Sunday, May 23, 2010

Responses to questions on pages 57 and 58


1. I can get my partner’s attention easily. F Of course this depends on what you mean by attention. If I say hey I heed to talk to you about something, she will sit down with me. Her responses will be few and thin and no matter how important I think this may be, she will not bring it up again unless I force the issue. Do I really have her attention? She gave me the time to state whatever I wanted to but she brought little to the issue.
2. My partner is easy to connect to emotionally. F again this is too simplistic.
3. My partner shows me that I come first with her. T
4. I am not feeling lonely or shut out in this relationship. F
5. I can share my deepest feelings with my partner. She will listen. T to the extent that listening means being physically present while I speak. To the extent that listening entails any sort of emotional connection, not so much.


1. If I need comfort and connection she will be there. F she will physically be there if I ask her to be, but there will be no content to her presence.
2. My partner responds to signals that I need her to be there. F
3. I find that I can lean on my partner when I am anxious or unsure. T
4. Even when we fight or disagree, I know that I am important to my partner and we will come together. F This is a compound question. Part is true and part is not thus the statement is not true.
5. If I need reassurance about how important I am to my partner I can get it. T Again this is a stupid and misleading question. In words I can get it in actions not so much.
1. I feel very comfortable being close to, trusting my partner. F again stupid question. I feel comfortable being close to my partner to the extent that she wants to be close. But not to the extent that I want to be close. The differential is the issue.
2. I can confide in my partner about almost anything. T
3. I feel comfortable, even when we are apart, that we are connected to each other. T another stupid question. Connected in what way? We have children together and a common address. Those are connections.
4. I know that my partner cars about my joys, hurts, and fears. T
5. I feel safe enough to take emotional risks with my partner. T

Funny, no matter what you scored this book is the answer. And if that does not work we have some snake oil that you can apply liberally to your relationship.

More on Hold me Tight

Okay, cynicisms is well stoked. Like we so often see in academia, especially popular writing of academic subjects, there is a sales job going on here. Academics can be so disingenuous. It seems that much of what Johnson is presenting here as new and even revolutionary is nothing more than repackaging. Create a new lexicon, relabel things and claim them as new and uniquely your own. There is some merit in creating a new lexicon. Langue is the paint with which we project our reality. Changing the lexicon is like changing the color with which we paint. Claiming that this is radically new seems to be an arrogant overstatement.

What I find even more offensive are these faux dialogues that she claims to be taken straight from her sessions with clients. I'm sorry but that is just not the case. There is one guy who is totally emotionally inaccessible to his wife but articulates emotional maturity and insight in connecting to his daughter. I have never noticed such marked disconnect in emotional capacity from one relationship to the next. With this same couple she records short statements of total understanding later in her revolutionary approach. This is not just bullshit, it is insulting bullshit. She thinks that her readers cannot see through this. It makes it difficult to continue reading her.

She speaks of the astonishing epiphany that couples are not negotiating, they are seeking primal emotional connection. She does not seem to recognize that one can negotiated for emotional connection. She makes the correlation to the bonds that children seek with their parents. I can only imagine that this woman does not have children and that she has not spent much time with them. Children constantly negotiate for emotional bonds.

She says that couples are engaged in “primal panic response.” What is this? Fight or flight? Whatever similarities there may be, they need to be spelled out and not glossed over. The only thing that I can think is how this dynamic is very different than what I perceive to be a “primal panic response.” This seems of be another example of disingenuous academic bullshit. Primal panic response does not seem to be a well identified or elaborated concept. When Googled the first two hits were a business site and, the third is a pdf by “administrator” which is the exact language from the book and that cites the book. In popular psych. There seems to be a mystical power in manufactured concepts they are imbued with the power of full imagination that is to be taken unquestioningly.

