By Barbara Brennan
Healing the multiple issues surrounding sex is a global industry. Whole armies of sex therapists, relationship counselors, and behavioral psychologists exist to deal with them. And are all greatly needed.
But even in this modern world of so-called sexual enlightenment, the majority of people still prefer to suffer in silence, too embarrassed or smothered by their cultural backgrounds to discuss their problems.
Sex, love, and relationship are such a complex combination that it is small wonder they create so much anguish.
How do we look at sex—as a source of personal gratification or as an expression of love and pleasure in the physical? Healthy sex is a way to experience union while in the body. You could also say it is the outflow of the life force. Sex is about the giving and receiving of essence through the body and the human energy field. Healthy sexuality happens through the intention to be true to oneself and to be in authentic deep contact with the other.
The vast majority of adult sexual issues stem from childhood. Instead of the glorious journey of discovery that these years should be, we learn through the distorted beliefs of society and our parents what is “good” and “bad.” Those beliefs are all held in the human energy gield, split the hara line, and suppress the essence. So as we grow up, we become unable to allow ourselves to open fully and receive the pleasure of relationship.
Understanding the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships is a huge breakthrough in itself. But giving ourselves permission to stop suffering, to stop recreating the wounds of our childhood, takes a lot of personal work and dedication.
It is important to learn the difference between healthy pain, which comes from letting go of the expectations of the child within us, and unhealthy pain, which comes from repeating the patterns of our childhoods over and over again.
In early childhood, we begin to develop one of five basic character types or personalities depending on the wounding we suffer. Or to be a little more exact, one character type usually dominates while we can take on elements of others. Very briefly, the five are:
Schizoid: Which begins with the infant’s perceiving maternal coldness, aggression, or hostility before or at birth. In adult life, this person will not want to be in the body.
Oral: In which the child feels deprivation or abandonment. It grows up with the belief that there will never be enough, that he or she is not enough.
Masochist: In which the wounding is overcontrol by the mother. The child grows to have a terror of humiliation yet humiliates and shames herself or himself.
Psychopathic: In which the child suffers betrayal by a parent and, as an adult, has a fierce need to be in control of others because of the underlying fear of that betrayal’s being repeated.
Rigid: In which the essence of the child was never recognized and it was rewarded only for achievement and perfection. As an adult, there is the constant striving for perfection, which can never be achieved.
It is not all doom and gloom! The authentic sides of these personalities contain many wonderful qualities. But here we are dealing with the wounded child and how it defends these wounds.
Let me give an example of a woman with an oral character-type defense and how it distorts her approach to love and relationships. Her parents were always too busy and did not express love. The child and later, the woman, is left starving for attention and contact. She experiences constant inner loneliness.
As a child, she had to work hard to get her parents’ attention by being cute or clever. In short, the child was precocious, her energy focused on getting her parents to notice her. As a woman, she is still seeking attention, needing the approval of those around her.
In a love relationship, the childhood habits will manifest as an inability to appreciate her own value and a chronic inner tension because she is always on tenterhooks, expecting her partner to abandon her—either physically or emotionally or mentally.
Sexuality will become currency to trade for emotional closeness. A person with an oral defense will crave the intense connection that sex offers. He or she will also use sex not just for the pleasure it offers but as a way of keeping her partner connected or close to her.
Even experiences of deep connection and intimacy will only temporarily heal the inner split. Contact will not really fill the emptiness that remains from childhood.
This is an example of unhealthy pain. Healthy pain would come from processing childhood wounding, letting go of the pain of a currently dysfunctional relationship, and dropping into the loneliness so that her essence can fill the empty space within. This deep contact with the self is the healing response.
Giving herself this healing response will allow her to have integrity, to honor herself, and to create a new belief that is positive and healthy: “I am lovable. I am worthy of being loved, of having a partner who wants to be with me.” From this healed place, sexuality will be a different experience.
Each character type will use sexuality differently. These are examples of the other four:
Schizoid: In a defended, unaware state, sex can be terrifying. It is too intensely physical and asks too much contact with the other at an uncomfortable level (schizoid relationships mostly occur at the level of ideas and intellect). For women with this defense, penetration can feel like invasion. For men, it can bring up terror of being consumed.
Healing: Sex can offer a sweet doorway to experience the physical as being safe, gentle, and pleasurable. If the person can ride the wave of terror that comes from too much contact, the pleasure of the present moment can be experienced.
Masochist: In the defended state, sex can feel intrusive. The person resists sexuality because of attachment to negativity. Sex can feel like a demand from “the other” rather than an inherent impulse to experience contact and joy.
Healing: Learning healthy boundaries is very important, as is reconnecting with the body and honoring it. He or she also needs to learn to move from the passive, victimized position to the dynamic, proactive role in relationships.
Psychopathic: In the defended state, the person needs to be the one to initiate, needs the chase to feel attractive, strong, in control. When the quarry is “caught” or once “success” is experienced, the person loses interest and moves on to the next cycle.
Healing: It involves letting go of the need to prove oneself so that the person can experience “beingness.”
Rigid: In the defended state, there is no connection to the seat of the soul. There is a split between the second and fourth chakras—sexuality and heart. The woman splits the saint and the whore. Actually, this is an outpicturing of inner defense against intimate contact. It can be hard for people with the rigid defense to soften in the heart area, so they try to meet their need for contact sexually, which often leads to promiscuity. Without sexual contact, he or she can’t experience beingness at all. They use sex as a way of feeling connected.
Healing: It comes in connecting heart and sexuality and in honoring sexuality as sacred and honoring the body as beautiful without seeing it as an object of sexuality only.
In summary, how complex it all is! No wonder we suffer! And yet, as I hope I have illustrated, all these issues can be healed. We learn a lot about ourselves as we do it.