NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Exploring and Normalizing Sexual Fantasies Without Guilt or Shame

Fantasies, including sexual fantasies, are an integral part of most people's lives--and yet many people feel shame and guilt about their sexual fantasies.  In an earlier article, I began a discussion on this topic (see my article: Are You Too Ashamed to Talk to Your Spouse About Your Sexual Fantasies?).  I'm continuing this discussion with a deeper look into the unconscious nature of fantasies.

Exploring Sexual Fantasies Without Shame or Guilt

The Unconscious Logic of Sexual Fantasies
Most people feel too ashamed to talk about their sexual fantasies--even with their therapists.  They might be in therapy for years before they even bring up the topic.  

Even in couples therapy, where a couple is having problems with sex, they are often reluctant to talk about fantasies.  Therefore, as a couples therapist, my job is to help couples with sexual problems to overcome their reluctance to talk to each other and to me.

In his book, Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, Michael J. Bader, DMH, explores the unconscious logic related to sexual fantasies and how these fantasies are often the "psychological antidote" to fantasizers' fears, guilt and shame.  

A Sexual Fantasy to Counteract Feeling Unattractive
There are many clinical case examples from his psychotherapy private practice in Dr. Bader's book about all kinds of fantasies.  

As an example, Dr. Bader cites the case of Esther, who began to feel depressed and ashamed of her body after the birth of her third child.  Other people's assurances, including her husband's, that she was an attractive woman had no impact on Esther.  If anything, these assurances only made her feel ashamed of the shame she felt about her body.  

One day Esther revealed a sexual fantasy she used during masturbation while she was in a therapy session with Dr. Bader.  

In her fantasy, there were two men who found her very sexually desirable and they were both having sex with her.  She had a very sexy body and she and the men were all able to enjoy sex.  

Their sexual encounter took place during Mardi Gras while other people surrounding them were having fun and deriving vicarious sexual gratification by watching Esther with these men.  

As a result, by using her imagination, Esther's fantasy counteracted her conscious feelings of being unattractive and bolstered her self esteem.  When Esther realized that her sexual fantasy served to counteract feeling unattractive, she no longer felt ashamed and guilty about the fantasy.  She was able to enjoy her fantasy without the burden of guilt or shame.

In each case that Dr. Baden presents in his book, he and his clients develop an understanding of the underlying psychological dynamics related to the fantasies without pathologizing them.  

When clients understand that sexual fantasies are normal and common and they are rooted in their psychological history, they often feel relieved.  This, in turn, allows them to work through longstanding negative thoughts and feelings about their fantasies.

Sexual Fantasies as a Normal Expression of Desires
By paying attention to fantasies, people can come to terms with their deepest desires.

Whether a fantasy is enacted or not, fantasies help people to learn about their longings, which helps to reduce their shame and guilt.

In addition, when couples learn to take the risk of sharing their sexual fantasies with each other, they often increase their emotional intimacy and enrich their sex life.  They can also undo years of shame and guilt as they learn to be more open and live more fully.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you have been unable to resolve your problems on your own, you could benefit from working with an experienced psychotherapist who can help you to overcome the obstacles that keep you from living a fulfilling life.

Taking the first step by contacting a therapist is often the hardest, but it can also be the step that leads to your emotional transformation.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.