Human Connections, and Sex

Tim Jackins
International Reference Person 
for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities

The RC Communities continue to work to understand all of the areas of our lives that have been influenced by distress. Some of these—such as sex, gender, and human connection—have gotten very tangled with each other. Attempts to further our thinking in these areas are far from easy, are always restimulating, and require disciplined work against our distresses in order to be effective. 

This article is the next step in moving our work forward in the areas of sex, gender, and human connection. The work is still difficult, is still restimulating, and still requires disciplined efforts against our distresses in order to be effective. As always with our work, this is not “the final word.” Rather it is a description of our current thinking on these issues.

OUR PICTURE OF HUMAN CONNECTION

From our years of work in RC, we have developed a consistent picture of what we think the natural connection between human beings is likely to be. Our simplest phrase has been that love is the way two humans naturally feel about each other. This is any two humans.

It appears that all newborn children arrive expecting that someone similar to themselves will be there waiting to interact with them in an aware, intelligent, and thoughtful manner. Each of us, apparently, arrives with our own intelligence intact and functioning, and with the full expectation that there will be another intelligence to interact with.

OUR LACK OF CONNECTION

Because of the lack of information about newborn humans, we almost always arrived without the waiting adults realizing the existence of our intelligence. Because of the conditions in the lives of our parents and the other adults around them, because of the distresses they had suffered and not been able to discharge, and, in particular, because of the oppressive nature of the society they existed in, we arrived at birth and didn’t find another intelligence that could stay aware of us. Because we were very much physically helpless at our birth, we needed another intelligent human who had more information, who had developed to be more physically able, and who would be able to think about us, tend to our needs, and, especially, support us to discharge any distresses we acquired. This did not happen. Instead, separation and unawareness often dominated our early days. As the separation, the lack of awareness, the distresses aimed at us, and the lack of support for discharge built up in our early years, we lost our hopefulness about being closely connected to another human intelligence.

Our initial expectation of being connected to another intelligence like our own continued to be disappointed as we grew, developed physically, and learned about the world. It appears that at some point in each of our lives, the distresses that built up around the lack of connection become heavy enough that we develop chronic distress patterns that lead us off to live lives of mental isolation. In the grip of these patterns, we stop attempting to communicate much of our thinking and we cease hoping for much awareness from others. This is sometimes seen as sad, as the end of childhood, but it is also seen as normal, as nothing being wrong, as something unavoidable.

SOCIETY'S SUGGESTION THAT SEX WILL BE OUR LAST CHANCE

If we’d had someone who could have been aware of us from the beginning, our lives would have been vastly different. We would have continued to see real connection with another human as being possible and would not have given up on having such a connection. If we had also been fortunate enough to be in the care of someone who allowed us to continue discharging our distresses, we would have stayed hopeful and pursued connection with other people, learning a great deal about relationships as we did that and discharging in the places where we had difficulty.

If this had happened for us, then we would have had more than a decade of learning about and developing relationships before we developed sexually. If, in addition, we had grown up with access to information, then at the point of sexual maturity we would have been able to think about sex, and about what we wanted to know and try and who we wanted to try things with. I think we would have found sex interesting, but I doubt we would have had the frozen fascinations about it that so many of us have.

Unfortunately, it was quite different for all of us. At the point in our lives when we developed sexually, we had been struggling for years with our connection to other people and having great difficulty forming good relationships. We had also been targeted for many years by other people’s sexual distresses, including sexual abuse, and since we were denied access to the discharge process, we had acquired many distresses about sex—many fears and aversions, many frozen needs[1], longings, and fascinations, and many places where we could not think well about sex.

It is in the context of having been pushed by distresses from our families and our societies into feeling very separate and distinct from other humans that society presents sex as our last possibility for human connection (especially if we are boys—girls are often allowed more contact with each other and so are not so vulnerable to this manipulation). When we reach the point of our sexual development, almost all of us feel very distant from other people, and given this possibility of being close to someone, almost all of us run as fast as we can to see if there’s some chance of real human connection there. We have had so many sexual distresses pushed on us, however, that few of us are able to make good connections with each other at this point. Additionally, our distresses related to having real contact with other humans have gotten quite tangled with our distresses about sex, and most of us, especially if we are men, are unable to imagine a close, caring, intimate relationship with anyone unless it is a sexual relationship.

WE ARE SEXUAL

Human beings are sexual creatures. Sexual reproduction was an important evolutionary step, and it was passed to us along our branch of evolution. Sex is a natural part of being human, and like every other part it is good. Sex is an instinctual part of being human, and like other instincts it is under the command of intelligence, which evolved much later. Sex could be and will be a good, interesting, and enjoyable part of being human and being with other humans, if we can discharge the distresses that interfere with this happening.

