This book is a Get Out of Jail Free card and a passport back into the playground.

The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.

The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.

But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :

1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.

2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.

Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.

This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.

How to Be Free is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, iBooks in some countries, Kobo and Barnes & Noble

It is also available in paperback from Lulu or Amazon for $10 US, plus postage.

The ebook version currently has received 593 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Fantasies and Sexual Healing

Our erotic desires are a pull towards healing. While bodily pleasures are appealing in their own right, our specific emotional needs determine the focus of our sexuality. Intercourse with the opposite sex may be the most natural way to procreate, but most of our sexual behaviour is not about breeding. A desire for a healing of the psychological tear between the masculine and the feminine underlies heterosexual behaviour. Exclusively homosexual behaviour in males might be driven by a desire for a healing between the individual and the patriarchal society. Lesbians seek healing away from the more troubled masculine psyche and in bisexuality we may see a less neurotic, less fixated, form of sexuality in which the sharing of sexual pleasure is not restricted by the gender of the participants.

Often we also have sexual fixations around particular situations or kinds of activity. The erotic is like an ambulance crew which goes straight to the spot where we are most wounded.

I'll first use myself as an example. During my early adolescence I developed a strong sense of shame about masturbating. This can't be attributed to any messages I picked up from my parents, but may have been a response to the way that other boys joked about the act as if anyone who did it was pathetic. The point is that I went for about six months without masturbating and felt that a black cloud of shame was hanging over my head. Eventually I talked about this with my parents and they reassured me that masturbation was perfectly natural and that I had done it when I was a baby. So I went back to masturbating, but in later years I still felt uncomfortable about how women would view me if they knew how much I did it.

Later, as I began to explore my sexual fantasies and eventually began to write erotica, I found that one of the things which gave me intense pleasure was the idea of a woman watching me masturbate. Here we have an example of the erotic as a process of healing. What was most erotic was a sexual transaction which reassured my deep-seated fear of rejection.

I recently read an account by a woman, who had been raped and who writes erotica, of how writing a rape-based story helped her to take back ownership of her own sexuality. And another woman who suffered a similar trauma has told me of how rape-play with a sexual partner is extremely erotic for her as long as she feels safe.

This fits with the idea that erotic desires and erotic fantasy represent a process of healing of our deepest wounds.

But does our society facilitate or hinder such healing?

Trauma lies not so much in the things which happen to us as in the way we think about those things. Many individuals go through very scary or painful experiences and then more or less forget about them as soon as they are over. Giving birth tends to be very painful and I'm sure it can be a frightening experience when it occurs, but once the mother has a healthy baby in her arms it seems to be quickly forgotten. What makes for trauma is on-going questions like : “Was it my fault?", “What will people think?", etc.

What is needed to heal trauma is self-acceptance – the realisation that what happened can't be changed, that whatever one feels is always all right and a trust that the mind knows the way towards healing. Erotic fantasy need not be a part of that, but for some of us it is, and this needs acceptance.

Prevalent social beliefs can work against this process. In the case of rape or child molestation an emphasis on the need to condemn the act and the perpetrator can lead to a feeling that the survivor of the abuse should remain in the role of victim. The act of finding healing and renewed confidence through fantasies which eroticise the experience may be viewed as a retroactive condoning of it. But really this has nothing to do with the fact that the abuse was wrong and can be criminally prosecuted.

When it comes to trauma resulting from sexual abuse part of the suffering is bound to come from the sense of shame which accrues even to the victim in a society which still carries a deep-seated fear of sexuality. We often think differently about someone who has been raped than we do someone who has been stabbed, and yet both are violent acts in which the body is invaded.

It might seem strange to say that our society has a deep-seated fear of sexuality when we look at what shows on television and the easy access to porn on the internet. But sex is not treated simply as the pleasurable physical act which it is. In polite society you can say you just drank a really nice cup of tea, but try saying you had a very satisfying masturbation session last night. Why should the two be any different? Only because we live in a society founded on the repression of sexuality and which, thus, rightly fears the power of sexuality to disrupt it. In and of itself an act of sexual intercourse is like dancing, a pleasurable physical activity involving intimacy between two or more individuals. But you can dance in public and you can't have sex in public. And in the media, nudity and even loving sexual behaviour are treated as if they were more offensive to our deeper selves than violence is. They aren't. Loving sexual interactions, heterosexual or homosexual, are perfectly in harmony with our deepest nature which is to be unconditionally loving. Violence runs against that nature, but its depiction in the media plays an important cathartic role in our neurotic society. The reason why nudity and sex, when not aggressive or abusive, are treated as something dangerous is because these things are dangerous to our neurotic selves. They are not dangerous to non-neurotic adults or to children who have not yet become neurotic. But it is those who are particularly neurotic who impose the fear-driven rules of society.

It is important to be understanding about this fear of sex. Someone who is homophobic has no more choice about the fact than a arachnophobe has about being scared of spiders. In both cases they can learn to be free of fear, but it requires sensitivity on the part of those who are trying to help them.

And, of course, sex can have a dark face when combined with neurotic armouring. There is nothing wrong with enjoying fantasies about raping people, but to do the thing itself is evil. And some adults use their position of authority over children to satisfy themselves sexually. This is only the most socially-unacceptable form of abuse of adult authority over children. Being indoctrinated into a religion, being forced to perform in child beauty pageants, being told they are expected to go into the family business - any of these things, and many more, can have as big a detrimental effect on a child's life as an adult as sexual abuse. In general, to teach a child to obey authority because it is authority (“You'll do it because I say so.") is to lay down the conditioning which can make the child a future victim of other authority figures, be they dictatorial politicians or sexual predators. Once again, it is our society's fear of sex which leads us to concentrate our outrage on the sexual abuse of children and ignore or even condone other forms of abuse.

If our sexual fantasies are leading us toward healing, then what is the meaning of the current popularity of fantasies revolving around bondage, discipline and sado-masochism? These fetishes are nothing new, but the bestselling novel Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James (which I haven't read) is taking the world by storm, indicating that these kinds of fantasies are now a part of the mainstream.

One way of looking at the erotic appeal of bondage and discipline is that, if someone is fearful of their own erotic desires, the sense of safety that comes with being in bondage or submitting to another's discipline, allows them to explore those desires without danger of a scary loss of control.

But maybe there is another interpretation which can be put on this kind of fantasy. If the erotic offers a path out of shame or trauma, through returning to the source of shame or trauma and eroticising it, then perhaps we eroticise bondage and slavery as a path to freedom from the bondage and slavery of our neurosis.

You can also find this post on the How to Be Free forum here. You may find further discussion of it there.