Some Open Secrets About Sexual Arousal

Some Open Secrets About Sexual Arousal

The secrets of sexual arousal are hidden in plain sight. You just have to know what you’re looking for. Physical sexual arousal – the sexually aroused body – has been endlessly studied, most famously by Masters and Johnson in the 1960’s. And less rigorously but no less intensely by every sexual couple since the dawn of human self-awareness. Most couples study the male partner’s erections and the female partner’s state of lubrication carefully, for reassurance about their respective states of sexual arousal.  Urban legends rise and fall concerning other putative guides to one’s partner’s level of sexual arousal (see “nipple erection,” “pupil dilation”). But through all of this, we’re in the realm of the sexually aroused body. The sexually aroused mind has proved harder to study. Research on mental sexual arousal continues to await its Masters and Johnson. In the meantime, when patients ask me how to recognize arousal, I tell them to look for the following signs:      Attention When we’re aroused, sex grabs our attention.  We stop thinking about bills, worries, responsibilities — our entire portfolio of ordinary concerns.  Our time sense typically becomes impaired. (People tend to arrive late to meetings when they’re aroused). If someone gave us an IQ test during peak sexual arousal, we wouldn’t do very well on it. The tester might have a difficult time getting us to pay attention to the questions. Good sex makes us definitely dumber. And great sex can make us downright stupid.    Regression Arousal reduces us to an infantile level. We become, if all goes well, as naturally selfish as a small child. We don’t tolerate frustration...