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Sex and human's sexual urge.

Sex and human's sexual urge.


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Why is it necessary for humans to feel pleasure while having sex? Why is it that other animals don't need to experience it? Is it evolutionary ? Why do we mate for pleasure when it's so energy wasting/ time consuming?


This is logical question and somehow related to evolution. See mating is pleasurable to most of animals Second thing during course of evolution mating became pleasurable not because humans can take pleasure but to attract them towards mating therby increasing population of a species helping it to survive.


The science of sexual arousal

Men and women experience sexual arousal very differently, not only physiologically but psychologically, according to researchers who are studying arousal using an array of new and refined methods.

Those methods are making it possible for researchers to understand the causes of real-world problems, such as sexual dysfunction and high-risk sexual behavior (see pages 54 and 58). But they are also giving researchers the means to explore basic questions about the nature of sexual arousal and how its different components--such as physiological arousal and subjective experience--are related to each other.

"It's easier to get funding for research that focuses on, let's say, AIDS-related sexual behaviors, than for research on the very fundamental question of what sexual motivation and sexual arousal really are," says Erick Janssen, PhD, a psychologist at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University. "But in the long run, those basic questions have to be answered before we can move on to explain other, related behaviors."

Cognition and arousal

One active area of research concerns cognitive factors that influence sexual arousal. In the mid-1980s, Boston University psychologist David Barlow, PhD, and his colleagues conducted a series of studies to examine the relationship between anxiety and sexual arousal. They found that men with and without sexual problems reacted very differently to anxiety-inducing threats of mild electric shock.

Men who reported having no trouble getting and maintaining erections, says Barlow, "would believe that they were going to get shocked if they didn't get aroused, so they would focus on the erotic scene." The result was that the threat of shock actually increased sexual arousal. But men who had sexual problems responded to the threat of shock very differently, says Barlow. "Their attention would be so focused on the negative outcomes that they wouldn't be able to process the erotic cues," he explains.

Since those initial studies, Barlow and his collaborators have been trying to tease apart the factors that distinguish men with and without sexual problems. One of the key differences, he says, is that men with sexual arousal problems tend to be less aware of how aroused they are.

Another difference has to do with how men react to instances when they can't become aroused, says Barlow. "Males who are able to get aroused fairly easily seem unfazed by occasions where they can't get aroused," he notes. "They tend to attribute it to benign external events--it was something they ate, or they're not getting enough sleep--not as characteristics of themselves." In contrast, men with arousal problems tend to do just the opposite, thinking of every instance of difficulty as a sign of a long-term internal problem, either physiological or psychological, he says.

At the Kinsey Institute, Janssen and John Bancroft, MD, the institute's director, have been developing a theoretical model and a set of measurement tools that define sexual arousal as the product of excitatory and inhibitory tendencies. Last year, they published papers in the Journal of Sex Research (Vol. 39, No. 2) describing the Sexual Inhibition and Sexual Excitation Scale--a new questionnaire that measures individual differences in the tendency to become sexually inhibited and excited.

Early research on the model suggests that while a single factor accounts for all of the variation among men in their tendency to become sexually excited (SES), there are two inhibitory factors--one that represents inhibition due to the threat of performance failure (SIS1) and one that represents inhibition due to the threat of such performance consequences as an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease (SIS2).

One implication is that people with different levels of SES, SIS1 and SIS2 will respond differently to different kinds of stimuli, says Janssen. In one study, for instance, Janssen, Bancroft and their collaborators found that people who scored highly on SIS2 were less likely to be aroused by erotic films that included threatening stimuli than people with low SIS2 scores.

"We believe that people who are high in inhibition-proneness are more vulnerable to developing sexual problems, whereas those who are low are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behavior," says Janssen.

Physiological and subjective arousal

For most of the history of research on sexual arousal, studies involving women have been much rarer than studies involving men. Recently, however, the gap has started to narrow due to the work of psychologists such as Cindy Meston, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin, Julia Heiman, PhD, of the University of Washington, and Ellen Laan, PhD, of the University of Amsterdam. Janssen and his colleagues at the Kinsey Institute have also begun studying female arousal.

One of the most interesting results to come out of that work, researchers say, is that there are significant differences between men and women in the relationship between physiological and subjective arousal.

"What we find in research in males is there's a very high correlation between their erectile response and how aroused they say they are," says Meston. "But in women we get low, if any correlations."

In addition to being interesting from a scientific standpoint, the sex difference could also have important implications for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction, says Meston. Researchers have not yet been able to pinpoint the source of the difference, she says, but some progress has been made.

Several explanations that once seemed likely candidates have been eliminated in recent years. One of them is the idea that women are less likely than men to talk honestly about their sexuality because of sexual taboos. But Meston says she sees no evidence of reticence in the women who volunteer for her studies.

Another possibility is that erotic films might evoke negative emotions in women, which could mask their arousal. But Laan and her collaborators at the University of Amsterdam have found no evidence that such reactions can account for the physiology-experience gap.

Meston and others suspect that the difference probably has something to do with the fact that male genital arousal is simply easier to notice than female genital arousal. Men also seem to be more attentive than women to all kinds of physiological signals, not just sexual ones, says Janssen.

An open question is whether the resulting sex differences in the relationship between physiological and subjective arousal are permanent, or whether they can be changed through training. Meston says her lab is currently conducting a study to find that out.


Why do we have sex at night?

Humans can have sex anytime we damn well please – so why do we mostly do it in the dark? Here's what science has to say about our preference for nighttime hookups.

The When

Lots of studies have looked at the timing and frequency at which humans tend to have sex, over a range of cycling time windows. For the sake of simplicity, we're going to focus on the daily and weekly rhythms observed in two such studies.

The first was conducted by researchers John Palmer, Richard Udry and Naomi Morris, and published in a 1982 issue of Human Biology . Palmer and his colleagues analyzed the sexual activity of 78 young, married couples over a 12 month period, and observed a distinct weekly rhythm to sexual activity, which the authors note is characterized by "a rather constant copulatory rate during weekdays, with a large increase on weekends." The following graph is adapted from their findings:

The researchers observed a daily rhythm as well, which was characterized by a major evening peak – encompassing 58% of sexual encounters – and another, smaller peak in the morning.

Adherence to the human construct of "a week" suggests there's a strong social component that impacts when we do or do not have sex. And yet, the fact that people like to get busy according to a daily rhythm suggests that sexual activity could be dictated, to some extent, by our biology. "As someone who studies circadian rhythms, I know that practically all functions of the human body exhibit [daily] variation," says University of South Carolina biologist Roberto Refinetti in an interview with io9. "It would be reasonable to expect that 'horniness' would exhibit [biological] rhythmicity."

