Monday, February 12, 2018


Let’s shed some light on the dark side of sex, the side that is beyond “fifty shades of gray” and truly devastating.  Sex as obsession, pain, and addiction.

Some Google links:

“Our brain is a feedback loop system. In fact, it isn’t just the brain that is a feedback loop system. Every system and cell in our body is a feedback loop system. For the purpose of understanding life on a grand level, let’s talk about understanding the implications of this feedback loop system.

“The human brain is a negative feedback loop systems. This means that whenever there is a difference between what a person experiences in reality that is different from the ideal set point established by this person’s brain, an urge to behave to correct the situation is created by the brain.” 

“The leaders of Internet companies face an interesting, if also morally questionable, imperative: either they hijack neuroscience to gain market share and make large profits, or they let competitors do that and run away with the market.” . . 

“In the Industrial Age, Thomas Edison famously said, "I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent." In the Internet Age, more and more companies live by the mantra "create an obsession, then exploit it." Gaming companies talk openly about creating a "compulsion loop," which works roughly as follows: the player plays the game; the player achieves the goal; the player is awarded new content; which causes the player to want to continue playing with the new content and re-enter the loop.”

“. . .achieving a goal or anticipating the reward of new content for completing a task can excite the neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain, which releases the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain's pleasure centers. This in turn causes the experience to be perceived as pleasurable. As a result, some people can become obsessed with these pleasure-seeking experiences. . . The release of dopamine forms the basis for nicotine, cocaine, and gambling addictions.”  This link is to a sensible overview of sex addiction, which has my attention as the dark side of the impending Valentine’s Day.

In 1957, Vance Packard published The Hidden Persuaders, in which he identified eight hidden needs used by advertisers :—
Emotional security
Reassurance of worth
Ego Gratification
Creative outlets
Love objects
Sense of Power

I would add the thrill of transgression and defiance of authorities.  This adds adrenaline, one of the most addictive of drugs, and introduces risk of loss and even death.  Now we’re talking heroin and fentanyl.  

I would add whatever feedback loops are related to domination of others, pain arousal, and feeling grandiosely above any kind of rebuke or outside control.  “If you’re famous enough, you can do anything.”  In other words, looked at from a certain point of view, #MeToo is about sex addiction.  That point of view is S/M based and very much conditioned by the larger society, particularly media where sex is excitingly portrayed as violent.  I include documentary war violence.

But these are not always arousing.  Arousal may or may not be involved.  It is not likely in the case of dry penetration, the use of instruments, the formal measure of torture — organ damage.  What kind of society sets this as the limit or even needs to set a formal institutional limit?  

Such excessive treatment may not evoke arousal but instead trigger dissociation, which may be a fugue state or the creation of a new identity that shifts to an alternative reality.  It can feel mystical, which may be why torture and other suffering is connected to saints.  I once knew a humane society lady who explained to me that she loved her cruel boyfriend because he made her feel like a beautiful and graceful antelope in the grip of a powerful feline predator — she offered her throat in that arching stereotypical cinema depiction of a woman having an orgasm.  I don’t know why she told me about it, since it suggested distancing — maybe justification in face of deeper unease.

But the alternative to the agony (was Jesus aroused by crucifixion?)  is the nurturing and protective mother, a competing context, the creche.  This kind of sex that arouses with safety, embrace, praise, stroking, kissing, teasing of sensitive parts, takes far more skill and imagination.  

I keep saying that there are always two polarities to society:  what is good for the whole community and what is good for the individual.  “Good” being not a moral measure but defined by promoting survival.  Survival may be escaping violent death or may be a matter of birth.  

Preventing birth is a kind of death, as the more conservative and conventionally religious people declare.  From that point of view celibacy is a kind of blow against survival of the group.  (Think of all the babies I’ve never had!)  Unless the person with no children contributes in some other way to the success of the group.  Or unless the survival of the individual depends upon not having children.

But much depends on the kind of society involved.  In our most death-inflicting societies today, the citizens are framing life as competing nations — a matter of identity based on something as irrelevant as skin color.  And all the time they try to kill and exclude competitors, they are magnetizing them sexually by justifying violence, adding adrenaline and testosterone to relationships.  This is a force for merging and fertile sex, though the kind of babies and the character they will develop in the attempt to survive may not be very idealistic.  Nobody said sex was rational.

And all the time that the non-theatrical Romeos and Juliets resist suicide, they are beginning the creation of a new category of people who are cross-bred, mulatto, half-caste, etc.  Given the vigour of hybrids, these children are likely to be “better” than their parents.  Better at surviving — and there we have the key to evolution, supported by sex however shocking, so long as it is fertile.  

But that’s not taking into account the fertility of culture, which can be a feedback loop well supported by Romeo/Romeo or Juliet/Juliet pairs, so long as they help the survival of the community.  The community that excludes them is damaging itself.

It is also the result of a society that has denigrated the body as “animal” and hasn’t really known how the body and brain work to let the species survive in a changing and dangerous world.  Now we begin this work to save us all.

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