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Sex and the Superego

“…Sex…is often viewed as an obstacle on the path of spiritual development due to the wild nature of sexual energy.” My question: what’s wrong with wild? And what’s right with wild?

The quote is from a post on Fractal Enlightenment. No, I don’t quite know what that means. But the writer has an excellent point. Activities that feel out-of-control can easily be labeled dangerous, never mind that the category includes sneezing, falling asleep, gestation, and my efforts to learn to surf. No matter how many innocuous examples one can find, out-of-control has a bad reputation. Wild, unless it refers to national parks, is often considered unwise.

With sex, there’s likely an additional factor and the above-mentioned blog makes that point well.
“Many wise traditions consider the peak moment of sexual energy the death of the ego. When somebody experiences intimacy and reaches orgasm, we feel vulnerable, defenseless, carefree and there is a sense of timelessness.”

Temporary death of the ego, described this way, sounds like it might be an okay thing. (Ego also has an undeservedly bad reputation.)

But the idea of death of the ego made me realize what’s likely at the base of a lot of the jumpiness about sex; it also brings about, for moments at least, death of the superego, the stilling of the inner voice tells us what to do and what not to do and what to feel terribly guilty about.

Hello I Am Guilty Nametag Wrong Bad Criminal Behavior

It’s a voice that can be a godawful tyrant. A friend of mine– a Freudian analyst, as it happens — once told me that I have the strongest superego he’s ever seen. I didn’t argue. Mine is obsessive, unforgiving, slides a bit into pathological. A conscience can cause as much pointless suffering and wasted energy as an addiction.

But I can well see that even a temporary quieting of the conscience could seem like a bad idea.

However, I think that in most folks the ego and superego have earned a few moments of time-out. And we don’t need to worry about the respite that sex provides.
Stray thought on another subject: A way to free your imagination and be more creative is “don’t make a big freakin’ deal out of it.” From an interview in Science of Mind magazine with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love and Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. What we do that gets in our way is making the effort to make something into a special category of activity that requires more of us that we can ordinarily come up with. So of course it gets scary. Instead, just do the making without thinking too hard about it.

Little baby paint by his hands.

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  • December 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm Reply

    I sure agree with both pieces of your post. Doing without thinking too much seems the essence of learning new physical things, like a dance step or Tai Chi. I wish it were easier for me to do these kinds of practice without thinking too much about it. Dr Bob

    • Peggy Payne
      December 14, 2015 at 9:43 pm Reply

      My New Year’s resolution I decided today, DrBob, is going to be doing-stuff-without-straining-or-striving.

  • December 15, 2015 at 1:08 pm Reply

    Something about that “death of the ego” theory has never seemed quite right, especially if you remember that “ego” is a bad translation of Freud’s word in German, which meant something more like “me.” I think you’re right about death of the superego — the “over me” who is watching, criticizing, and disapproving. Orgasm then is an expansion of the ego not its death, where superego shackles disappear and we feel enlarged, connected with another person, and at its very best, a part of something larger. Personally, I don’t feel orgasm as a loss of self but rather an enlargement.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm Reply

      Well said, Joe. I think the idea of death of ego depends on how one defines ego. The popular definition seems to refer more to the “egotistical” self than to the self. Using the original Freudian concept, I think you’ve nailed it, as you do so well on many topics on your superb blog, After Psychotherapy..

  • Bob Braxton
    January 27, 2016 at 8:11 pm Reply

    To affirm (sex) how do I mark my ballot? I love and embrace “wild” the nearby manifestations including a 32 year compost pile and brush pile, which managed to annoy my spouse for decades – at which point (less than one year ago) she posted a self-made poster of a baobab tree photo and the caption “Grandpa B’s vild side” – I love it. Also, the book “Switch” has a framework about effecting (any) change with figures of Rider, Elephant and Path. The energy is the elephont and when the rider has to work so hard to guide and control said energy, the effort sooner (than later) is exhausting!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 1, 2016 at 8:01 pm Reply

      That book, Switch, looks interesting, Bob; hadn’t seen it before. It seems highly popular years out from publication.

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