This whole approach also seems to be heavily invested in the idea that all security and wholeness comes through one primary relationship. Talk about a fairytale approach. It is also somewhat of a self fulfilling approach. It encourages people to become completely dependent on one primary relationship, which tends to make them so isolated and frail that that relationship is the sole source of emotional security. Even if one restricts themselves to just one sexual relationship, this does not preclude them from taking significant sustenance from other kinds of relationship than can support the primary relationship and also take pressure off of it.

Again, this approach seems to completely overlook the fact that different people have different needs for emotional connection. This differential is a significant in my relationship. I would say that it is probably the single most problematic issue.

Interestingly she early on begins to avoid the issues contained in this dynamic. She suggested that analysis of childhood issues is of little value. Later she speaks of a couple’s “raw spots” and she even suggests that this woman’s “raw spot” was related to abandonment issues that she had with her father but she glosses and goes right past that little tidbit.

To the point that I have read she has spoken about ARE: Accessibility, Responsiveness and Engagement. Perhaps she will come back to this with better distinction and differentiation but to this point I do not see much difference between responsiveness and engagement.

She sets up the possibility of a nice metaphor but seems incapable of grasping it herself. That metaphor is of the conversation. There are actual and direct conversation that each take on a pattern. This she identifies and talks about. What she misses is that relationships also unfold in a sort of conversation over time with patterns. She seems to be capable of only seeing the patterns in the actual conversation. When you think that she may be about to make the more sophisticated connection to relationship as conversation she only manages to use the made up conversations of her amazing couples sessions. This is a significant failure of insight.

Nonetheless, I shall go on, cynicism in check. Despite the failures of an approach, it can also have merit. My job is to find merit in this approach.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hold Me Tight

In reading Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, I find much of it to be self fulfilling projection and bad science. Inevitably all psychology is bad science. Most psychologists are defensive of such claims, as they try to isolate human variables in dehumanizing ways. It seems that perhaps understanding the reasons that psychology is inherently unscientific might be liberating to its practitioners.

As an example on page 24 she states, “Science from all fields is telling us very clearly that we are not only social animals but animals that need a special kind of close connection with others, and we deny this at our peril.”

Science from all fields? What fields are we distinguishing science from in this regard? Literature? Engineering? Trash collection? What is happening is not so much that science is telling us very clearly as it is that she is using science on which to project her creation of EFCT. What is it telling us? That we are not just social animals but animals that need a very special kind of close connection with others. That is a distinction without a difference.

I don’t mean to be overly critical of Dr. Johnson, really the criticism is much broader than just her. This is the sort of free range projection that seems unavoidable when a holistic subject is approached from a reductionist perspective. And this is not to say that there is not merit mixed with the manure. It seems that the idea of the primacy of secure human bonds is important. But this discussion of those bonds seems vague, what is the nature of these bonds. To this point it seems to be a unifying human need undistinguishable between us and little impacted by personality or environment. If you got it, all is good, and if you don’t, your doomed.

Despite this cynicism I see some personal relevance in this notion. This connection that she speaks of seems to be an over simplified concept of transcendence. While I see the bonds of transcendence as manifold and varied, I do see this as key to meaning and fulfillment.

My life has been significantly impacted by being the product of two indifferent and disengaged parents. Life decisions have been formulated around a fear of rejection even more so than a need for connection. But that is not quite so simple, nor does the need for connection stand alone as single variable. As discussed in the previous post libido is a significant variable. Sexuality is a crucial conduit to connection, especially in primary relationships. J.P. Sartre said that true transcendence is only possible at the point of mutual orgasm when two people are completely open to each other and completely vulnerable. I am not sure that I know what “true” transcendence is but I do think that vulnerability and openness are important ingredients for adult transcendence. In this regard things such as libido are crucial components in bond forming. I do not think, as Johnson seems to be suggesting, that the connections between parents and children are the same as bonds between lovers in a relationship.

I guess that my issue here is that this approach seems over simplified. For one thing she seems to assume that each partner has the same need for connection. This differential seems to be a signifcant variable.

