideal love mates for the child.

To assume children have to choose their own parents as their first love mates programs for individual and social neurosis, and here Freud has done us a disservice with his construct of the Oedipus Complex.

Children grow into healthy sexual beings not because of mating with their parents, even if such mating is supposed to be only on the fantasy level, but because they lovingly embrace people they fall in love with, people from outside of the family, peers or adults other than their parents.

This is simply so, if our puritanical and hypocrite society allows or affirms it or not, for, to be true, here is the stumble stone called pedophilia, again and again advanced as the torture agenda and invasion of chaotic liberalism. No, if a child chooses love with an adult, this is not a case for pedophilia, but a love choice, and society has to respect it, for otherwise we are not talking about liberal education, human rights and democracy, but upon censorship, and tyranny.

How erotic is a child supposed to be, or not supposed to be, when it goes to actual love-making? If we take mechanical sex education serious, we can forget about love. If the nation learnt by such kind of sex education, we know why the nation is perverse sexually. Ever thought no sex education is needed in a society that really respects children?

As Anna Freud’s research in British war shelters and nurseries during World War II, showed, children are not easily put in a condition of fear, constant anxiety or even trauma.

—Anna Freud, War and Children (1943).

For this to happen, something must have shattered their emotions, or their emotional relationships with a person they love. It is significant to see that children are not per se fearful or afraid of anything; they are not scared of the facts of life, even if there is danger. They are not that easily traumatized, except they have been educated to be anxious, which is typically the case when they are raised by neurotic parents.

We can thus conclude that children are not afraid of sexuality or sexual encounters of any kind, of course, provided they are not outright violated or abducted or otherwise treated with disrespect; but they would not be afraid of having pleasurable sex with a person they love, peer or adult. Now, when you see that this is the natural position, you will also understand that when you see a child being highly anxious about sex or nudity, something has happened that was not okay, or the child is raised by parents who are not comfortable with their own sexuality, who are full of shame and guilt, and unhappy in their couple relation.

Many parents may find it funny or scurrilous when their small child shows signs of sexual arousal or curiosity. They may be naturally permissive in the face of it all, as it’s more or less something that is confined to the home and where little will be known outside. But these same parents may react with bewilderment to the budding sexuality of their adolescent boy or girl, fearing that the adolescent may stay out to pass a night in the house of of friend or that he or she may talk about their desire with peers or children of the neighborhood who then find out that the parents practice a sort of permissive education; what they fear is to be marginalized by their neighbors or friends who may have lesser permissive attitudes in this respect.

The basic problem is that many parents are uncomfortable within the couple, regarding their own long-term experience of intimacy. What is the problem with being more permissive than a neighbor? We are all different. In one single small neighborhood, you may find a miniature model of all possible behavior modes in society as a whole.

As this is so, parents who are healthy and comfortable in the couple will not resent that others may find fault with their particular child rearing paradigm, and they will know how to defend their position. When they worry about what others say, they have not really found their own position and probably would fare better to be lesser permissive, but comfortable with their decisions.

When parents are afraid of their adolescent children sleeping in the house of a friend, this can have various reasons. They may first want to check out these people, which is normal and responsible behavior, but if they find them okay and still won’t allow their adolescent to sleep there once in a while, then they are probably codependent with their adolescent child.

I am not talking about a fancy here; codependence is something very real. The symptoms are not easy to be dealt with; for example a clear symptom is that the parents once allow the child to sleep with their friend, but do not close an eye for the whole night. The next morning then, when their child returns, they make long faces and hold a discourse about how much they suffered from the child’s absence, that they couldn’t sleep the whole night, and that all this proves ‘how much they love the child,’ and that they would just suffer too much if the child wants this to happen again — and that, conclusio ad infinitum, they are against repeating the experience. No wonder then to see that adolescent shocked and traumatized for becoming emotionally entangled with the unresolved issues of their parents. And the benefits of that night sleeping outside, potentially conducive to the adolescent’s building a greater sphere of autonomy, are annihilated!

This is how it should not happen, and unfortunately the majority opinion in our society tends to give right to such perverse parental behavior which leads to pathological emotional entanglement—and which in my view is emotional child abuse—instead of giving right to children in their important quest to build autonomy and to grow out from childhood.

In fact, why child sexuality, and all sexuality, is so important is that it helps building personal identity and acts counter to emotional entanglement that is unhealthy because it tends to inhibit the natural growth of children into responsible and self-reliant adults.

I contend that without learning the loving embrace, a child or adolescent cannot become a self-reliant adult later on, a person with high self-love and a stable sense of identity.

Our society has as yet a long way to go to affirm this truth, and to give children and adolescents the freedom they need to become persons in their own right, and not pleasing night pillows and tear-catchers for their parents and caretakers.

Wilhelm Reich and Françoise Dolto coincided in their views that sex education ’always comes too late.’ They meant that sex education is always more or less an intellectual circus that doesn’t reach the child’s unconscious and therefore rests at the surface of the personality. If parents have failed to be permissive enough to allow their children to be sexual, all sex education can’t alter this fact, and thus will make it only worse.

This was demonstrated some years ago by a large research conducted in nurseries and schools in the San Diego Bay Area; the research results led to serious doubts as to the effectiveness of school-based sex education. In fact, what was found was that most children suffered from harmless to severe misconceptions about sexuality and procreation in ways that sounded almost absurd. They showed clear signs of confusion, and it became evident that they were not able to integrate the factual knowledge they had been taught with their own emotional and imaginal world. This means they have been traumatized by such education, which can surely not be the goal of it.

In my personal view, institutionalized sex education is a guilt reaction that society shows in the face of its own hypocrite and violent denial of children’s emotional and sexual needs, so that parents can go on with their denial attitudes and their horrid persecution of children’s intimacy with the argument:

—Oh, I can relax about all this, I don’t need to know anything about it. School will take care of all this, anyway …

School won’t, and such an attitude is simply irresponsible. What children need is not to copulate emotionally with their parents, but to copulate sexually with people they choose as their lovers or mates and who are not part of the family or clan.

The official rhetoric is that children live their childhood with a promise, the promise of later integration, of later life, of later pleasures, of later responsibilities, of later freedom.

In the meantime they have to play and, first of all, shut up and restrain from criticizing the protection system that cares for their best and that holds them back forcefully from any experience of real life — because that could make them rebellious and thus subversive. It could namely wake them up from the mass hypnosis they are subjected to by their oppressors. Stevi Jackson, in Childhood and Sexuality (1982), notes:

So sharply are the distinctions between adult and child drawn that the two seem almost to belong to different species: adults are independent, children dependent, adults productive, children non­productive, adults work, children play, adults are involved in the serious business of life, childhood is supposed to be fun. It is not simply that children are treated as people who have yet to learn the skills and conventions of adult life, but that they are regarded as beings of a different order with needs quite apart from those of the rest of the community. (Id., 24)