In previous posts, I have written at length on the relationship between emotions and sexuality. You can see some of these articles here and here. I think most people can conceptualize how emotions can play a large part in sexual expression, but what most people often don’t understand is how emotions can actually be the primary fuel of sexuality, and in some cases, may even be the source of sexual arousal itself.
When strong negative emotions such as anger are experienced, they feel extremely uncomfortable and painful to tolerate, so the natural human impulse is to escape away or defend oneself from the pain. We may try to distract ourselves from the pain by burying ourselves in work or in seeking thrills such as alcohol, drugs, or risky sex. At other times, we may develop what’s called a counterphobic reaction to the pain by actually courting more of it as a means of building mastery over it. By taking up a counterphobic response we actually adapt strategies to face the pain head on rather than run away from it.
One example of a counterphobic response is what is known as reaction formation, which means taking on an air of overly exaggerated positive affect in response to something that may fear or hate. Examples of this can be found in many social situations . We’ve all seen group situations where people may act as if they are ecstatic to see someone about whom they were just disparaging privately. Other examples of counterphobic behavior would be the individual who becomes a pilot in order to overcome a fear […]