Malleable Libidos

It seems that libido is significantly misunderstood and mainly not understood. Though not well read in the area, it seems that the field of psychology does not deal well with this issue. While there are a few general audience books on the issue of libido differentials in couples, I’m not sure how much real research there is on the full complex of what the libido is. But I suspect that this is an area especially evasive to a reductionist approach.

How does one measure libido? Frequency of orgasm may be one way of attempting this, but that is an indirect correlation at best. It is likely that one person will be driven to seek release when less aroused and another may hold of. Some seem to take an ascetic approach and wait until the pressure is extreme. This, after all, is the Christian approach. You are only supposed to spill your seed for reasons of procreation. I will avoid the obvious diatribe against the infuriating Catholic crimes of abuse and refusal to be responsible.

But really I suspect that there is more to the void in the field of psychology around the issue of libido than just an issue of quantification, though I am not prepared to articulate these ill-formed thoughts. Basically it is this: the reductionist approach of science is objective which is external. Libido is a conduit to what is most internal or subjective. The faith of science refuses, or is incapable of, dealing with the inherently subjective. Though this is way too linear, there is a trinity of dots to be connected from objective to subjective and then transcendent (some may prefer the term spiritual, though I reject that tired old lexicon.)

It appears to me that Libido is significantly a factor in the development of aspects of personality and especially in the dynamics of relationships, even ones that are not sexual. Nonetheless, in the various matrices of personality libido does not appear. Do they even create matrix for relationship? What I have noticed is that they look at the profiles of the individuals but not of the relationship itself, as if the relationship were not greater than the sum of the parts. This, of course, is the limitation of a reductionist approach and why the field of psychology is so flawed. Scientific materialism is all about the parts and little capable of dealing with the relationships between them. Even relationships between objects are a problem (thank you Dr. Heisenberg.)

One thing that I have noticed is that Libido is not static. I am not only speaking of the ebb and flow of desire but also of the ways that desire is impacted. A few things from my own experience. Growing up I was not one of the large percentage of boys who had bisexual desires or experiences. I never thought of, dreamed of, or desired other boys. In high school it was thoughts of the locker room that helped quell inappropriate arousal when in the company of a young woman. Then at the age of 18 in a conversation that was philosophical in nature a friend in a large group of young men suggested that at least statistically one of us and maybe more were gay or at least bisexual and that we would be unlikely to have discovered this because of social scripting.

For the first time I began thinking about this question. It did not take long to ascertain that I was neither of these things. But in thinking about it, I decided that it would be best to be bisexual and I wondered about the flexibility of desire. I had fairly well convinced myself that my desire was not flexible enough to allow men in when I had an experience, which I think that I have written about in this blog, in which I was able to suck another man’s dick. Granted, this was a five second experience that had a lot less to do with my desire to suck a cock than it did with a sense of accomplishment at having overcome a hurtle. In terms of the issue at hand, this was made possible because of elevated arousal provided by extreme circumstance created by the man’s wife.

My point is that libido becomes much more malleable when highly aroused.

The woman of this same couple also provided insight for me in this area. I have known these folks for as long as I have known my wife. From the first meeting I really liked this woman. As our friendship developed she soon became one of my favorite people. Nonetheless, I never felt the slightest tinge of sexual desire for her. She just was not my type. For a short while in college I shared a room with her and my wife. In the morning when she would get up before us and walk around in her underwear or less, I would roll over so that I did not see her. I’m sure that she thought I was being a gentleman but I just did not want to see her.

Over time those feelings began to change. One ingredient was my overall appreciation for who she was. Another was her open sense of sexuality. She was high libido and felt comfortable, at least with close friends, talking about desire and sexuality. In the early years she was able to make me very aroused without creating a desire for her, such as the time that I momentarily sucked her husband’s dick. There were other times when she acted openly sexual and created nice sexual energy. This probably worked because her sexuality was never directed at a desire for me. It was more an act of exhibitionism for herself.