In 2005, Refinetti sought to reproduce the daily rhythm findings of Palmer and his colleagues in a sample of people with a wider age range, while also probing for possible environmental explanations for their sexual rhythms:

His findings – which revealed a peak in sexual activity at bed time and a second, smaller peak around 6:00 a.m. – matched incredibly well with those of Palmer's team. These times coincided with the average sleep and wake time of the subjects, which Refinetti points out are also "well within the range of bedtimes and wake times observed in various societies around the world."

These studies bring us back to our original question – Why night? – while raising another: to what extent are our sexual exploits determined by society and culture, and to what extent biology?

The Why

For many species on Earth, and most mammals, the ability to partake in intercourse is dictated by the periodic release of gonadal hormones . But humans (and primates, in general) are different. There is plenty of evidence that variations in hormone levels can affect humans' interest in sex – but our ability to engage in sexual congress, to actually perform sexually, has been separated more or less entirely from hormonal control. As a result, we can have sex basically anywhere and anytime we want . And do we ever .

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Or rather, we do to a point. Social context and cultural conventions have a way of dictating when we primates get down and dirty. If you're a resus monkey, for example, sex at the wrong time of day can make you vulnerable to predation. If you're a human, having a hump at an elementary school playground on a Tuesday morning makes you vulnerable to arrest, incarceration, and inclusion in the national sex offender registry.

That is to say: there exists a plethora of potent motivating factors that keeps most of us from riding eachother like rabbits while we're, say, riding public transit. And so, generally speaking, we do the dirty in private, away from the prying eyes of fellow humans.

This choice – the choice to bone with abandon, but only where and when we want to – highlights an important aspect of human nature, namely our ability to postpone, plan, and rationalize something as ostensibly passionate and impulsive as having sex.

Take fear of pregnancy, for example. As psychologist Kim Wallen notes in his overview of hormones and sexual motivation in primates , "humans are, as far as we are aware, the only species that actively avoids pregnancy and recognizes pregnancy as a consequence of sexual activity." (Some species, like Gelada monkeys , have been known to abort an unborn fetus to preserve their evolutionary fitness, but there is no evidence that they do so consciously.)

Gelada monkeys offer evidence that abortion is part of evolutionary fitness

The story begins with an insurrection, and ends with infanticide. A male gelada monkey, unsatisfied

In the end, says Wallen, the role of hormones and other circadian factors in the interaction between sexual desire (i.e. when we want to have sex) and sexual intercourse (i.e. when we actually have sex) is probably to increase "motivation" ("horniness," as Refinetti put it). That being said, "this increased motivation may be insufficient to overcome other motivating factors," like avoiding pregnancy, or social ostracism. I follows, then, that having sex at night may be an emergent feature of our social structure. Generally speaking, you're not having sex if you're eating breakfast, driving to and from work, or making dinner. Maybe the reason we have sex at night is because it's convenient.

And, in fact, Refinetti's findings corroborate this hypothesis. In a followup study to his circadian sex investigation, test subjects were administered a short survey with two main questions. What time of day do you usually have sex? and Why do you have sex at these times (as opposed to other times of day)?


About This Article

If you have trouble controlling your sexual urges, try to avoid situations that trigger you, such as steamy love scenes in movies or pornography. To immediately diffuse your sexual urges, step away from your current environment by going for a walk, or try asking a trusted friend or therapist to help keep you accountable. You may also want to consider abstaining from drugs or alcohol, since being under the influence can make risky sexual behavior more likely. In addition, consider trying techniques that could help you control your thoughts, such as meditation, and keep yourself busy by channeling your excess sexual energy into hobbies or creative projects, instead. Furthermore, make sure you are exercising regularly, since physical activity is one of the healthiest ways to manage feelings and emotions. For more advice from our Mental Health co-author, like how to find support for sex addiction, scroll down.


Does a high sex drive mean better sex?

Sexual desire, unsurprisingly, is important for our relationship and sexual satisfaction. In one study focusing on couples, they found the more people experienced sexual desire throughout the day, the better their sex lives.

The important point here is that we shouldn’t “switch off” sexually during the day – a healthy fantasy life that boosts our desire outside the bedroom could lead to a better time once the bedroom door is closed and the action begins.


“Leigh has the ability to lead you down a path you knew existed, but couldn’t find on your own. Our sessions together have made me feel strengthened, and I’ve been given tools that I use daily to help further cultivate security within myself and my sexuality”

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2. Normative Issues

2.1 Good and Bad Sex

&ldquoGood sex&rdquo and &ldquobad sex&rdquo can refer to moral, pleasurable, aesthetic, practical, legal, and, especially with sex, naturalness (Soble 2008: 85&ndash87 Soble, with Halwani 2017: 8&ndash16). It is unclear what aesthetic sex is (this is in need of philosophical exploration), but applying some common aesthetic concepts, such as &ldquounity&rdquo, &ldquocoherence&rdquo, and &ldquocompleteness&rdquo&mdashconcepts used in defining the aesthetic experience (Beardsley 1982: chs. 1, 5, 16 cf. Levine 2006 Singer 2001: ch. 5)&mdashmight be useful: a sexual act can be coherent, unified, and fulfills the parties&rsquo expectations (this is Beardsley&rsquos view of completeness 1982: 85&ndash86). Assuming these three are the only components of aesthetic experiences, sexual activity can provide an aesthetic experience to its participants. Other concepts, such as &ldquobeauty&rdquo and its opposites (e.g., &ldquodullness&rdquo, &ldquomonotony&rdquo, &ldquothe disgusting&rdquo, &ldquothe insipid&rdquo) can also be relevant, though whether they retain their aesthetic sense when applied to sex is the question. This last point is as true, if not more, of &ldquopleasure&rdquo: Is there such a thing as aesthetic pleasure, and can it be a property of sexual acts?

Sex can also be practically or pragmatically good or bad: a &ldquosexting&rdquo politician can ruin his career, unprotected anal sex risks contracting HIV, sex without contraception risks pregnancy (if undesired), and public sex risks arrest. Practically good sex does not lead to bad results or has positive outcomes: a sense of rejuvenation, loss of calories, or a wanted pregnancy. We do not discuss aesthetic, practical, and legal considerations, though many issues that go under them are also moral (e.g., pregnancy and STDs).

