A FATHER’S DAY FANTASY

hefner and twinsFantasy’s a powerful thing.  It fuels the head trip of desire and compels the illusion of feeling good, even when there are no hands on.   Multi-billion dollar industries – from publishing to prostitution to porn – start here first.   

But how does the brain distinguish between what’s real and what’s imagined?   Scientists’ hypotheses point to the involvement of different areas of the brain and the multi-directional processing among them.  

Sexual fantasies are a solo adventure usually leading to release through orgasm.  For some the mind’s eye is enough to induce a significant physical event like orgasm.  Actual visual stimulation is so powerful that doctors’ offices getting sperm samples provide men with sexually explicit magazines as a way for patients to get it up and over with.   Humans are not alone:  Species that are down the evolutionary ladder from us also purposely seek out ways to feel good “down there”.  Elephants rub, monkeys twiddle away the hours masturbating, and male dogs lust after people’s legs.

Sometimes fantasy goes wild and boundaries are blurred, creating a new “reality”.  One example is the substitution of social bonds created by in-person interaction with texting, sexting, and hook-up sites.  We’ve always looked for love in the wrong places but it’s easier now; you don’t have to take a shower to “chat”.  Carried to extreme, fantasy never becomes reality:  the lure of being anyone you choose, often without consequence, is a strong inducement to stay impersonal.

It’s long been known that our brains are hardwired for pleasure, with specific neural pathways acting as highways.  As with anything pleasurable, the possibility of overindulgence, abuse, is possible.  While most brains have stopping, or surfeit, mechanisms, other brains are glitched to go wild.  Especially worrisome is the effect on young brains of unrelenting and ever-more-present societal messages about sex.  Young brains are not yet equipped with that Jiminy-Cricket-battle between the super-ego and the id; with this age group (and for some adults), the id wins almost every time.  Understandably there is concern for young people among parents, educators, and the mental health community.

The mental health and medical communities are concerned about the rise within the broader population of sexually identified mental health diagnoses as well as the rise in sexually transmitted disease.  It’s no longer unusual to know someone with herpes; it’s even been authoritatively predicted that in ten years over half of women and 40% of men will have contracted genital herpes.

Fantasy enables our addiction to the belief that if we can imagine it, we can make it real.  It sounds snappy when Sony says it, but those are dangerous words.  Not only because that’s not always true, but because it shouldn’t always be true..  Powerful as it is, sexual fantasy is just that.  Many of us are still hanging with Freud rather than updating our belief that it’s abnormal not to fantasize when bringing about orgasm. 

In praise of sexual fantasy: 

  • Leads to sexual activity, conjoint or solo, and that’s a good thing;

  • By inducing orgasm the body rids itself of stale sperm, an evolutionary advantage;

  • Orgasm reduces blood pressure, aids sleep, counts as exercise, lowers heart attack risk, lessens pain;

  • Can infuse a dulled relationship with newness;

  • Takes us on a journey we probably otherwise wouldn’t be capable of;

  • Stimulates creative thinking;

  • Enables us to practice social skills;

  • Offers an escape from criticism that may induce self-consciousness or an inability to function sexually;

  • Makes us feel good about ourselves, powerful, potent, and desirable;

  • Enhances relationship;

  • Mostly, sexual fantasy Is fun.

Sex is the adult version of play and fantasy is our way of looking forward to playing.  As thinking beings we need fantasy, daydreaming, and imagination as a pathway to our best self.  Fantasy is a pleasure in itself. 

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist whose private practice focuses on couples, especially those whose relationship is impacted by visible or invisible disability or illness for whom sexuality is often a significant issue.  It’s probable that childhood exposure to an overly enthusiastic dog is the reason she’s a cat person.  Then again, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  With their two hooligan cats, Petey and Lucy, she and her husband David live in Colorado Springs where she maintains a private practice and where she and David co-instruct Couple Communication Workshops.  

Copyright 2015, Being Heard, LLC

ON BEING A DAD

Created for the XLIX Super Bowl, Toyota has tapped the touchy-feely market by pairing pro football players with their children in a series of commercials about being a father.

There’s no question that how a child is parented makes an enormous difference in how a child develops.

