NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, May 29, 2022

What Are Emotional Aphrodisiacs?

My last several articles have focused on concepts from Dr. Jack Morin's book,  The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment.  

See my previous articles: 

Emotional Aphrodisiacs

The Historical Search For Aphrodisiacs
Named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, aphrodisiacs are often thought of as foods or substances used to enhance sexual desire. 

Historically, the quest for aphrodisiacs has led seekers to explore the far corners of the world in search of the magical substance or "love potion" that will enhance sexual desire.  

In recent times, scientists have been interested in the biochemistry of love and attraction.  

Although the perfect sex-enhancing substance remains elusive, sex researchers have discovered that emotions can be powerful sexual energizers, which is the focus of this article.

Emotions Associated With Peak Erotic Experiences
According to Dr. Morin, sex therapist and researcher, whereas The Four Cornerstones of Eroticism are the building blocks of eroticism, emotions are the sexual energizers or sexual intensifiers of eroticism because they can have a powerful impact on sexual arousal and fulfillment. 

Let's see why:

Based on his research, Dr. Morin identifies the following emotions as the ones most associated with peak erotic experiences (see my article: Discovering Your Peak Sexual Experiences):
  • Exuberance including joy, celebration, surprise, freedom, euphoria and pride
  • Satisfaction including contentment, happiness, relaxation and security
  • Closeness including love, tenderness, affection, connection, unity (oneness) and appreciation
  • Anxiety including fear, vulnerability, weakness, worry and nervousness
  • Guilt including remorse, naughtiness, dirtiness, and shame
  • Anger including hostility, contempt, hatred, resentment and revenge

Exuberance and Satisfaction As Response Emotions
Exuberance and satisfaction are emotions that are commonly thought of as being very important to peak erotic experiences.  

However, according to Dr. Morin's research, these emotions aren't emotional aphrodisiacs because they don't produce or intensify sexual arousal.  

Exuberance and satisfaction are response emotions because, instead being the cause of sexual arousal, they are the rewards of arousal.

Emotional Aphrodisiacs:  Closeness, Anxiety, Guilt and Anger
When most people think of emotions associated with peak sexual experiences, they usually think of ideal emotions such as love, tenderness, closeness and affection.  

They don't usually think of the so-called "negative" emotions like anxiety, guilt and anger (in reality, emotions are not positive or negative but people often think of them in that way).

Anxiety, guilt and anger are usually thought of as being the opposite of emotional aphrodisiacs because they are associated with disrupting sexual enjoyment.  

But under certain circumstances these emotions can enhance sexual pleasure.

When anxiety, anger and guilt act as sexual enhancers, they are considered paradoxical emotions.

What Are Paradoxical Emotions?
Paradoxical means that something is seemingly contradictory.  

The word "seemingly" is important in the context of our discussion about paradoxical emotions because these emotions often have the opposite effect to what is normally expected.

As previously mentioned, contrary to popular opinion, emotions are neither positive nor negative. 

In addition, emotions are also often fluid because they can transform into each other.

Erotically speaking, anger, guilt and anxiety are considered paradoxical emotions because these emotions can have an unexpected aphrodisiac effect.

For instance, anger's unexpected aphrodisiac effect can be seen in the heat of the moment when a couple is having an argument and the stress hormone, cortisol, spikes.  

When cortisol spikes during an argument, people often yearn for the closeness that sex provides.  

This is one of the reasons why "make up sex" can be so hot after an argument.

Since the topic of emotional aphrodisiacs is complex, I'll discuss this further in my upcoming articles:

Getting Help in Therapy
Everyone needs help at some point.

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

Working through unresolved problems can lead to happier, more fulfilling life.

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

I work with individual adults and couples, and I am a sex positive therapist (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

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.