&ldquoGood sex&rdquo most obviously refers to pleasurable sex. A sex act can be good or bad depending on the amount and intensity of the pleasure or pain it provides (Vannoy 1980: ch. 3), though pain in sex can contribute to its pleasure (in BDSM sex, e.g.). We must keep in mind the different senses of &ldquopleasure&rdquo that can come into play, though pleasure-as-sensation and pleasure-as-enjoyment are crucial because they are often the reason people pursue sexual activity. Imagine the sexual experience of a woman forced into marrying someone she finds undesirable, even revolting. Such negative emotions provide the crucial reason why consent is necessary. Note also how negative evaluations border on the moral: a disgusting sexual experience is both painful and, perhaps because of this, leaves a bad moral taste in one&rsquos mouth.

2.2 Sex and Morality

Sexual activity is either morally permissible or impermissible. There is consensus among philosophers that informed and voluntary consent is necessary for the moral permissibility of sex though there are dissenters, and consent&rsquos sufficiency is debatable (see below).

We usually think of sexual activity as neither obligatory nor supererogatory, but as permissible in that (genuine) consent is sufficient. Yet there are interesting questions. (1) Are there sexual acts that are good in some more positive sense? (2) Are there sexual obligations&mdashmoral obligations to engage in sexual activity? and (3) Are there sexual supererogatory actions?

The answer to (1) is &ldquoYes,&rdquo and the virtues help us see this: sexual activity can be caring, courageous, kind, generous, compassionate, or fair. Each is compatible with the activity being merely for the sake of sexual pleasure (not connected to love or other positive emotions), and each is done from a motive that is additional to, or in place of, that of sexual desire, and neither possibility subtracts from the goodness of the act. Actually, acting from sexual desire might diminish its goodness if sexual desire objectifies (see below). Thus, sexual activity can be morally evaluated as good beyond permissibility because of participant consent. Further questions concern sexual desire&rsquos connections to the virtues and the vices (especially temperance and intemperance) and how a virtuous (and vicious) agent relates to sex, including how they sexually act and what motivates such actions (Halwani 2003: ch. 3, 2018a, 2018b: ch. 7 Morgan 2003a).

(2) Clear cases of sexual obligations exist in relationships (though the obligations are likely imperfect) because sexual activity is an expected and crucial aspect of (especially monogamous) relationships. Note that ordinarily threatening harm to someone unless they have sex is morally wrong, but threats to end a relationship unless the other party has sex (&ldquoHave sex with me or I will break up with you&rdquo) are not obviously wrong, further indicating that sexual obligations exist (Anderson 2013 Soble 2017a Wertheimer 2003: ch. 12).

The difficult question is whether there are sexual obligations outside such relationships. If having sex is a basic need, perhaps plausible cases involve a health caretaker alleviating the sexual needs of a patient. Even if not a duty, such actions might be classified as supererogatory (Soble 2017a: 453&ndash54 see below). These cases are plausible only if sexual needs are basic and if certain professionals have duties to meet them. One can argue that although under the usual conception of &ldquohealth care professional&rdquo (e.g., a nurse) there are no such duties, society should create a category of such professionals to meet these needs&mdashif they are indeed basic.

Still, sexual obligations might exist outside professional roles, based in general duties of benevolence&mdashattending to someone&rsquos sexual needs would be similar to attending to someone&rsquos hunger (Soble 2017a: 454&ndash55). But who is to fulfill these obligations? What would their fulfillment amount to (is masturbating the beneficiary of the duty enough)? Do the gender and sexual orientation of the parties matter? These are tough questions, but they have their parallels in nonsexual domains&mdashWho has to fulfill the obligation to feed the starving? Is a plate of boiled rice enough or more sophisticated dishes are required?

But they might not be exactly parallel. The extent to which someone&rsquos sexual needs are properly met does somewhat depend on their sexual desires and preferences: a straight man&rsquos needs might not be met by a gay one, and straight women meeting men&rsquos sexual needs is troubling given sexism and gender-based oppression. Moreover, if X&rsquos sexual need cannot be alleviated by X masturbating, how the needs are to be met is a pressing question, and so is how the depth of a sexual need is determined to see whether it gives rise to an obligation.

Even if such sexual obligations do not exist, obligations to ourselves to develop or dampen certain sexual preferences might, assuming there are general moral obligations to ourselves. Pedophiles, for example, might have an obligation to change their preferences, not merely to refrain from acting on them. Other examples include obligations to change one&rsquos preferences (or their lack) for, say, members of a particular race, ethnic group, age group, body type, etc. These are more controversial, however, because it is not clear that such preferences are bad to begin with (Halwani 2017b Zheng 2016), and some might not be under our control as others are (preference for skin color vs. age group).

(3) A supererogatory action is permissible but not obligatory, is intended to benefit the recipient, involves, or probably involves, &ldquoa significant reduction in the interests or good of the agent, [o]r the act is risky, significantly, not trivially&rdquo, and is such that the agent knows or truly believes this in advance (Soble 2017a: 452 the agent&rsquos belief has to be true falsely believing that the act is risky might disqualify the act from being supererogatory). There can easily be permissible, non-obligatory sexual actions intended to benefit the recipient. So everything hinges on the criterion of serious risk to the agent.

The inclusion of risk is controversial, because one can imagine non-obligatory actions that greatly benefit another without risk to the agent (the examples of supererogation given in Heyd 2015 include both risk and non-risk cases). But it is plausible to assume it because it explains why the agent, not only the act, is admirable, and (see below) without risk it is implausible to speak of supererogatory sexual acts. What are the risks to the agent in the case of sexual supererogation? Risk of pregnancy is one, risk of contracting serious (or not so serious) diseases is another. But consider: X is attracted to and wants to have sex with Z, whom X meets in a bar. For some reason, having sex is a crucial need for Z, and X knows this. X also knows that were X to have sex with Z, there&rsquos a serious risk that Y, X&rsquos partner, will find out and dissolve the relationship with X, a relationship that X values. X nonetheless has sex with Z (and enjoys it). This satisfies the conditions for a supererogatory act, but it is doubtful that X performs one. The presence of sexual desire and the prospect of sexual pleasure lower the degree of the supererogation, if not entirely nullifying it. This is not parallel to other cases of supererogation, in which no additional motive to wanting to help someone exists. In X&rsquos case, X intends to benefit Z but also to derive pleasure from the sexual act. This might affect its supererogatory status.

Thus, risk to the agent might not be sufficient perhaps the agent must also lack the sexual desire for the action or find it undesirable. The degree of supererogation increases in direct proportion to that of undesirability. As awful as it sounds, this fits with the type of cases that would come to mind in thinking of supererogation: sex with the least physically desirable. But there is room for subjectivity: a young gay man not attracted to other young men would find sex with them undesirable, so having sex with one out of kindness would be supererogatory in his case.

