This piece is written by Professor Franz Ruppert, and originated in response to a discussion on the IoPT Facebook page. Thank you Franz for your contribution.
To call one’s sexuality ‘hetero’, ‘homo’, ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘trans’, ‘queer’ etc. does not say anything about the quality of one’s sexuality, how I act my sexuality out – alone or with a partner.
Also naming it ‘normal’, ‘natural’ or ‘colourful’ is often more an attempt to justify it for public opinion than to look at it in more depth.
What matters in my thinking are the following questions:
- whether we practice our sexuality from our healthy identity, or
- whether our sexuality is traumatised, or
- whether we are traumatising others with our sexuality, and
- whether our sexual trauma forces us to develop trauma-surviving strategies and attitudes of being a victim or a perpetrator.
Healthy sexuality is possible provided we have our healthy ‘I’ available, act out of our own free will, stay in a good contact with our perceptions and emotions, have realistic thoughts, have a good sense of our body, and do something that is joyful for us and our partner(s).
Being sexually traumatized, very often because of our trauma biography, means being overwhelmed by emotions like anxiety, disgust, pain, shame or guilt and turning the body into a collapsed or frozen state. Sexual trauma means our body is made into an object by another person, we are physically and psychologically hurt, and we cannot stop it and defend ourselves.
Trauma surviving strategies from the victim’s side
- making oneself emotionally numb,
- attempting to leave the body psychically,
- identifying with the perceptions and needs of the perpetrator,
- feeling disgust, shame and guilt,
- blaming oneself and feeling worthless,
- denying that traumatic things happened to oneself,
- suppressing memories of trauma.
From the perpetrator’s side we know surviving attitudes such as:
- “It is your duty, and my right, to have sex.”
- “It is a pleasure for you and not harmful.”
- “I love this child and the child loves me.”
- “You offered yourself and seduced me.”
- “Even if you say ‘no’, deep down you actually mean ‘yes’.”
- “I have paid you money for it.”
Sexuality acted out as a trauma surviving strategy:
- often involves alcohol and drugs,
- is meant as a compensation for loneliness,
- is based on illusions of love (“The perpetrator is the only person that loves me and cares for me.”),
- beliefs in myths about sexuality (e.g. “virginity”),
- provides only a short time relief,
- the sexual act needs to be repeated obsessively,
- the person does not care if the body is wounded or infected by viruses, bacteria or fungi,
- the person does not care, if the sexual act leads to a unwanted pregnancy.
Therefore, if we are really interested in the quality of our sexuality, we can explore it with the Intention Method and we may find out how to live our sexuality consciously in a healthy way.
As psychotrauma is so wide spread in all societies, so the trauma of sexuality is also common. A consequence of sexual trauma is to repeat it again and again without realising it. We may feel good, even with the sexual re-traumatisation because we do not know what it is to live a healthy sexuality. Prostitution is seen as normal in a traumatised society. In such societies, it is also not easy to find partners who deal with their sexuality in a healthy manner.
In traumatised societies sexuality is used as a weapon for competition, to devalue others and make oneself seen as the only one that is ‘good’ and even ‘perfect’.
Or the strategy is to hide within a traumatised collective that seems ‘normal’, where others not in the collective can be blamed and discriminated against.
For political purposes, people who do not fit the so-called ‘normal’ sexual standard in many countries are branded as ‘evil’, and made into scapegoats on whom many fantasies can be projected, in order to stir up hatred and justify violence.
I hope we all who like to work with IoPT do not put extra fuel on the wide-spread fires of perpetrator-victim dynamics in our society, that are acted out consciously and unconsciously.
Franz Ruppert, 04.04.2018