NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Reviving Your Sex Life By Exploring Your Peak Erotic Experiences - Part 1

In his book, The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment, Dr. Jack Morin says that if you want to explore your most enjoyable turn-ons, you can think back on your most pleasurable and compelling sexual experiences (see my article: What is Good Sex? and Understanding Your Sex Script).

Reviving Your Sex Life By Exploring Your Peak Erotic Experiences 

What Are Peak Experiences?
Peak experiences can occur in any part of your life--not just your sex life.  They can include (but are not limited to):
  • Transcendent moments of joy
  • A sense of wonder, awe or ecstasy
  • A highly valued experience due to its intensity, depth of feeling or a sense of profound significance
  • A religious or spiritual experience
Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Dr. Morin's concept of sexual peak experiences was influenced by Dr. Abraham Maslow who focused on the "psychology of health" in the 1960s to counterbalance the negativity in psychology at that time.

Dr. Maslow was interested in many different types of peak experiences, including the experience of being enraptured by beautiful music, artwork, nature, dance, and athletics, among other things.  

During those moments of rapture and ecstasy, you are fully in the moment, and many people describe those moments as being life changing.

Dr. Maslow developed his theory of self actualization with a pyramid of the Hierarchy of Needs, which included five needs from lowest to highest:
  • Physiological Needs: The needs that keep you alive, including food, air, water, sleep
  • Safety Needs: The need to feel secure, stable and unafraid
  • Love and Belongingness Needs: The need to belong socially by developing relationships with friends and family
  • Esteem Needs: The need to feel self esteem based on achievements and abilities and recognition and respect from others
  • Self Actualization Needs: The need to pursue and fulfill your unique potential
According to Dr. Maslow, almost everyone has peak experiences but "self actualizers" have these experiences more often.  

What Characteristics Do Self Actualizers Have That Allow Them to Have More Peak Experiences?
Dr. Maslow posited that self actualizers have certain unique characteristics that enable them to have peak experiences, including:
  • A Sense of Independence With Their Own Perspective: They're usually autonomous and they don't necessarily conform to what others believe.  They're open to new experiences, even if others are not, and they develop their own perspective.  Their sense of independence allows them to live in the moment and appreciate what's around them.
  • An Enjoyment of Solitude and Privacy: Although they enjoy the company of others, self actualizers value their solitude and privacy.  Solitude and privacy is essential to self discovery and developing their individual potential.
  • A Sense of Spontaneity and Openness: Although they can go along with social norms when necessary, they also tend to be open, spontaneous and unconventional. They don't feel confined by rigid social norms.
  • A Sense of Humor: They're able to see the humor in situations, which helps them to get through tough times.  They can laugh at themselves, but they don't use humor to ridicule others.
Elements of Peak Sexual Experiences
Dr. Morin recommends that you consider those peak moments of high sexual arousal to understand the crucial elements of those experiences and how these elements came together to make a peak sexual experience, including:
  • Your partner
  • The setting
  • A particular twist or surprise in your sexual interaction
According to Dr. Morin, those peak experiences reveal a lot about how your personal eroticism works.

Focusing on Your Peak Sexual Experiences as a Window Into Your Erotic Mind
Dr. Morin provides clinical examples in his book of how his clients learned about what turned them on by focusing on peak erotic experiences (see my article: Sexual Wellness: Overcoming Sexual Boredom in Long Term Relationships).

Rather than focusing on their problems, they focused on memories of what sexual experiences turned them on.  They were able to overcome sexual problems by understanding and using these experiences to enhance their sex life.

My Next Article: I'll continue to explore these issues in my next article with a clinical vignette (see my next article: Reviving Your Sex Life By Exploring Peak Erotic Experiences - Part 2).

Getting Help in Therapy
There can be many reasons why an individual's or couple's sex life can wane.  

Once medical issues have been ruled out, working with a skilled psychotherapist can be helpful to overcoming the obstacles to a more fulfilling sex life.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health practitioner.

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