Is sexual activity like any other activity in that the same moral rules apply to it?

[N]o conduct otherwise immoral should be excused because it is sexual conduct, and nothing in sex is immoral unless condemned by rules which apply elsewhere as well. (Goldman 1977: 280)

This is true at a general level because the same general moral features (e.g., harm) affect sexual acts. But it might be false at more specific levels: sexual violation of the body by a penis or an object makes the violation distinct. This has to do with how one experiences sexual bodily violations, thereby making sexual consent a crucial moral aspect of sexual relations (Wertheimer 2003: 107&ndash112). Moreover, if Kant is right, the objectifying nature of sexual desire makes it unique. If virtue ethicists are right, actions can be right and wrong because they are sexually temperate and intemperate: seducing the ex-boss&rsquos husband is vengeful or intemperate, depending on the motive (Carr 2007 Halwani 2018a, 2018b Piers 1999). The specialness of sex might be explained by sexual desire&rsquos rootedness in biology and its being directed at the bodies of other human beings (Dent 1984: ch. 2 and passim).

2.2.1 Consent

Consent is crucial because (a) it transforms an otherwise wrong act into a permissible one (though not necessarily to a good act) (b) in heterosexual sex, men and women might importantly differ when it comes to sex and (c) sexual violation is typically experienced as very harmful (Wertheimer 2003: 119&ndash121).

There is general consensus among philosophers that valid or genuine consent (henceforth &ldquoconsent&rdquo) by all the parties to a sex act is necessary and sufficient for the moral permissibility of the sex act (Archard 1998 Mappes 1987 Miller & Wertheimer 2010 Primoratz 2001 Wertheimer 2003 but see Pateman 1988), though what valid consent consists of is an intricate issue (to which Wertheimer 2003 is dedicated). Yet the sufficiency of consent can be questioned. If, for example, sexual desire by nature objectifies, as the Kantian view has it, then the consent of the parties is insufficient&mdashthey consent to a wrong action (see below).

Another reason to reject consent&rsquos sufficiency stems from some conceptions of what marital sex is. The theory of New Natural Law considers only marital sex&mdashwhich it understands as referring to sex acts between married partners who do it from the specific motive of the good of marriage (what this means, though, is unclear)&mdashis morally permissible (even good). The main reasons are the theory&rsquos view of marriage, which, following Thomas Aquinas, is understood as a basic good, and the view of marital sexual acts as reproductive and unitive, as two-in-one flesh communions. Thus, although consent to the sexual act is necessary, it is not sufficient: the sex has to be done from the motive of the good of marriage (Finnis 1993 George 2003 George & Bradley 1995 Lee & George 1997).

Two prominent objections to the New Natural Law view are (1) that the view of marriage is both undefended and implausible: the connection between reproduction or biological two-in-one union and the morality of sex is unclear, and (2) that it is unclear why other goods (sexual pleasure) are ruled out as basic (Koppelman 2008 see also Biggar & Black 2000).

New Natural Law is a version of any type of view that limits the morality of sexual acts to specific domains. In addition to marriage, love is another such domain. A view confining sex to love need not insist also on marriage, on only two love partners, or that they be of different sex/gender. It requires only the presence of love. Other versions require only affection or a mutually respectful relationship (Hampton 1999 Nussbaum 1995). On such views, consensual casual sex between two strangers is impermissible.

But why must such factors be present for the permissibility of sex? One prominent reason is that sex is somehow morally dangerous, so something is needed to minimize from or erode this danger. Sex might make us treat our sexual partners as objects, and the power of sex might make us engage in sex with the wrong people, in the wrong circumstances, etc. Love or a respectful relationship minimizes these risks (Nussbaum 1995: 227&ndash231).

But if sex is objectifying, love or a respectful relationship might not prevent this objectification lovers or partners to a relationship end up objectifying each other (Soble 2017b: 304&ndash309). Moreover, if sex is so powerful or mind-numbing, being in a relationship might not make this power any less effective: partners soon start eyeing people outside the relationship. The argument must assume that being in a relationship turns off sexual desire for other people. This is implausible, however, given that in long-term relationships &ldquobedroom death&rdquo might eventually set in. There is also the thought that relationships do not escape the power of desire: people often have sex with each other prior to initiating a relationship.

A second type of reason against the sufficiency of consent is harm. Setting aside harm to third parties, if sexual activity leads to harm to one or more of its parties, then consent is not sufficient. This view might be plausible especially when it comes to women, given that many women engage in consensual sex but motivated by nonsexual desires, such as not wanting to put their partner in a foul mood. The harm is psychological, especially to their autonomy (West 1995). This implies that prostitutes are harmed women because of their consent to undesired sex, an implausible implication. However, even if specific formulations of the view are implausible (such as West&rsquos see Soble 1996: 37&ndash39, Wertheimer 2003: passim), this does not negate the claim that if sexual activity harms one or more of the consenting parties, the activity is wrong. Put this way, the argument sounds plausible: there is no good reason to deny that harmful sexual acts are wrong in that respect. One might object that this argument is paternalistic, telling people not to engage in sex when the sex is harmful (Soble 1996: 37&ndash39). This objection is true in that harmful sex gives the participants a reason to not engage in it, although it cannot be used to argue that social or legal forces should prevent this action (Wertheimer 2003: 130&ndash131).

A third type of reason relies on virtues and vices. Consider the following examples.

  • (1) A student offers their teacher sex for a high grade (the teacher consents).
  • (2) A guy has sex with another guy during a wake (neither is directly related to the dead person).
  • (3) Lisa hates yet desires Nancy she wants to sexually humiliate her Nancy knows this but desires Lisa, and she does not care. They have sex during which Lisa heaps verbal abuse on the trembling-with-desire Nancy.
  • (4) Omar is a handsome gay man who loves having sex with many guys to feed his ego. At the end of the day, all spent, he agrees to a seventh hookup because the guy is a catch. He tells the guy, &ldquoYou are my seventh today, so I might not be very energetic&rdquo. The guy says, &ldquoThis is actually a turn-on&rdquo.
  • (5) Isabel has undesired sex with her boyfriend so as not to deal with his foul mood (he is not abusive, but accustomed to getting his way), even though she knows that she need not agree to sex every time he wants it.

Each case has universal participant consent, yet each sexual act is wrong in some aspect (though not all are seriously wrong) because it exhibits a vice: unprofessional, intemperate, malicious (and possibly cruel and demeaning cf. Morgan 2003a), vain, and cowardly, respectively. Once again consent is not sufficient for the act&rsquos goodness, though perhaps it is for its permissibility (depending on the seriousness of the harm or vice).

