Mind, Body & Desire

streetcar_named_desireA Magic Pill for Desire?
In the June edition of Psychology Today magazine, an article titled “Learning to Lust” by Catherine Elton caught my eye. In it, she discusses the differences in the libidos of men and women and how creating an equivalent drug like Viagra for women may not be the answer. Elton found that “in women, desire is more a matter of mind than mechanics and seems to be more affected by partner relationships, what’s going on around them and perhaps most important how they feel about themselves”. Yet, one researcher believes that the differences between the genders are not so simple. Marta Meana at the University of Nevada Las Vegas believes that relationships can actually have detrimental effects on desire for both genders; as the duration of the relationship grows their desire declines. According to Meana, “if safety, comfort, love, and respect were as facilitative to female sexual desire as some of the relationally focused literature claims, then we should not see as many married women in happy relationships complaining of low desire”.
So if long-term relationships are bringing about this impediment of desire, what can the partner do to help bring the lust back? Meana thinks that the feeling ofbeing desired
may be the key. Elton further points to several studies that show women often fantasize about being ravished or found irresistible and summarizes by saying, “perhaps that’s why they are turned on by relationships at the onset: women want a commitment because it signals they are uniquely desired. but after a commitment has been made, it’s meaning changes”.


For women who feel empowered to improve their sexual satisfaction, Lori Brutto, a sex researcher and therapist, created a program to increase sexual responsiveness. Below is an abridged list of the 4 steps Brutto compiled to foster a stronger connection between the mind and the body’s sensations.

1. Women first learn the basics of mindfulness in a nonsexual context. The goal is to guide the mind back to the present whenever distracting thoughts arise.

2. Next, women learn to examine their bodies in a nonsexual way without generating distress. The aim is to lessen distractions by judgment of physical appearance during sex.

3. Women repeat the body-focused exercise, but this time with a shift in sexual attitude. The goal is to help women change the way they look at their body and enjoy sensations in a sexual way.

4. Last, women learn to connect bodily arousal and emotional pleasure with experimentation, such as with fantasies or erotica.

In the end, although the solution isn’t as simple as taking a pill, there are multiple ways in which improvements can be made to increase desire for your partner. Not only will these suggestions help inside the bedroom, but will bring about a multitude of benefits outside as well. And if these suggestions seem too daunting to undertake alone, individual or couples therapy can help you by providing a safe environment in which you can explore possible fears, frustrations and self-doubt.
Shrein Bahrami, MFT  |  2146 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123  |  415.595.8963
Read the complete article here.