Then some years later after they had moved to another state we went to visit them. My wife had, in a bargain before we went, agreed to have sex with the husband. Something she would not have agreed to if it was not something that she desired (but that is a different posting.) Anyway it became unavoidable that I would also have sex with the wife who I had no sexual attraction for. While in a sense this was taking one for the team, I do not view it that way. While I never looked back on this experience with her when I fantasize, it was a very sweet and tender experience. That was only the case because I had such deep fondness for her and was able, in making love to her, to draw on those feelings and to express a genuine sense of love, even if it did not include lust.

Perhaps this is not so much an experience in which libido was malleable, as it was an experience of expanding my sense of the sophistication of the regions that we usually travel to through libido.

Over the last several years the makeup of my libido has changed a good deal. Perhaps this is an inevitable aspect of aging, but I think that it is also a product of the ways in which I was allowed to expand my libido earlier in life.
In my early forties I had a relationship with another couple. In this relationship the man and I would spend hours pleasing his wife. At first there was no contact between the men, in time there was incidental contact and then he would at times fondle me, usually in the process of pushing me against his wife. And in time I did the same for him. This was nothing like the ah ha experience of my earlier dick sucking episode. I really didn’t give this much thought. While I didn’t mind and maybe even enjoyed this touching, it was not something that felt sexually compelling. Then, one night, the wife asked me to go down on her while she was being fucked by her husband. This was not something that I wanted to do. While I wanted to please her I was very reluctant. Again I think that I have written earlier about this in more detail. In the end I was not only able to do this, I found it tremendously arousing. This is not a discovery I could have made if not extremely aroused.

As my desire to see my wife with other men has developed out of my psychological needs, I, at first, began to enjoy images of strong hard cocks penetrating women as it provoked thoughts of what I would like to see my wife engage in. I was able to interpret this as a sort of bi sexual image because in it the cock took form and was integral. The image or thought was not just of the woman but of the woman and man both. I focused on this aspect and in doing so was able to better develop the image of the cock. Now I am able to be at least somewhat aroused by the image of some erect cocks.

After the experience of going down on my gf who was being fucked by her husband, I have been able to develop the fantasy of sucking a cock. At first this was the image of sucking a cock that had been in my wife by now I can imagine just sucking a cock.

I have always been dubious of the idea that there are some fantasies that are just for the imagination and that one would not want to actualize them. This seems like conceding to sex negative social scripting. The only reason not to indulge your fantasies is because they are nasty or wrong. The exception to this is indulging fantasies that involve unwilling partners. But even that can be worked around. The most common example is women’s rape fantasies. While it is true that women should not put them in uncontrolled situations of rape, this does not mean that they cannot role play the scenario even with strangers if enough protection is provided. But the most common commentary is that these are just fantasies that women do not really want to experience. Sorry but that is bull shit. Nonetheless, I recognize that it is very likely that I would be disappointed and possibly disgusted if I tried to live out these fantasies. These are fantasies that I have in a sense manufactured. Hopefully sometime I will have a chance to find out.

These bisexual fantasies grow out of desires for women not men. There continue to be real limitations to erotic feelings that I can have for men. In fact I do not have erotic feelings for men so much as I do for parts of their body mainly as it relates to women. Kissing a man is not something that I would enjoy. I could not enjoy giving a man a sensual massage nor would I want to receive one from a man. A man’s butt is completely unappealing to me.

So what does this mean in terms of the original thesis that I started with? I am not completely sure but in my life libido seems to have been not just flexible but also somewhat responsive to my own freewill. Arousal has been a key component in allowing me to stretch into new experiences and desires. Like most other people, I have been unable to explore the boundaries of where these tools might take me.

What does this mean in terms of trying to help open the doors of my wife’s sexuality? The big thing is the degree to which heightened arousal can facilitate new experiences and discoveries. She seems unable to acknowledge her own sexual desire even when it seems obvious to an observer. An example is her agreement to have sex with the husband when we traveled to see our old friends. Knowing my wife I can say she would not have agreed to this if the desire had not been there. Nonetheless, she is unable to describe this as anything other than something she did solely for me. When she is in a situation of heightened arousal with another man she is able to do things that she would not otherwise do, even though she later refutes that.