The necessity of consent is often taken for granted by philosophers. But this can be questioned. For instance, viewing sexual activity and pleasure as casual might render consent unnecessary in some cases (Benatar 2002). On the &ldquocasual view&rdquo of sexual pleasure, sexual pleasure is like other pleasures and may be enjoyed like them, subject to the usual moral constraints. If so, liberals are correct to defend promiscuity and casual sex as morally permissible, but might be unable to explain the wrongness of pedophilia or the special wrongness of rape, because if sexual pleasure is casual it would be difficult to see why pedophilia is wrong, and why the wrongness of rape is as bad as we think it is perhaps it would be as bad as forcing &ldquosomebody to eat something&rdquo (Benatar 2002: 196). Arguing that children cannot consent to sex, so pedophilia is wrong, assumes that sexual pleasure is serious, otherwise children&rsquos consent would not be necessary. Indeed, a parent might want to instill in their child the ability to be sexually experienced, so might coerce the child into sex on occasion, much like parents coerce their children into activities deemed good for them (Benatar 2002: 195&ndash196). Thus, consent might not always be necessary. Briefly put, if sexual activity is trivial, sexual consent would not be important (or as important as we think).

Since we do consider sex to be important (imagine claiming that incest or sex with animals is &ldquocool&rdquo because sex is trivial), the casual view of sex must be wrong. But then promiscuity and casual sex cannot be easily defended on liberal grounds, and a significance view of sex&mdashthat sex is a serious matter&mdashis correct (Benatar 2002: 191&ndash192). Thus, if the liberal is to accept the significance view of sex, she must shield casual sex and promiscuity from moral censor.

One strategy is to argue that sex is significant in that it involves one&rsquos most important private space: one&rsquos body. Suppose that X is a social person, always happy to have guests over at X&rsquos house. One day, X discovers that some people have entered her apartment and used it to entertain themselves. X feels justifiably violated, indicating that the violation of private spaces is a serious wrong. If this is true of an apartment, it is truer of one&rsquos body, especially since sexual violation usually involves the insertion of something in the body. This explains why sexual violations are experienced as deeply traumatic (Wertheimer 2003: ch.5). Sex is significant because it involves the involvement one&rsquos most important and private space (cf. Brogaard 2015: 188&ndash190).

Another strategy is to reject a single view of sexual pleasure as either casual or significant and argue that, depending on between whom the pleasure occurs, it might or might not be casual.

But even if (or when) sex is significant, it does not follow that it must be experienced only in the context of love, deep affection, etc. What follows instead is that consent is necessary. Thus, sex may be casual or promiscuous, as long as consent is secured.

2.2.2 Objectification

Objectification is a perennial issue in the philosophy of sex. It originates in Kant&rsquos moral philosophy, and many feminists have adopted its language to criticize, for example, pornography, though whereas Kant was concerned with the objectifying nature of sexual desire, feminists do not target sex as such, but only in the context of patriarchy, claiming that it involves the sexual objectification of women by men in certain contexts (see below some claim that all heterosexual sex is poison under patriarchy, e.g., Dworkin 1987). Indeed, sexual desire might not be necessary for the claim that a woman is sexually objectified under patriarchy: a man need not sexually desire a woman to catcall her.

Sexual objectification is treating or considering a person only as a sex object. Casual sex, watching pornography, catcalling, ogling, and other examples all allegedly involve sexual objectification. The &ldquoonly&rdquo is important because otherwise there is no basis for moral complaint given that we frequently treat each other as objects. It is unclear whether objectification can consist of mere mental regard or whether it must have a treatment component (ogling someone is interesting because it is unclear whether it is treatment or mere regard). Some philosophers (Papadaki 2017 Langton 2009 Nussbaum 1995) define &ldquosexual objectification&rdquo broadly enough to include mere regard (others, e.g., LeMoncheck [1985: ch. 1] do not). The inclusion of regard is wise because objectification seems to involve mere attitudes and perceptions (e.g., ogling, the regard found in watching pornography). X then sexually objectifies Y if, and only if, X treats or regards Y only as a sexual object.

The importance of objectification stems from a view of human beings as more than objects (LeMoncheck 1985: ch. 1 Papadaki 2017). If human beings, regardless of individual merit, have elevated moral status in virtue of having rationality, dignity, autonomy, or some such property, reducing someone to a lower level is wrong. But how common the actual occurrence of sexual objectification and how serious it is, are additional questions. It seems rare to treat our sexual partners as mere objects in any obvious and troubling ways: not only are we aware of their humanity, we are also attentive to it. Indeed, among the various ways of objectification&mdashinstrumentality, denial of autonomy, inertness, fungibility, violability, ownership, and denial of subjectivity (this is Nussbaum&rsquos list [1995: 257] cf. Langton 2009: 228&ndash229)&mdashonly instrumentality is common. Others, such ownership and denial of subjectivity, seem rare (Halwani 2017a). Clear cases of sexual objectification include sexually-motivated rape and catcalling.

The Kantian view is that sexual desire objectifies by its nature and makes it impossible for the sexual partners to satisfy the Categorical Imperative. Equally problematic on this view is X objectifying him or herself&mdashmore accurately, allowing him or herself to be objectified by Y. Indeed, self-objectification is what makes the view particularly Kantian (Soble 2017b: 313). It also marks another difference with feminists&rsquo understanding of objectification.

Sexual desire objectifies by its nature because when X sexually desires Y, X desires Y&rsquos body and body parts, especially the sexual ones, making it hard, if not impossible, to treat the humanity in Y as an end (Kant 1930 [1963: 164]). Only sexual desire among our inclinations is directed at human beings as such, not &ldquotheir work and services&rdquo (Kant 1930 [1963: 163]). Although it is morally permissible to use each other for all sorts of purposes as long as they involve our &ldquowork and services&rdquo, sexual interactions are different. In almost every interaction with each other, we are interested in some ability, talent, or service that another can perform, an aspect intimately connected to their rationality. In these cases, either X does not desire Y&rsquos body (but Y&rsquos abilities, talents, or services) or X desires it but in service to Y&rsquos abilities. Only with sexual desire (and, Kant says, in the rare case of cannibalism 1930 [1963: 162&ndash63]) does X desire Y as a body, as an object. X wants to enjoy Y herself, not her beautiful voice, her massaging abilities, etc. And if X desires Y&rsquos abilities, it is in service to Y&rsquos physicality. Sexual desire renders people objects by reversing our normal relationship with their bodies. Their bodies become the objects, not the instruments, of our attention. Kant thought that only marriage can make objectification tolerable, though his argument is implausible (Kant 1930 [1963: 163] see Soble 2013b, 2017b Denis 2001 Wertheimer 2003: 130&ndash135).

