I’ve enlisted the services of the effervescent angel Melissa Lee as my erotica writing coach, sex therapist, and friend. I’ve been writing journal entries based on her prompts, and she’s challenged me to describe what the heck I’m actually looking for when it comes to sex. So, as befits a chronic over thinker, I’d like to start by defining my terms, the first of which is obsessional neurosis, from Marc Hayat on Encyclopedia.com:
“The term obsessional neurosis (or compulsive neurosis ) denotes a condition in which the patient’s mind is intruded upon (against his or her will) by images, ideas, or words. The patient’s consciousness nevertheless remains lucid and his or her power to reason remains intact. These uncontrollable obsessions are experienced as morbid inasmuch as they temporarily deprive the individual of freedom of thought and action. Sometimes the defenses can eliminate the anxiety and the symptoms, but at the price of displacing characteristics of primitive obsession (uncontrollability, compulsions) onto the defense mechanisms.”
Essentially, I’ve had unacceptable thoughts, upon which I’d deploy defense mechanisms, and the defense mechanisms would acquire compulsive tendencies.
The unacceptable thoughts from which I’d try to escape may include:
• I’m a failure, I’m always going to be a failure, and I should just kill myself to get away from all of this.
• Concetta is miserable in our home with our children, despite my having given away my freedom for years and forced myself to go and get tortured every day at work.
- Concetta is saying stuff to the kids that will scar them for life and I can’t do anything to stop it. When I confront her, she blows up at me, and she just keeps saying shitty things to them.
• I’m trapped in this life. I’ll never escape. I’m getting older and my life is slipping away.
• I’ve made too many mistakes; I’ve fucked up too many things, and it’s never going to get better.
• Nothing I do will ever change these circumstances
• I have to choose between fulfilling my own wishes and exploring my own life and hurting Concetta, and leaving my kids with a broken home and without a consistent father in the household.
“[Freud attributed the intrusive thoughts to the] existence of an intrapsychic conflict of sexual origin that mobilizes and blocks all flows of energy. Freud proposed a traumatic etiology for obsessional neurosis. An early sexual event occurs before puberty; this event is a source of pleasure to the child. The individual experiences strong feelings of guilt and is overcome by self-reproach. These feelings are repressed and then replaced by a primary system of symptoms and traits: scrupulousness, shame, mistrust of self. The success of these defenses allows the individual to go through an apparently healthy period. But eventually these defenses are exhausted and there is a return of the repressed memories with the outbreak of the illness and its attendant symptoms.”
“He stressed the role of fixation and regression to the anal-sadistic stage. He suggested “the possibility that a chronological outstripping of libidinal development by ego development should be included in the disposition to obsessional neurosis. A precocity of this kind would necessitate the choice of an object under the influence of the ego-instincts, at a time when the sexual instincts had not yet assumed their final shape, and a fixation at the stage of the pregenital sexual organization would thus be left” (p. 325). Thus, in the object relation, hate will precede love and “obsessional neurotics have to develop a super-morality in order to protect their object-love from the hostility lurking behind it. He saw it as the source of the doubt, compulsions, and ambivalence that are characteristic of obsessional functioning.”
So, pre-pubertal, five year old Simon Vaughn. He’s precocious; he reads above grade level, he rememberers conversations and stories, and makes connections in a way that leads his parents to attribute him with genius level intellect, the smartest of his brothers, and for his father, Victor, to project upon him his own aspirations, failed ambitions, and insecurities, co-mingling their fates and ensnaring Simon.
Simon has a far more advanced ego development than he does libidinal development at this stage. Or, in modern terms, he doesn’t have the emotional intelligence to match his intellect. He’s still a baby, at five, even though his comprehension outdistances his peers and brothers. What’s his conflict at this stage? He behaves. He does what he’s told. His brothers don’t, especially his younger brother Craig. Craig pesters him, and he gets all of their mother’s attention. Simon doesn’t get attention like that from his mother. He has to ask for attention. (I’ll leave the third person voice for now).
One anecdote I remember, is when I was in Kindergarten, my mom would take Craig with her everywhere on her errands, because he got kicked out of day care and pre-school for biting the other kids (age 3). Craig would get our mother (Esther) to buy him toys. Esther would feel guilty, and she told me she would get me equal value worth of toys. I wanted a Robie Robot Banker toy that ate coins from Radio Shack. So, I waited until Craig’s presents totaled the $9.99 sticker price, and got my toy.
I most remember my mother’s attention when she fought with my Dad over the piano. Victor would sit with me while I was practicing, and he would get so frustrated with me when I would do things wrong that he would shake me. This freaked out Esther, and eventually I was made to stop piano lessons.