Examples of these experiences include dick sucking, willingly kissing with upturned and accepting face, riding a man while sitting up with proud posture for him to gaze on her; initiation of efforts such as removing clothing and touching in ways that are not usual for her such as hungrily grabbing a dick.

It occurs to me that being in these heightened states of arousal are the hope that we have for opening the door to her sexuality. This though ignores the underlying issues of why she is resistant to almost all intimacy. There is an anxiety response that is not necessarily addressed by creating situations that allow for heightened arousal. One can imagine that this may even exacerbate the anxiety. My observation is that it does not exacerbate the anxiety and it seems to even lessen it somewhat, due to conditioning. But it does not address the issue. Nonetheless, short of another approach, my hope would be that over time, these experiences of heightened arousal might lead her to discoveries that will allow her to better discover the cause of the anxiety on her own. I would like to see us continue rather than curtail situations that arouse her libido and to back those experiences up with counseling aimed at discovery. In the past when we have had these experiences and I have tried to get her to talk about it, she would deny the feelings that were quite obvious. It was obvious that she had feelings that were different than when she is less aroused. There is in these experiences a point at which a switch is thrown and she becomes a willing and desiring participant. My sense is that Libido has valance levels and that is but the first switch. What is not obvious is exactly what she is feeling beyond what I can see in the way she is reacting. When I try to speak to her about these events she denies having had feelings and resents that I assume to know anything about her feelings much less something that she does not know. This is where counseling may help. Someone else that she does not have a relationship with may be better able to help her into exploring her feelings.

The problem is that the counselor seems to want to focus on the bond between just the two of us. Not that this is not a focus that I am also interested on. But it is tied to the myth of monogamy and ignores the power of libido.

I do believe that there is baby in the bathwater of monogamy. The myth is not so much wrong as it is resistant to growth through revision. After thirty years of marriage, you can be certain that I believe in the value of primary relationships. What I do not buy into is that the primary relationship makes people whole.though it should make us more complete. There are relationship needs and desires beyond the primary relationship - sexual and otherwise. To be sure there must be a foundation of trust and caring if a couple is to go safely outside the primary relationship. But it is just silly to assume that a woman who has been married to the same man for thirty years in a relationship that has had sexual issues is not going to experience heightened arousal with a different man. Part of this has to do with habituated sexual responses within the relationship and part of it has to do with the neurochemistry of hormones and enzymes that are released with a new partner. Clearly heightened arousal has significant power to provide insight and growth.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Something New

Lindi and I have started going to a couples councilor. We have had one session though it lasted a couple of hours. She is a couple of hours from where we live so we will have less frequent visits that last longer.

I have long had distain for the field psychology and most especially, clinical psychology. Psychology’s attempt to cram something so totally subject into the box of academic objectivity epitomizes the narrowness of western materialism. Though there are some interesting findings to be found in the one variable approach it is always distorted like an impressionist interpretation viewed in the mirror of a fun house.

At the other end of the spectrum is the sort of hippie dippie eastern mysticism, yoga, one love approach. While I find more merit in this approach, Lindi is totally skeptical here. This woman seems to embrace both approaches.

I went into this meeting skeptical and with a sense of desperation. I am totally bruised from running into the brick wall of Lindi’s emotional and sexual inaccessibility but by the same token I am increasingly committed to our relationship and to making it more functional.

The councilor was sort of old hippie funky. At one point she indicated that she had been involved in a swingers’ lifestyle. I think that this put both Lindi and I at ease. This was not so much a sense that she may have some relevant life experiences – though that was also reassuring – but more so that she was willing to relate on a human level and not sit in the Freudian chair of superior, removed, sterile objectivity.