Consent is thus not sufficient for permissible sex because consenting to sex is consenting to objectification, to something wrong (Soble 2017b: 303&ndash304). Kant&rsquos view indicates also why including regard in a definition of &ldquosexual objectification&rdquo is plausible: even though X and Y treat each other well during sex, they still regard each other as mere sex objects.

The phenomenology of sexual desire seems to confirm Kant&rsquos point: The &ldquoother&rsquos body, his or her lips, thighs, buttocks, and toes, are desired as the arousing parts they are, distinct from the person&rdquo (Soble 2013b: 302). During a good sexual act, even with one&rsquos lover, at some point they focus on ass, cock, pussy, tits, etc. (Vannoy 1980: 14). Kant&rsquos view that sexual desire and activity are different&mdashperhaps even unique&mdashfrom other ways we view and interact with other people seems correct, providing support for the conclusion that sexual desire objectifies.

Sexual desire seems also powerful: its pull is strong and its voice loud, insisting, and persistent, so much so that people do irrational and immoral things to satisfy it. This might be a gendered feature of sexual desire, truer more of men than of women, though throughout history, and in today&rsquos popular culture especially, women have often been portrayed as sexually insatiable (see Anderson & Struckman-Johnson 1998 Soble 2008: ch. 10). Of course, sexual partners normally observe limits on how they treat each other: they do not violate each other, treat each other literally as objects, and so on, exactly because they understand that they may not treat people in such ways. Thus, sexual desire operates within moral red lines.

The Kantian problem of objectification cannot be easily solved. Arguing that there is no objectification because human beings have no special moral status from which they can be lowered (Soble 2002: 53&ndash63) does not meet Kant on his own grounds (as Soble insists in 2017b). Claiming that parties to the sexual act normally consent to it (Mappes 1987), that objectification is okay as long as the relationship is respectful (Nussbaum 1995: esp. 227&ndash231), or that sexual partners attend to each other&rsquos sexual needs (Goldman 1977: 282&ndash283 Singer 1984: 382) also do not solve the problem because none addresses the nature of sexual desire (Soble 2017b).

Two other options are to accept the problem as a problem (but perhaps minimize it Halwani 2017a) or to argue that sexual desire among human beings is not always objectifying. This is not merely the idea, insisted on by the intentional view, that sexual desire in human beings is complex, because a Kantian view of sex can accommodate this point, but that

there is far more to sex than the desire to use another&rsquos body in a degrading manner for your selfish pleasure. Even the elements in sexual desire closest to this are combined, at least in healthy people, with other elements of human emotion that radically transform their meaning. (Wood 2008: 227)

Kant&rsquos view, however, can also accommodate this insight. For example, X might sexually desire Y because Y is, among other things, a kind person, such that X would not have desired Y otherwise. But once X desires Y, X desires Y&rsquos body and body parts. Sexual desire can be selfish while layered in other elements of human emotions, and the Kantian view need not be confined to a simplistic view of sexual desire such that it is crassly selfish or always acted on in a degrading &ldquomanner&rdquo Kantian sex can be attentive to the other&rsquos needs.

Nonetheless, the above idea that sexual desire can be combined with healthy emotions makes it possible that sexual desire is not always toxic, though how remains unclear. To succeed, sexual desire needs to be injected with healthy emotions, and not merely added to them, so that its nature changes on particular occasions.

On the Kantian view, not all sexual activity is objectifying: any sexual activity not stemming from sexual desire might not be objectifying. Even in those cases when sexual activity is objectifying, its seriousness varies: in consensual encounters it is drowned by other moral factors, whereas in (sexually motivated) rape it is very serious as sexual desire is the primary motive. (The motive is not to sexually objectify someone, as this is rare instead, X regards Y in a way that is sexually objectifying.)

Moreover, it is unclear how sexual objectification differs between men and women, especially if men and women experience sex differently. Men experience sexual desire more frequently and insistently than women, though both are similar in their enjoyment of sexual activity (Ogas and Gaddam 2001: chs. 3 and 4 Symons 1979: 179 Wertheimer 2003: 38&ndash46). Thus men might engage in more sexual objectification than do women given that men think about sex more, ogle others more, and are more easily turned on visually. Since during sexual activity both would sexually objectify each other roughly equally, men would sexually objectify women overall more than women would men. Men also consume pornography (straight and gay) far more than women do, so would engage in much more sexual objectification than do women (by viewing people on-screen, by viewing people as mere sexual objects, etc.). It is perhaps in this sense that pornography allows women (and men, as objects of other men&rsquos desire) to be objectified, not so much in the feminist sense, as I&rsquoll explain next.

Some feminists have argued that pornography objectifies women by dehumanizing them, and it dehumanizes them by depicting them as mere sexual instruments for men (Hill 1987), by depicting their pleasure as only for the men&rsquos (Longino 1980), by endorsing this treatment (Longino 1980 Eaton 2007), or by sending the message that all women are like this (Garry 1978). But these claims seem unconvincing. Pornography shows both men and women sexually enjoying each other, and it is difficult to prove that women&rsquos pleasure is depicted as merely for the men&rsquos (one might as well argue for the reverse) because the scenes themselves do not tell us anything (Soble 2002: 19&ndash20, 28, 98, 196 1996: 225&ndash227). Nor does pornography seem to send messages about the status of women, whether about the depicted women or women in general. Doing so disables the viewer&rsquos ability to imagine the scenes as he wants, thereby undermining its own purposes of titillating him (Soble 1996: 231&ndash234). But pornography enables the sexual objectification of women by displaying them to the gaze of the male viewer (ditto for men in pornography, albeit the gay gaze). This form of objectification seems innocuous, as long as it is not implicated in harm towards women, either individually or as a class (Gruen 2006 see also Eaton 2007).

A deeper form of objectification is found in the view that pornography constructs women&rsquos sexuality in a bad way (MacKinnon 1993 Dworkin 1974, 1979). It eroticizes patriarchal ways of viewing women, so that sexual desire becomes infused with dominance (cf. Morgan 2003a: 388&ndash390). The sexual desires of young men who routinely consume pornography become desires for the sexual domination of women. Women become socially constructed sexual beings for men, such that men desire them as pornography depicts them&mdashas non-real beings: &ldquoobjectification comes to define femininity, and one-sidedness comes to define mutuality&rdquo (MacKinnon 1993: 26 see Mason-Grant 2004). This view, however, implausibly neglects sexual desire&rsquos biology, assuming that sexual desire can be fully socially constructed. Moreover, insofar as it is an empirical view, no proper evidence has been marshalled in its support (Diorio 2006 Tarrant 2014).