Unless we discharge these distresses and get them out of our way, they will continually interfere with our being close to each other as well as with our being able to be sexual with each other awarely. Often when we are sexually close, even with the individual we are closest and most committed to, our minds do not stay in the present with the person we are with. Rather, we get restimulated to the point that we are pulled into some frozen images from our distresses. When this happens, we are denied the real sexual closeness we are seeking.

MEN

Because of the particular way that men are treated in society, from childhood, they tend to end up with big patterns of isolation and great feelings of aloneness, which leave them both desperate for and hopeless about contact with other people and which become tangled with distresses connected to sex. Society has long targeted men’s sexual distresses in order to manipulate and confuse men. (Society has recently begun to aim at women in a similar way.) One of the effects of having sexual distresses, and not having the chance to discharge them, is feeling embarrassed about and ashamed of the frozen longings and patterned compulsions while still feeling desperate and driven by the frozen longings for sex, which masquerades as the only possibility for human contact. Being trapped in compulsive sexual behaviors, and then being criticized for them, often leaves us secretive and defensive.

WOMEN

Women are targeted with sexism from their first days of life. Many women are sexually abused early in their lives, and this, of course, has a large effect on their distress patterns in the areas of sex and closeness. At the same time, girls are usually allowed much more closeness and contact, at least with each other, than boys are, enabling them to retain some idea of closeness in ways that boys seldom are able to. Because of this, women’s distresses about closeness and sex can be far less tangled together and sex is less often seen as the sole possibility for closeness. Instead, women are more likely to have hurts from being forced into sexual activities as a requirement for closeness.

IDENTITIES

Whether going along with society’s distresses about sex or rebelling against them, almost all of us end up with some sexual identity, based on our distresses about human connection and sex and our hurts from oppression.

In RC we have come to realize just how wonderfully unique every individual is and how wonderfully unique each relationship between any two people can be. Undischarged distresses, as we well know, can keep us acting rigidly, not showing our full, flexible, unique intelligence. As distresses build up in our minds, we begin to think of ourselves in terms of the group of people that has been targeted by distress in a way similar to what happened to us. We think of ourselves as women, as working class, as African heritage, and so on, as if these identities were the definition of ourselves. While all these groups are constituencies to be proud of, and each has contributed greatly to human knowledge and culture, simply and permanently taking on[2] one of these identities can involve accepting a perspective that has been shaped by the distresses that have been aimed at the constituency and can result in a limited picture of ourselves.

In RC we have developed a three-step process to work on identity, to counsel and discharge, that allows us to know and be proud of people like ourselves without becoming limited by the distresses that are connected with the identification. The steps are (1) to proudly claim the identification and have sessions on being proud of the group, on every way in which we associate ourselves with it, and on the feelings brought up by claiming the identity, (2) to discharge on the difficulties we have with the identity and any ways the group is restimulating to us, and (3) to discard the attachment to the identity, and every way we associate ourselves with it and limit ourselves by it, and continue to grow in our own unique way, while not losing the knowledge and abilities we gained from claiming the identity and from our relationships with the people in the group.

SEXUAL IDENTITIES

We have all been pushed by society to take on a sexual identity. Most of us have ended up identifying as heterosexuals. Some of us have identified as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or another identity not promoted by society. No matter which identity we have taken on, we have not escaped distresses about sex or about connection with others. All of our sexual identities include many distresses about sex, which confuse us and make it difficult for us to think about sexual closeness without being overrun by feelings of desperate longing or fear. Indeed, it is difficult to say how thoughtfully and with how much awareness we are able to choose any one of the sexual identities, given the weight of distress about sex that has been piled upon us.

Taking on an identity other than heterosexual can allow one to question the limitations and confusions surrounding closeness and caring that are part of a heterosexual identity. Rejecting those limitations can allow one to develop caring and connection that are considered “out of bounds” by society. This can be very important and very human. Communities based on non-heterosexual identities have given their members a place removed from society’s disapproval and attacks in which human connection can be pursued. We would all have opportunities to develop more caring and connection with anyone we chose were it not for the distresses surrounding connection and sex that are currently part of society.

These distresses are one of the bases of the oppression of anyone who does not identify as heterosexual. People not identified as heterosexual face an oppression that has been brutal, destructive, and deadly. It is also sometimes denied, subtle, and hidden. Because we all carry societal distresses about closeness and sex, we have great difficulty thinking well about this oppression. Some of us blindly and overtly act out the oppressor role of the distress that has been installed on us. Some of us try to hide the effects of the distress on us but still have our thinking distorted by it and act covertly on that basis. Some of us attempt to stop the effects of the distress on our thinking by simply deciding to accept everything that we have difficulty thinking about, thereby adopting a liberal position. We cannot achieve an intelligent and effective-in-practice position without discharging fully on the distresses we all carry in this area.