So, let’s say this is the source of my fixation. I want my mother’s attention, and I can’t get it automatically like my brothers do. I have to work harder. I have to save my money. I have to sit with my father, and she’ll intervene if I get too beat up in the process, if it seems like I’m being abused.
In keeping with Carolyn Elliott’s Existential Kink, the problems I have are what I want. I’m in a stressful job and I get beat up there, and so I earn the caretaker I never consistently had.
“In “Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety,” Freud described the two main defense mechanisms in obsessional neurosis that replace repression: undoing what has been done and isolation. The first of these, undoing, means making something that has already happened “unhappen” by means of a symbolic motor action; it is also found in magical practices, folk customs, and religious rituals. The second, isolation, involves the motor sphere and consists in the fact that after an unpleasurable event there is a pause during which nothing further can happen, no perception is possible, and no action can take place. Motor isolation functions to guarantee a break in the connection of thoughts.”
“In the same way that the obsessional patient enacts the taboo against touching (because he fears that contact with the object will force him to face his unbound ambivalence between love and hate), the isolation of an impression or an activity, by means of a break in the chain of thoughts, symbolically indicates that he does not want to allow thoughts relating to it to “contaminate” other thoughts. This mechanism is present in normal people in their everyday mental activities involving concentration.”
I feel unattractive and unloved. To undo this, I put myself in situations where I can be recognized as attractive, and rewarded with sex with a stranger. I get in these compulsive thought patterns, about hooking up with girls. I listen to books on seduction, or pick up artists. I think about how to do it. I google “best bars to get laid at in Boston,” or “Austin,” or “LA” when I’d travel to different cities. I’d think about what to say, and how to dress, how to present myself.
Here’s a journal entry from it: “I’m a guy who wants to go to random parties and stand next to girls, just kind of hoping they’re going to pick him. And he thinks a lot about what he could do, or what might happen, but he doesn’t really have that killer instinct to take those girls home. That’s what I did while I was in the fraternity at those parties, and that’s what I do when I go out on these side quests. .
I delude myself into thinking I’m this bishounen (Japanese anime archetype), this beautiful, transcendent personality and, who is so good, and so attractive, that others just can’t stop themselves from touching me. I recognize that I’m pretty average looking, but my brain likes to run off with itself.”
I conceive these “side quests,” experiences that I could have when I travel or when my family’s out of town. Here’s my journal entry from my visit to the sex club Escapade. Please excuse my horrible judgmental comments about people’s appearances, which I include to depict my instinctive responses to being there:
“I find the people much older and fatter than I expected. There’s a few that are slim, but they are not that pretty, and if they weren’t wearing short skirts, I wouldn’t even look at them. And then I watch them get fucked by two guys at the same time, with one pulling her arms back while she was blowing another, as he put fucks her from behind.
Two full figured women go into room to have a three-way. I am too shy to move. I spend a lot of time talking to a 50-ish woman who’s married, and has teenage children. When she asks me if I want to fool around, I tell her. I am too shy. On the one hand, I’m not attracted to her. On the other hand, I don’t want herpes. Or HPV. I actually don’t want anyone there to touch me. It’s dirty and it’s gross. All the people there are disgusting. There’s porn playing out all the televisions, and it’s trashy roadside porn store VHS style.
I fantasize and romanticize about these experiences while I’m outside of them, there’s this air of mystery and mastery and seduction and conquest, but when I get inside, it’s sleazy and tacky and not someplace I want to be. I’ve invested all of my romance and all my sexuality into my marriage and my family, and this extracurricular rutting is about as deep as a puddle.
I look like the kind of guy you take home to your parents, not the kind of guy who draws a woman’s eye at the end of the bar. And the sober version of myself* is nowhere near spontaneous or impulsive or reckless enough to go throw myself into something. If I had been drunk last night, who knows what would’ve happened. My fears:
2. Gay experiences
4. Getting arrested
The owner tells me the club is in an old horse stable, and after that it was a tanning bed warehouse, and there are chains and harnesses hanging from the ceiling. This history is appropriate, because people are fucking in cubicles like horses in stalls. And like tanning beds, this place is tacky as hell. ”
*On drinking and sex: my real married sex life is so much better when I’m sober, because I can pay attention and I don’t have a full bladder, and I can stay erect and come easily. When I went to Club Escapade, I was sober, and was there on a weeknight after a nine hour ED shift. The more I drink, the more I think about hitting on girls and try hitting on them. It’s like that movie Inside Out, and my dick takes the controls. My dick thinks he can land this plane in a strange woman’s pants, but he hasn’t done it yet.
So, I experience criticism and isolation and disappointment, and I ascribe random sexual encounters with the force to break me out of these negative mental sets. When confronted by the reality of them, I decide it’s not for me.