Sexual desire, as we have seen, is sufficient for objectification. However, it is not necessary. The guy catcalling a woman to feel part of the group is an example, and so are pornography directors and editors, who, by choosing the angle of the camera and the footage cuts, help sexually objectify the performers by presenting them to the viewer in particular ways similar reasoning applies to, say, brothel owners. Indeed, women themselves might have few options other than to sexually objectify themselves, in a society that values women mostly through their sexuality (Jütten 2016). This might be the most pernicious form of sexual objectification in that social forces direct or pressure (not necessarily force) women to adopt such self-identifications or self-presentations to lead better lives, though whether they are actually flourishing is harder to gauge.

Recently, the concept of &ldquoderivatization&rdquo has been used to examine sex and sexual practices (Parker 2017 Wolf 2016).

To derivatize something is to portray, render, understand, or approach a being solely or primarily as the reflection, projection, or expression of another being&rsquos identity, desires, fears, etc. The derivatized subject becomes reducible in all relevant ways to the derivatizing subject&rsquos existence. (Cahill 2011: 32 see also 2013)

This view might capture some central feminist problems with pornography, namely, the depiction of women&rsquos sexuality as reflecting men&rsquos sexual desires of women. &ldquoDerivatization&rdquo might also be a more accurate concept than &ldquoobjectification&rdquo because the latter relies on a mistaken view of human beings (that we are autonomous and non-bodily), whereas the former is based on a relational view of human beings (Cahill 2013).

The importance of &ldquoderivatization&rdquo notwithstanding, the above reasons do not clinch the case for its replacement of &ldquoobjectification&rdquo because &ldquoobjectification&rdquo need not assume that human beings are non-bodily and autonomous it can accept them as enmeshed in this world as they are (with varying degrees of autonomy). Moreover, &ldquoderivatization&rdquo seems not to cover all cases (or all cases well). Consider a closeted gay man who catcalls a woman only to impress his peers. He objectifies her but does not seem derivatize her. If the reply is that he catcalls that particular woman because she represents not his desires but, say, society&rsquos desires of what women should look like, then, given that for any sexual situation one can attribute derivatization to some party or other, &ldquoderivatization&rdquo stands in danger of being empty or too broad to be explanatory.

2.3 Sexual Perversion

The most famous contemporary philosophical account is Thomas Nagel&rsquos psychologically-based view of sexual perversion. &ldquoNatural&rdquo sexual desire involves a multi-leveled mutual awareness by two people of each other: X perceives sexual excitement in Y, Y perceives excitement in X, X perceives that Y is excited by X, and so on (1969: 10&ndash12). Sexual desire is complex in that it includes X&rsquos sexual arousal by Y and X&rsquos feeling sexual because of Y&rsquos arousal by X, and so on with higher levels. Sexual perversions are then standing preferences for sexual activity that does not involve such multi-levels of sexual arousal. Since this view locates naturalness and perversion in the agent&rsquos preferences, the sexual act itself need not mirror this structure only the desires need have this complexity. Thus, it is inaccurate to accuse it of being sexless (Solomon 1974: 336) or to evaluate it by giving examples of non-complex sexual acts (Kupfer 2016: 333).

Although this view accommodates some perversions, such as zoophilia, pedophilia, and &ldquointercourse with &hellip inanimate objects&rdquo because they &ldquoseem to be stuck at some primitive version of the first stage of sexual feeling&rdquo (Nagel 1969: 14), it yields counter-intuitive results: masturbation does not fare well on this view, depending on whether it insists on the perception of the actual (not imaginative) embodiment of desire in another person (Soble 2013a: 85&ndash87). It also misunderstands how perversions usually work: a coprophiliac does not normally desire sex with feces, but to incorporate feces in his sexual act with another, which could involve multi-levels of perception. Moreover, the account does not capture common intuitions about natural and perverted sex: it goes beyond the plausible idea that the arousal of one partner increases the other&rsquos, to that of multi-layered arousal&mdashan unintuitive idea. Similar views rely on the idea that natural sexual desire is interpersonal, such as that it culminates in love (Scruton 1986: ch. 10) and that it communicates attitudes and feelings (Solomon 1974 see Halwani 2018b: ch. 9 for discussion).

A non-psychological account of sexual perversion, one closer to folk biology, claims that only reproduction allows us to distinguish perversions from non-perversions (Ruddick 1984: 287 cf. Gray 1978). This does not mean that every act has to be reproductive, only that natural sexual desires &ldquocould lead to reproduction in normal physiological circumstances&rdquo (Ruddick 1984: 288). Thus, a heterosexual couple having intercourse but not intending to procreate are not engaging in perverted sex: their desire is of the kind that, under &ldquonormal physiological circumstances&rdquo, could lead to reproduction (1984: 288).

The account might have implausible implications, however. Anyone who prefers (heterosexual) oral sex to intercourse would be perverted. Moreover, any heterosexual couple that incorporate fetish objects, urine, feces, and so on, in their sexual intercourse would be sexually natural (Gray 1978: 190&ndash192 Primoratz 1999: 53&ndash54). Indeed, coprophilia can sink all the above accounts: two people who exhibit inter-personal attitudes in the form of multi-level perceptions, and who have sexual intercourse of the reproductive type, communicating healthy emotions sincerely, yet use feces in their activity would counter-intuitively not be perverted on any of the above accounts.

Even though explaining perversion in terms of biology seems obvious, &ldquoperversion&rdquo is opposed not only to &ldquonatural&rdquo, but also to &ldquonormal&rdquo, and the natural and the normal do not fully overlap. Moreover, the concept of &ldquoperversion&rdquo could refer to many things: the immoral, disgusting, bizarre, and biologically abnormal, among others. Using only one of these to define &ldquoperversion&rdquo will probably fail. It might also be that the methodology of discussing this concept is flawed, failing to account for the concept&rsquos social function (Miller 2010). Thus, some philosophers have proposed to get rid of the concept altogether (Priest 1997 Primoratz 1999: ch. 6 Ruse 1988: 197&ndash201). Recently, however, a new account of it in terms of its inhibiting &ldquoshared joy, mutual exploration, self-affirmation, and union&rdquo was offered (Kupfer 2016: 351). But this view seems to set the bar too high for what counts as non-perverted.

A good account of perversion might have to be prescriptive, capturing the core of perversion but not necessarily capturing all our beliefs about it (it should explain why our beliefs are mistaken when they are). Furthermore, it will likely be a psychological account, a preference to have sex with or involving certain types of object that are anti-life, such as bodily waste and corpses, and that are biologically odd, such as inter-species sexual intercourse. Evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology would have to play crucial roles.


