Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

A Foregone Orgone

But Frank was not the only person to consult Felicity about a lack of sexual desire. A couple of years later, an absolutely beautiful woman with a statuesque figure consulted Felicity about a problem similar to Frank’s. Frances was a very effective and efficient professional woman in her mid-thirties. She was married, and she professed an exquisite love for her husband. However, she was ‘frigid’. She felt a great sense of remorse that she was unable to respond with any kind or degree of arousal to any stimulation or contact with her husband, other than the warmth of love which she felt for him. She wanted desperately to find a way to increase her responsiveness in order to add to his pleasure, joy and happiness. But nothing worked to evoke in her any erotic sensations. She thought of herself as a chiselled statue. The task she seemed to be giving Felicity was to breathe life into her alabaster body. He didn’t know how to perform such a task by means of any know form of psychotherapy.

The first guidance he could find as he thought about how to accomplish this task came from Reich [see, for example, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Selected Writings: An Introduction to Orgonomy.   RR]. Strange images of laminated coffin-like devices ran through his mind, coupled with vague ideas that Reich may have died in an ‘insane asylum’. Since he was sure that he would not try to use any of Reich’s ideas about how to enhance Frances’ ‘orgone’ (Reich’s notion of the energy of libido), Felicity tried to push that kaleidoscope of pictures out of his head. Psychoanalysis, aimed at releasing any ‘repression’ of libidinous impulses, had already received more than a fair trial with Frances. The use of electrical stimulation to reinstate sensation in small patches of insensitive skin (skin anaesthesia) had been reported in the literature. This method seemed utterly inappropriate in this case. He considered hypnosis, but recalled that its use might increase the risk of suicide in an appetitive problem such as this one.

Of course, he forgot about at least one option which might have worked. He might have tried a procedure he called CARRA which will be described in Chapter 12 in talking about Susan and Shirley. However, he still doubts that he would have taken the chance of using it with Frances without access to the control of round the clock monitoring in a hospital.

Having recently been called upon to assess another bright professional woman complaining of anorgasmia (inability to have a sexual climax), but without any real pathology, Felicity was cautious and detailed in his inquiry with Frances. The other lady had said that she was unable to achieve any discharge during sexual contacts. The psychological tests had revealed no sexual conflicts at all. So Felicity had undertaken a thorough inquiry. He was informed that this woman regularly became aroused during sexual contact, experienced a peak of arousal and then achieved a sense of relief — but there was no discharge. It turned out that she had expected to have an ejaculation equivalent to that of the male. When she was offered simple information about the respective sexual events in the two genders, she was satisfied with the information and required no further psychotherapy.

But this was not Frances’ problem. She understood the sexual functions of the two genders. But she experienced no sensation at all from stimulation of her erogenous zones, which was in any way different from that of rubbing any other area of her body. In those days, the idea of sexual abuse of children by adults was rarely considered as an issue, let alone a fad used to account for every psychological problem. Felicity did not even think of that possible explanation for Frances’ lack of erotic arousal. In those days, the Freudian view of infantile sexual fantasies was the main window through which psychotherapists looked at early sexual arousal or conflicts. And Frances had already been psychoanalysed for a great many years, without benefit or understanding. By this point in her life, all she wanted was results — she wanted to be able to become aroused by her husband’s sexual advances.

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