How to Think More about Sex.
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How to Think More about Sex.

Having just reread Alain de Botton’s ” How to Think More about Sex”, I thought it prudent to share some of his insights with you. He maintains that it is rare to get through this life without feeling- generally with a degree of secret agony, perhaps at the end of a relationship, or as we lie in bed frustrated next to our partner, unable to go to sleep-that we are somehow a bit odd about sex. It is an area in which most of us have a painful impression , in our heart of hearts, that we are quite unusual. In truth, however, few of us are remotely normal sexually. We are almost all haunted by guilt and neuroses, by phobias and disruptive desires, by indifference and disgust. None of us approaches sex as we are meant to, with the cheerful sporting, non-obsessive, constant, well-adjusted outlook that we torture ourselves by believing other people are endowed with. We are universally deviant- but only in relation to some highly distorted ideals of normality.

Many clients reluctantly drag the realities of their sexual life into the therapy space. It appears that most of what we are sexually remains impossible to communicate with anyone whom we would want to think well of us. The silence that surrounds our relationship with sex is often amplified by our comparison with others. Men often compare their performance, or penis size with porn stars, or with the guy who could tie his penis in a knot in matric, women similarly suffer from the virus of comparison battered into feelings of inadequacy with regards to breast or bum size, both sexes relentlessly pursue orgasm as if it were the Holy Grail. “Was that good for you?” is laced with a deep fear that we are not satisfying, not adequate, not ‘enough’ for our partners, or we feign indifference, or worse still, we don’t care.

Whatever discomfort we feel about sex is commonly aggravated by the idea that we are living in a liberated age- and ought by now to be finding sex a straightforward and untroubling matter.
The standard narrative goes something like this: for thousands of years across the globe, due to a devilish combination of religious bigotry and myopic social custom, people were afflicted by confusion and guilt around sex. They thought their hands would fall off if they masturbated. They believed they would burn in Hell if they ogled someone’s ankle. They had no clue about erections or clitorises. Our beliefs were, quite frankly, ridiculous.

Then, sometime between Freud and the launch of Sputnik, things changed for the better. Finally, people started wearing bikinis, admitted to masturbating, grew able to mention cunnilingus in social contexts, started to watch porn and became more comfortable with a topic that had been the source of needless neurotic frustration for most of human history.

Despite our best efforts, sex refuses to be tamed by our curiosity. It refuses to sit obediently on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a peculiar tendency to wreak havoc across our lives: it leads us to destroy our relationships, threatens our productivity and compels us to stay up too late in nightclubs talking to people whom we don’t particularly like, but whose exposed midriffs we nevertheless strongly wish to touch.

Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our higher commitments and values. Unsurprisingly, we appear to have no option but to repress its demands most of the time. According to Boton, “we should accept that sex is inherently rather weird instead of blaming ourselves for not responding in more normal ways to its confusing impulses”. This is not to say that we cannot take steps to grow wiser about sex. We should simply realize that we will never entirely surmount the difficulties it throws our way.
Our best hope should be for a respectful accommodation with an anarchic and restless power.

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Twelve reasons your life isn’t as crap as you think it is.
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Twelve reasons your life isn’t as crap as you think it is.

1: You paid the bills this month, and maybe even had extra to spend on non-necessities. It doesn’t matter how much you winced as the debit orders went off, the point is that they did, and you figured it out regardless

2: You question yourself. You doubt your life. You feel miserable some days. This means you’re still open to growth. This means you can be objective and self-aware. The best people go home at the end of the day and think: “or… maybe there’s another way.”

3: You have a job. For however many hours, at whatever rate, you are earning money that helps you eat something, sleep on something, wear something every day. It’s not failure if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would – you’re valuing your independence and taking responsibility for yourself.

4: You have time to do something you enjoy. Even if “what you enjoy” is sitting on the couch and ordering dinner and watching Game of Thrones.

5: You are not worried about where your next meal is coming from. There’s food in the fridge or pantry, and you have enough to actually pick and choose what you want to eat. You can eat because you enjoy it. It’s not a matter of sheer survival.

6: You have one or two truly close friends. People worry about the quantity but eventually tend to realize the number of people you can claim to be in your tribe has no bearing on how much you feel intimacy, acceptance, community, or joy. At the end of the day, all we really want are a few close people who know us (and love us) no matter what.

7: You could afford a cup of coffee, or the petrol in your car this morning. The smallest conveniences (and oftentimes, necessities) are not variables for you.

8: You’re not the same person you were a year ago. You’re learning, and evolving, and can identify the ways in which you’ve changed for better and worse.

9: You have the time and means to do things beyond the bare minimum. You’ve maybe been to a concert in the last few years, you buy books for yourself, you could take a day trip to a neighboring city if you wanted – you don’t have to work all hours of the day to stay alive.

10: You can sense what isn’t right in your life. The first and most crucial step is simply being aware. Being able to communicate to yourself: “something is not right, even though I am not yet sure what would feel better.”

11: You have a space of your own. It doesn’t even have to be a home or apartment (but that’s great if it is). All you need is a room, a corner, a desk, where you can create or rest at your discretion; where you govern who gets to be part of your own world.

12: If you could talk to your younger self, you would be able so say: “We did it, we made it out, we survived that terrible thing.”

So, come now, I’m not asking you to ‘think positive’ and “be grateful”, we all know life can be shit and often is. But as humans we have the most incredible capacity to shift our perspective and sometimes, it is the smallest recalibration to our thinking that can influence a whole sequence of events. It’s a bit like changing your reality by what you are thinking…hmmm, more on that later.

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The preferred treatment for Panic Disorders.
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The preferred treatment for Panic Disorders.

A Large study has compared the effectiveness of different types of therapies for panic disorders.

A new study has found that Cognitive behavioural therapy is the best treatment for panic disorders.

In addition, most people prefer therapy to taking anti-anxiety medication.

Dr. Barbara Milrod, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, said:

“Panic disorder is really debilitating — it causes terrible healthcare costs and interference with functioning.

We conducted this first ever large panic disorder study to compare therapy types and see if one type of therapy is preferable over another.”

Panic disorders involve suffering from an extreme feeling of anxiety and fear, sometimes for no apparent reason.

Panic attacks can also be triggered by many things, including irrational fears such as phobias.

During panic attacks people can tremble, become sweaty, feel sick and may experience heart palpitations.

The study randomised around 200 people with panic disorders to various different commonly-used therapies.

Therapy lasted for around three months and involved one 45-minute session each week.

Across the two different sites where the therapies were tested, cognitive behavioural therapy was the most effective, and only one-quarter of people dropped out.

Professor Milrod said:

“If patients stick it out and continue with therapy rather than drop out, they have a far greater chance of seeing positive results or getting better.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Mildrod et al., 2015).

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