The physiological basis of human sexual arousal: neuroendocrine sexual asymmetry

Normal sexual arousal and response suppose an integrated process involving both physiological and psychological processes. However, the current understanding of sexual arousal does not provide a coherent model that accounts for the integration of multiple physiological systems that subsequently generate a coordinated sexual response at both the spinal peripheral and cerebral central levels. Herein we suggest a model that involves both sympathetic and parasympathetic activation during sexual arousal via the two classes of gonadal hormones, androgens and oestrogens. We discuss the manner in which gonadal hormones may activate such a system, transforming pre-pubertal (non-erotic) genital stimulation to post-pubertal erogenization of stimulation and subsequent sexual arousal. Finally, we indicate that the different balance of androgens and oestrogens in men and women may generate asymmetric effects on each of the components of the autonomic nervous system, thereby explaining some of the differences in patterns of sexual arousal and the responses cycle across the sexes.


Role of Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are the mechanism for these signals. Studies in rats have shown that it is possible to cause rats to orgasm just by activating certain neurotransmitter receptors in the brain.

In humans, serotonin is the neurotransmitter most clearly associated with ejaculation. SSRIs work by preventing cells from reabsorbing (reuptaking) serotonin. This means that signals caused by serotonin are extended, lasting for a longer period of time.

The chronic use of SSRI antidepressants has been shown to extend the time between erection and ejaculation in men. This is why they are sometimes prescribed as a treatment for premature ejaculation.

Interestingly, studies in rats have shown that where the serotonin is changed its effects. When serotonin is injected into some parts of the rat brain, it causes a delay in ejaculation. In other areas of the brain, it causes ejaculation to take place.

Dopamine also plays a role in ejaculation, although its role has not been as thoroughly explored as that of serotonin.

Studies in rats suggest that dopamine stimulation can cause ejaculation to take place. In humans, there is also research to support this.  

People with schizophrenia who are treated with antipsychotic drugs that block a particular type of dopamine receptor (D2-like receptors) are likely to find it difficult, or impossible, to ejaculate. Those same drugs have been tested in men with premature ejaculation.

Similar to SSRIs, antipsychotics seem to extend the time between arousal and ejaculation. In addition, there is a small amount of data suggesting that mutations in dopamine transporters may make some men more likely to experience premature ejaculation.  


Assimilating the Forces of Biology and Culture

Countless human habits, traditions, and artifacts stem from the evolution of these three emotion systems: lust, attraction, and attachment. Among them: the nuclear family our myriad customs for courtship our procedures for marriage our terms for kin and the plots of many great operas, novels, plays, films, songs, and poems. But these brain systems also contribute to the worldwide incidence of rape, stalking, homicide, suicide, and clinical depression, as well as the frequency of adultery and divorce.

Are we puppets on a string of DNA? Can we control our sexual and family lives? Should scientists seek ways to medicate stalkers and spouse abusers? Should lawyers, judges, and legislators view the serial rapist as a chemically disabled person? What we know about the brain systems for lust, attraction, and attachment as yet suggests only directions, not definite answers.

For example, I believe that brain chemistry plays a role in many serious, violent crimes. As scientists learn more about the brain, more lawyers and judges will be obliged to take this biological component into consideration in deciding the punishment of serial rapists, stalkers who murder, and perennial spouse abusers.

I think biology plays a less consequential role in the plight of all the normal men and women who struggle with inappropriate sexual yearnings, the “roving eye,” restlessness in long relationships, and other artifacts of evolution that threaten to destroy their family lives. Here is my supposition. Along with the evolution of the brain circuits for the sex drive, romantic love, marriage, and divorce, other brain networks emerged as well. The most important was a neural system that enables us to rise above our inappropriate or inconvenient mating tendencies.

Central to this system is the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain that lies directly behind the forehead this expanded dramatically during human prehistory. Neuroscientists have dubbed this region of the brain the “central executive” or the “crossroads” of the mind because it has connections to many sections of the brain and body and is devoted to the active processing of information. With the prefrontal cortex (and its connections) we keep track of the myriad bits of data that register in our brains, order and weigh them as they accumulate, and find patterns in them. Using the prefrontal cortex and its connections, we also reason hypothetically, analyze contingencies, consider options, plan for the future, and make decisions.

The mind assembles data in novel patterns, so with the emergence of the prefrontal cortex, humans acquired a brain mechanism that enabled them to behave in unique ways—ways qualitatively different from behavior emanating from biology or experience alone. Indeed, given the impressive decision-making power of the prefrontal cortex, this agglomeration of brain tissue is probably the locus of what we term, variously, the self, ego, or psyche.

In other words, I believe that biology and culture—nature and nurture—are but two of the major forces shaping human behavior. The third is our psyche, our capacity for reason, choice, and self-directed action. The three forces always interact, of course. Biology predisposes us to love in general ways. Cultural experiences modify those predispositions, overriding some, accentuating others. Yet each of us assimilates the forces of biology and culture in his own fashion. We are capable of monitoring and at times overriding the power of lust, attraction, attachment, and detachment. We have evidence of that power. Some 75 percent of American men and 85 percent of American women report that they are not adulterous. Half of all Americans marry for life.

In the movie The African Queen, Katherine Hepburn remarks to Humphrey Bogart, “Nature, Mr. Alnutt, is something we were put on this earth to rise above.” As scientists discover more about the interactions among brain systems and brain regions, I predict that they will come to appreciate the pivotal role of the psyche in directing human action. Because of this brain architecture, I think that those in the medical and legal communities will come to be convinced that most men and women have the physiological capacity to refrain from stalking a rejecting partner. Most people can overcome their restlessness in long relationships and most can say no to adultery and divorce.

Certainly physicians should continue to use their knowledge of brain chemistry to alleviate the clinical depression that can be associated with romantic rejection. Even stalkers probably should be treated chemically. But from the perspective of the legal and medical communites, most of us are, in large part, responsible for how we love.

So scientists are beginning to answer Shakespeare’s question, “what t’is to love.” This panoply of feelings stems from three primary and primordial circuits in the brain for lust, attraction, and attachment. But this academic knowledge can never destroy the actual satisfaction, craving, or ecstasy of loving. From deep in the emotional furnace of the mind comes chemistry that carries the magic of love.


Watch the video: Preview: Healing through intimacy and sexuality (May 2022).


Comments:

  1. Kazrajinn

    How much is possible.

  2. Tomeo

    It was and with me. We can communicate on this theme.

  3. Ulz

    Bravo, you've got a great thought



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