Psychological Self-Help

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and every life is unique. As mentioned previously, the family of origin
may have had a negative attitude towards sexual body parts or acts,
e.g. "sex is crude--something women have to put up with" or "it's a sin
to touch down there" or "we don't talk about these parts" (out of 1400
parents interviewed by Elizabeth Roberts none had ever discussed the
clitoris with a daughter). Unreasonable guilt and embarrassment may
stay with us forever. Conflicts with a parent or parents getting a
divorce may result in anger and distrust towards the opposite sex or in
confusion about sexual identity. Early sexual experiences may have
been traumatic--painful, forced, or guilt-producing (see abuse in
chapters 7 and 9). Early experiences can also become an obsession,
e.g. being attracted to a certain type of person or activity, such as
being tickled or spanked. Many fears interfere with "letting go" and
enjoying sex: fear of failing to perform, pregnancy, disease, being
used, being swept away (Cassell, 1984), making noise, losing control,
urinating, looking ugly or absurd, being caught, and so on. These fears
have to be unlearned or reduced. 
The quality of sex usually depends on how positive the two people
feel about each other. You might say, "I can imagine having great sex
with a total stranger." That's true. But it becomes much more complex
when the relationship is intimate. Examples: If one is in love, able to
talk freely, feels secure and trusting, enjoys the lover as a friend and a
sex partner, then sex is greatly enriched. If we are angry, distrustful,
having a disagreement, feeling critical of the partner's appearance, or
losing interest in the partner, our involvement in sex is reduced,
perhaps to zero. This is especially true if one partner becomes
hypercritical of the other: "You are a lousy lover," "You're getting so
fat it's disgusting," "You can't get into sex because you are emotionally
hung up on your dad" or "You are so uninterested, I think you are
gay." Obviously, sex in these cases probably won't improve until the
relationship improves.  
Difficulty communicating about sex
Bach and Deutsch (1970) illustrate the deception that occurs early
in a relationship, using "Will" and "Carol." These two people have had
a couple of dates, like each other, and are trying hard to please and
impress the other. After a fun day at the beach and a romantic dinner,
Will asks Carol to stay over night at his place. She agrees. But after a
long drive home, both are very tired, have sun burns, and need to go
to work early in the morning. Actually, both would rather go home
tonight and set aside a special night for making love the first time.
However, they are pushed by their own needs to please, to impress,
and to deceive the other. Each assumes (without asking) the other is
horny. Each wants to give the impression that he/she is highly sexual
too. The truth is that both are concerned about their sexual adequacy. 
Since neither can say "let's wait," Will and Carol stay together and
have intercourse. They utter the right words to each other: "I love
you," "You are fantastic," "Yes, I came," "You are a real man," "You
have a great body," and so on. But during sex they were thinking:
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