No one should ever be oppressed for his or her sexual identity. Such oppression needs to be opposed by all people, no matter what their own sexual identity happens to be. Opposition to this oppression is in each of our self-interests, since, while it is aimed at particular groups, it is used to suppress and manipulate everyone. It is in each of our interests to actively oppose this oppression now, and to counsel on the sexual identifications and confusions caused by our distresses so that we can think more clearly and act more effectively against it. This is the work that we in the RC Communities have committed ourselves to do.

WORK FOR EVERYONE

Working on sexual distresses is useful to all of us. Our perspectives and choices are distorted by these distresses. Because they are so pervasive and so constantly restimulated, each of us needs to question everything we think about sex, everything we believe we know about sex, and everything we feel about sex, no matter who we are. If we want to be free of distress about sex, or anything else, we need to question and use the discharge process on everything, without making anything out of bounds. We get to question and discharge on the things we have always believed, the things we long for most, and the things we feel desperately dependent on. Any distressed pieces of these things will discharge, giving us better lives.

IMPORTANT WORK

Counseling and discharging on all of our distresses connected with sex is important for several reasons. It is important for regaining clarity about this aspect of our lives and for our general liberation from distress. It is important for our steadily becoming better counselors for each other on sexual distresses, including for those of us who are targeted by society’s oppression in this area. Because these distresses come from hurts that happened so early in our lives, they are connected to many areas of our lives and discharging on them brings broad gains in awareness, often in areas that have seemed unrelated.

Additionally, as society has more and more difficulty maintaining itself and its irrational economic system, ever increasing numbers of attempts are being made to restimulate nearly everyone in the population. An ever-growing number of these are aimed at restimulating people about sex. The efforts continue to grow more numerous, more desperate, and more explicit. Capitalism tries ever harder to sell an ever larger collection of products by connecting them with sexual restimulation. Advertisements using sex blatantly enough to have caused legal action only a few years ago are now accepted in the mass media. One result of this, of course, is the continued objectification of women and the furthering of sexism and confusions about sexism’s existence. There is also increasing objectification of children and young men.

This constant hailstorm of sexual restimulation affects all of us and restimulates our sexual distresses many, many times each day. Sexual distresses are not worse than or basically any different from other distresses, but the constant barrage of their restimulation, and our lack of opportunity to discharge them, have their effect. The number of attempts to restimulate us in this area is unlikely to decrease in the near future. Those who have been targeted by society because of a sexual identity have moved first in counseling on their distresses connected with sex. We all need to develop ways to begin consistently discharging on all of these distresses.

WORKING ON SEXUAL DISTRESSES

Early Sexual Memories

Many of us in RC have been able to counsel effectively on distresses connected with sex and significantly lessen their pull on our perspectives and behavior. We have had more difficulty finding ways to counsel effectively on them in an ongoing manner. This has been true because our sexual hurts are often early and heavy; because our Co-Counselors also have sexual distresses, which make it difficult for us to have enough resource in our sessions; and because of the continual efforts being made in society to restimulate everyone in the area of sex. All these things make it much more difficult for us to be thoughtful, aware, and effective counselors for each other.

The part of our work in this area that has been by far the most continually effective has been discharging on early sexual memories. People continue to take important steps in their liberation from distress by doing this work. Much of it has been done in classes and workshops. In this work, the client is encouraged to find each early memory that is connected in any way at all with sex. Even if the connection is not initially known, the fact that a memory appears in response to the counselor asking about early sexual memories is enough to decide to pursue that memory in order to find and discharge any distress connected to it.

This work is important, empowering, and useful and will continue and grow with good effect. Please get and read the RC pamphlets A Rational Theory of Sexuality, by Harvey Jackins, and Counseling on Early Sexual Memories, by Joan Karp.

Present-day Restimulations

Because of the way our sexual material[3] is being continually targeted, it is also useful for us to have opportunities to work on recent restimulations of it. Most of us, however, have distress recordings of embarrassment, shame, and secrecy connected with both sexuality and our distresses about sex, making it difficult for us to consider working in this area in a Co-Counseling session. The fact that all of our Co-Counselors appear to have very similar distresses makes it even more difficult.

These are only distresses and they can be completely discharged, but finding the aware attention we need to fully use the discharge process can be a real challenge. The most reliable and useful opportunities have occurred in small groups of experienced Co-Counselors who know each other well. Having one good Co-Counselor with us in a session has often not provided enough resource or clarity for us to work on this material. For most of us, our distresses in this area are such that we need attention from more than one person to reliably be able to discharge them.

