The complexity of sexual pleasure (and extended orgasm)

Abraham Maslow wrote (in The Farther Reaches of Human Nature), “If we want to answer the question how tall can the human species grow, then obviously it is well to pick out the ones who are already tallest and study them.

If we want to know how fast a human being can run, then it is no use to average out the speed of a ‘good sample’ of the population; it is far better to collect Olympic gold medal winners and see how well they can do. If we want to know the possibilities for spiritual growth, value growth, or moral development in human beings, then I maintain that we can learn most by studying our most moral, ethical, or saintly people.”

Maslow called these people “self-actualizers”, said they were part of society’s “growing tip”, and defined them as individuals who were making the fullest use of their talents, capacities, and potentialities.

Maslow believed everyone could attain self-actualization if he or she wished; that this wasn’t a utopian dream, but possible under present circumstances.

Maslow believed that people had two kinds of needs – deficiency needs and growth needs. The first of these were the basic needs, needs which, when unfilled, lead to illness and often death. These were the needs for air, water, food, shelter, sleep, sex, safety, and security – not to mention good health.

The other kinds of needs were quite different. Maslow said these were what made man godlike. It was natural for man, he said, to need – and seek – loving and belongingness, self-esteem (and esteem by others), meaningfulness, self-sufficiency, effortlessness, playfulness, richness, simplicity, order, justice, completion, necessity, perfection, individuality, aliveness, beauty, goodness, and, at the very peak of his pyramid, truth. Check out another take on this here:

When I first saw this “hierarchy of needs” I was knocked out. It literally staggers the mind when you stop and think about it.

How many of us still define our psychological self in Freudian terms? How many of us are still living in the same neurotic land inhabited by so many of our parents and teachers and clergymen and political leaders?

How many of us not only set the very perimeters of our past and present by this same self-defeating yardstick, but also those of our future as well?

Isn’t it time we all, finally, truly started believing in the post-Freudian revolution that changed all behavioral theory years ago? And isn’t this most true in the world of extended orgasm?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying Freud is without value, or that he has been replaced. The force of his theories is matched only by his brilliance, and his impact will ever be felt.

Yet, there is more to the study of human behavior-and its modification-than the study of Freud and his disciples permits. As so many others have pointed out, Freud considered only the “sick” side of psychology – the pathology — and however important that was, by ignoring the “healthy” side of human behavior, there are strong grounds for believing that Freud gave us only half the picture.

The concept that sex can be a force for good, for joy, for growth, as well as force for the negative.

Freud developed his theories in Austria just before the turn of the century and up until, say, 19zo or thereabouts. Another well-respected and highly influential man of the period was a German physician named Richard von Krafft-Ebing.

He was a professor of medicine at the University of Vienna, and his book, first published in 1886 (1922 in the U.S.), Psychopathia Sexualis, remains the classic study of sexual pathology: six-hundred-plus pages of sexual deviation, sodomy, masochism, sadism, lesbianism, homosexuality, and fetishism with predilection for hair and shoes and silk and underwear and fur.

With Freud’s lustful, driving id battling it out with a highly moralistic superego, and with his obsessions, phobias, hysteria, paranoiac and hallucinatory psychoses, it’s no wonder that the prevailing sexual attitudes between 1900 and 1960 resembled a nest of snakes.

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