female legs in pantyhose and shoes on high heelsWouldn’t we all like a way to interpret our sexual fantasies?  Where do they come from? What do they mean?  Often sexual fantasies seem to take hold for no apparent reason. Their meaning seems like some kind of mysterious code that we could crack, as we do in dream interpretation.

If you ask someone to describe their most compelling sexual fantasies, especially a sex addict, you will find that there is a central core, a rather specific set pattern as to where their imagination takes them.

Addictive fantasies are laid down early in development

For many people and for most sex addicts a specific thing, activity or imagined scenario becomes connected to sexual arousal.  For sex addicts this can be a rather specific scenario that is played out in the sexual acting out behavior, in pornographic imagery or in masturbatory fantasies.

Intense early experiences  can become “sexualized,” meaning they can come to be associated with sexual excitation.  Often these are experiences of frightening events or scenarios as fear (and other strong emotions) seem to be connected to sexual arousal in most humans.

Early experience can be particularly intense when it is part of how we relate to a caregiver.   Often  it involves the things we needed to do in order get love and/or avoid abandonment.  If allowing ourselves to be threatened or punished in some way was necessary to maintain a bond with a caregiver then being threatened or punished can take on a sexual meaning as we develop sexually.  Whether sexuality is connected to abusing someone or to being ourselves abused, the scenario is the same.  We are just playing different roles in it.

This then forms what sex addiction professionals call an “arousal template.”  Arousal templates are surprisingly persistent since they usually represent a kind of conditioned response.  But sex addicts can “escalate” in their addictive behavior not only in terms of greater frequency of acting out and greater risk taking, but also in the extremity of the sexual scenarios themselves.  A sex addict who seeks out people to dominate or be dominated by can over time seek out ways of relating that are more exploitive or harmful.

Sexual fantasies may exist to solve a problem

Some sexual fantasies can be deciphered in terms of how they function to overcome sexual inhibition.  Sometimes fantasies or sexual rituals of being overpowered or dominated my serve the function of overcoming learned prohibitions surrounding sexual arousal.  In this case the person is creating the feeling that they are not responsible for their sexual response and are therefore free of guilt and inhibitions that would otherwise keep them from responding.

Sometimes sexual fantasies are attached to feelings of powerlessness and frustration.  In these cases the sexual scenario can be a way to express anger and resentment.  The boy with a seductive mother may grow up with feelings of shame and rage associated with his sexuality and his sexual arousal template may involve ways to express that rage.

Straight men who act out sexually with other men are often puzzling until you realize that the man may actually be straight but may have had early experiences that established a sexual response to males, and which he keeps feeling the urge to repeat, even though he has no interest in relating to gay men.

The origin of sexual fantasies may be buried

Why is it so hard to decipher the specific fantasy content?  Sometimes it is obvious as when the person’s addictive behavior has to do with voyeurism and their childhood experience was one involving being allowed to covertly observe sexual activity in some way.

Other times the early formative experiences are forgotten or were never seen for what they were.  Sometimes powerful experiences took place prior to the child learning to talk, in which case there is no way they can be remembered in words.  Being violated early in life may not be remembered in words but may be experienced as a specific sexual fantasy in adulthood.  The physical feeling of sexual arousal and other intense feelings may be connected on a level of “body memory” to an experience that cannot be verbalized.

Food for thought

Obviously there are a great many different kinds of addictive sexual fantasies and it would take a whole book to catalogue even the major themes and to describe the possible precursors.  Those who engage in the academic study of pornography are in a positions to look at the larger social context of sexual fantasies, and those of us who work with the individual psyche are positioned to decode their personal, individual meanings.  Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 2 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

Trackbacks

No trackbacks yet to this post.






    Last reviewed: 10 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2013). What Do Addictive Sexual Fantasies Mean?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2013/06/what-do-addictive-sexual-fantasies-mean/

 




Check Out Linda Hatch's books,
Relationships in Recovery & Living with a Sex Addict.


Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • John Derry: Thank you for this comprehensive yet concise overview of an important topic often misunderstood and...
  • sick of being cheated on: What are the real reasons that someone looks at porn sights? Is this a sex addiction or is...
  • ajperico: The article that was written and was shared was totally awesome. Most of the things written is happening in...
  • Linda Hatch, PhD: Dahlia- sounds like you need to be clear on what you will tolerate and what you won’t. Either...
  • Dahlia: I just don’t see how any of these sa get better. My husband has been in recovery, sa meetings therapy...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!