The Sessions – a movie about sexual courage

April 21, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Helen Hunt was nominated for an Academy award for her role as a sexual surrogate in this film. She was paid for her part in helping a profoundly disabled man have a sexual experience.In 6 sessions she was to guide him into the sexual acts of his choice. This role represents an outdated method in sex therapy. I have never referred someone to a sexual surrogate.And none of my colleagues have either.

However, I thought the movie portrayed both the ambivalence of sexual wanting and the satisfaction of it very well. Mark, a polio victim since the age of 6 years was confined to an iron lung at night and a gurney during the day. He wanted to have a sexual experience and spoke to his priest about it. The priest after consulting with his conscience agreed that it was a good idea. And Mark went forward with his plans.

His anxiety about receiving help was mapped out very well when he was screaming to be taken home on route to his first appointment. He was frightened likely and loosing his nerve. His hope of having help was being overcome by his dread of having help. An all too common event for us humans.

In sexual matters all of us are vulnerable. It takes great courage to go forward and ask for help in this area of life. People struggle for many years before they surrender to coming to an appointment. Some marriages have not been consummated ever, some have been asexual for decades. Both partners are suffering from self esteem issues and worry about whether IT still works or will ever work again. This drives some folks to an affair.

Overcoming sexual and sensual problems that have been going on for longer than 6 months generally requires professional help. Sex is who we are at our most exalted or most humiliated. Changing the outdated beliefs, habits, ways of thinking and behaving when you do not even know you’ve got them takes careful attention from an informed therapist.

Attuning to one’s own body and then one’s partner is a mark of maturity and presence. May we all aspire for this kind of mastery.

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