August 1976

Sexual Excitement

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1976;33(8):899-909. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1976.01770080017001

• Sexual excitement depends on a scenario the person to be aroused has been writing since childhood. The story is an adventure, an autobiography disguised as fiction, in which the hero/heroine hides crucial intrapsychic conflicts, mysteries, screen memories of actual traumatic events and the resolution of these elements into a happy ending, best celebrated by orgasm. The function of the fantasy is to take these painful experiences and convert them to pleasure—triumph. In order to sharpen excitement—the vibration between the fear of original traumas repeating and the hope of a pleasurable conclusion this time— one introduces into the story elements of risk (approximations of the trauma) meant to prevent boredom and safety factors (subliminal signals to the storyteller that the risks are not truly dangerous). Sexual fantasy can be studied by means of a person's daydreams (including those chosen in magazines, books, plays, television, movies, and outright pornography), masturbatory behavior, object choice, foreplay, techniques of intercourse, or postcoital behavior.