Almost all of us have many heavy distresses connected with sex, and ongoing discharge on the early hurts will make these distresses more easily accessible to discharge.In addition to our pursuing that, I am also now proposing that experienced Co-Counselors consider counseling on the often-restimulated fascinations, inhibitions, repulsions, and frozen longings and that they do this not with a single Co-Counselor but with at least two (and preferably three) other Co-Counselors of the same gender. (As we discharge more in this area and gain more judgment and perspective, we may be able to use more flexibility in choosing our Co-Counselors, but that is for later.) As always, we wish to be (and to find) Co-Counselors who can be thoughtful and aware.

In these sessions it is important that everyone both realize and let others know that we all have many distresses connected with sex. It is not just us, nor is it just someone else. No one growing up in societies like ours can escape being hurt in this area. We each have our own collection of feelings (including numbness) due to our distresses connected with sex. In these sessions, I want each of us to end our secrecy about the way our sexual material plays out[4] in our minds and how it gets restimulated. I want each of us to communicate this to the others. (Like in all of our sessions, we are committed to confidentiality.) It has been useful for the first sessions of these groups to consist of turns of ten to twelve minutes.

Possible things to begin talking about include

1. Having a body, our body parts, what our body does,

2. The five things we are most fascinated with related to sex and bodies,

3. The things we would like to try sexually,

4. The things we don’t want to try sexually,

5. The things we hope nobody will ever ask us to do sexually.

Each of us knows that many of these things are connected with our distresses, but we have not been able to discharge on them and free ourselves from their pull. Some of them we may not yet be able to recognize as coming from distress. As we are able to discharge, our thoughts and perspectives will change. Only with enough discharge will we be able to think clearly enough to decide what we want our lives to be like in the areas of sex and closeness.

WE CAN CLARIFY OUR THINKING

As we discharge our distresses connected with sex, our thinking will change and develop, our minds will become less frozen in distressed fascination or less fearfully repelled, and what we wish for ourselves in connection with sex and closeness will change. Each of us gets to see how our own mind changes, and each of us gets to make up our own mind about what we will do sexually.

Changes have shown up in people who have worked steadily to clean up this area of their lives. People whose distresses have kept them scared of and repelled by sex have become interested in but not fascinated by sex. People who have been urgently fascinated by sexual things have lost their fascinations. Gradually sex has become a topic that occupies minds much less than it did before, with some interest in sex seeming to persist but an interest in having sex with someone of the same gender tending to disappear. Longings for a sexual partner to look exactly a particular way or be a model of a particular sexual stereotype have been discharged, as has any compulsion to have sex with many people, leaving people able to think about and awarely choose what they want in sexual closeness. People have become more thoughtful about what makes sense for themselves and their sexual partners and have shown a developing ability to think about and be connected with their partners more fully during sexual activities.

This has been our experience, so far. It is important that the information we’ve gained from our work in this area, as in all areas, be known, but this information is not meant to replace anyone’s own counseling and thinking. It is most useful when it is accepted as a challenge to free ourselves from distress so that we can each clarify our own thinking and understanding in this area, as in all areas of reality.

No one is required to accept our experience, and each of us, as always, can make our own decisions, whether or not we disagree. But, as with everything we work on in RC, it doesn’t make sense to ignore the information we acquire but rather to use it to guide and challenge ourselves to see what distresses we have in these areas. It is useful to assume, in each of our sessions, that “almost everything that any one of us has assumed to be rational or inherent in the area of our sexuality is recorded distress patterns” (Harvey Jackins, A Rational Theory of Sexuality, page 2, and The Benign Reality, page186). Similarly, any feeling that one of us has that something is wrong with our individual sexual biology needs to be viewed as possibly coming from distress.

Everything we have discovered through our work will be developed further and will be questioned, just as we should question everything in order to think fully about it. But the real and useful challenges do not come from our opinions. Rather they come from the experience of counseling and discharging that allows each of us to think more clearly.

CLAIMING OUR CONNECTION

We are all involved in an important effort to remove the effects of distress from our lives and from the lives of every human. As we do this, we are reclaiming our full intelligence and claiming our connection with each other. Discharging any distress that confuses us about each other or about what we want with each other is an important part of this process.


[1] Frozen need is a term used in RC for a hurt that results when a rational need is not met in childhood. The hurt compels a person to keep trying to fill the need in the present, but the frozen need cannot be filled; it can only be discharged.
[2] In this context, taking on means adopting.
[3] In this context, taking on means adopting.
[4] Plays out means expresses itself.


Last modified: 2017-09-06 08:15:06-07