Numerous studies have shown the relationship between early childhood trauma, abuse, and in utero treatment of the unborn fetus and the mental and physical health of adults.

Debated still are the effects of divorce on children or being raised by a single parent.  In my view, the emotional health of the parent(s) casts more influence on the growing child than the constitution of the family.

Without doubt, the wider community and culture — religion, education, support network, social environment, access to goods and services, the techno environment, and the omnipresence of media — along with the hard wiring each child brings to life and how the developing fetus is treated in utero are all crucial.  No argument is being made that all children can turn out wonderfully; there is too little control over the multitude and combination of factors that incite dysfunction.

But more children can turn out well-adjusted and happy when dads (and moms) provide positive parenting.

It’s not foregone that those of us who experienced a less-than-healthy family environment will be less-than-healthy ourselves; look at the truth to the saying, “I am like this because my parents stayed together, so you just never know.” Worrisome, though, is the unawareness or reluctance many people bring to recognizing and creating a family environment they themselves didn’t have. Parents don’t have to be robotic models of their own parents, though too many are.  And there’s no proof that socioeconomic status predicts a positive parenting or family outcome.  Nasty custody battles seem to follow the money.

Summarized by a client who honestly and angrily believed that marriage meant there weren’t supposed to be any problems, parenting is much the same.  Love does mean having to say you’ve sorry; a recognition you’ve erred,  determination to do better, and changed behavior equivalent to proving “sorry”.

Despite all the self-help books, hugs, and positive modeling, parenting will never be a walk in the park.  But hugs, encouragement, and consistent positive attention can ensure that moms and dads don’t have to walk in the dark.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice where she specializes in couples work, especially with relationships affected by disability.  She and husband David attempt to parent their two children, hooligan kitties Petey and Lucy.  Kathe and David present Couples Communication Workshops in Colorado Springs.  Read about it and register at www.BeingHeardNow.com.  

copyright, 2015 Being Heard, LLC

ON BEING A DAD

Created for the XLIX Super Bowl, Toyota has tapped the touchy-feely market by pairing pro football players with their children in a series of commercials about being a father.

There’s no question that how a child is parented makes an enormous difference in how a child develops.

Numerous studies have shown the relationship between early childhood trauma, abuse, and in utero treatment of the unborn fetus and the mental and physical health of adults.

Debated still are the effects of divorce on children or being raised by a single parent.  In my view, the emotional health of the parent(s) casts more influence on the growing child than the constitution of the family.

Without doubt, the wider community and culture — religion, education, support network, social environment, access to goods and services, the techno environment, and the omnipresence of media — along with the hard wiring each child brings to life and how the developing fetus is treated in utero are all crucial.  No argument is being made that all children can turn out wonderfully; there is too little control over the multitude and combination of factors that incite dysfunction.

But more children can turn out well-adjusted and happy when dads (and moms) provide positive parenting.

It’s not foregone that those of us who experienced a less-than-healthy family environment will be less-than-healthy ourselves; look at the truth to the saying, “I am like this because my parents stayed together, so you just never know.” Worrisome, though, is the unawareness or reluctance many people bring to recognizing and creating a family environment they themselves didn’t have. Parents don’t have to be robotic models of their own parents, though too many are.  And there’s no proof that socioeconomic status predicts a positive parenting or family outcome.  Nasty custody battles seem to follow the money.

Summarized by a client who honestly and angrily believed that marriage meant there weren’t supposed to be any problems, parenting is much the same.  Love does mean having to say you’ve sorry; a recognition you’ve erred,  determination to do better, and changed behavior equivalent to proving “sorry”.

Despite all the self-help books, hugs, and positive modeling, parenting will never be a walk in the park.  But hugs, encouragement, and consistent positive attention can ensure that moms and dads don’t have to walk in the dark.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice where she specializes in couples work, especially with relationships affected by disability.  She and husband David attempt to parent their two children, hooligan kitties Petey and Lucy.  Kathe and David present Couples Communication Workshops in Colorado Springs.  Read about it and register at www.BeingHeardNow.com.  

copyright, 2015 Being Heard, LLC