I was surprised at the degree to which both Lindi and I opened up. We immediately started talking about our intimacy and sex issues relating past experiences with complete openness. We had had a couple of sessions with another councilor many years ago in which those issues never came up. That is probably due to many factors including, style of councilor, our age, being out of town and who knows what else.

At the end of the session she asked if we had a presence on the web that would help her better understand us. I completely forgot about this blog. Several days later when I remembered, I asked Lindi if she minded if I shared it. Her initial reaction was, “sure”, until I reminded her that I had put simi-nude pictures of her on the blog. Then she said “maybe later.” My sense is that she will later be willing to share this.

So I started reading back over the blog. Lindi has far less to be embarrassed about than I do. The who thing of anonymity has allowed me to be surprisingly open and revealing. Embarrassing as that is it is not as embarrassing as the ramble written, unedited nature of this. Writing has always been a means of processing for me. I suspect that I would not like writing if I did it with the thought of someone reading it. Though now I guess that I am writing with that with at least the knowledge that someone may read parts of this.

I have always thought that I have ignored this blog, but reading back there is a lot of shit here. I use that profanity very intentionally. While there was a lot of value in the writing I find no value in the reading. I am reluctant to offer this up because it may create a sense of obligation. I have now sat down to read three times and I have not made it all the way through… and it is my shit. I would hate to inflict this level of tedium on anyone. I especially would not want to pay someone to read it.

I have been surprised how much I have stuck to the issue of intimacy and sexuality. Though that was the intent, I am seldom able to keep politics and other distractions out of any writing that I do.

I am also surprised how much of a pervert that I have been. Not that I think poorly of perversion. Nonetheless, it surprises me to think how often I focused on the purely physical. Though, even when I wrote long tedious short stories they managed to weave a lot of my head trash into the lust of the story. I’m surprised how much I focused on the whole cuckold thing. I do not so much think of myself in that role but I do recognize it as an aspect of my fetish even if of a different flavor than most. I think that I am as taken with the idea of a fetish as I am with the fetish itself. This is a fetish built of a fear of rejection mixed with a life relationship well soaked in rejection. I am totally fascinated with the whole process of psychological environment turned into personality projection. I love the intensity of passion that this creates. I feel sorry for those who do not have the scaring to give them this intensity of feeling. I crave nothing so much as to plug this electricity into another’s equal power source. Most especially I want to find Lindi’s power source. Or perhaps more accurately I want her to find it and to share it with me... and others.

I suspect that I could have been content with a totally monogamous relationship if I had engaged with a woman who had access to her own lust and an ability to share it with me. But now I suspect that even if Lindi found that, I would be content with sexual experiences limited to just she and I. The desire of fetish is just to strong to dissolve into traditional contentment.

Because this desire to share Lindi is so grounded in my experiences and it is so intense, I do not trust my ability to see this from a perspective different than my own. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that she can access a door to her own lust and that that behind that door are other men and me. I know that she is more sexually responsive when engaged with a new lover despite an anxiety response. If she can deal with the anxiety response that has more to do with providing access to her inner self than it does a fear of others. In fact the person she is most fearful of giving access to is herself.

She has a switch that once thrown she easily becomes excited and responsive with another man. But with herself she can only be mechanical. Masturbation and orgasm are a stress relievers created by a machine with no mental connection whatsoever.

I have always also been interested in the BDSM community of the reasons stated above but that has been a far more objective interest. That too is sort of interesting because I view my own fetish as someone what of a similar experience in that it is the product of psychological damage. Also there is a great deal in the range of cockolds that I find no connection to. Most notably this is the whole feminization thing. Not really into the denial of sexual gratification thing either. But these are major components for many who find themselves under this label.

I would enjoy things like spanking and power play with Lindi. There are components of these things in my fetish but I do not see my fetish as that of BDSM. I enjoy pictures and stories of women engaged with men other than their husband, especially if the husband is present. I do not seek out the tied up and spanked BDSM stuff.