Trauma, Masturbation & Dark Sexual Fantasies: Real Help For Those Who Struggle

I love tackling awkward topics, and nothing makes us feel more awkward than the “m” word. While companies who manufacture sex toys are all about encouraging you to “pleasure yourself” whenever you feel like it, the fun is quickly ruined when your mind goes to a dark place the moment you become sexually aroused. In this post, I’m going to explain some important psychological principles that can really help those of you who are feeling like immoral yucks in the masturbation department. With the world’s top religions condemning masturbation as a loathsome activity, there are a whole lot of folks being plagued with shame on this issue–especially because they can’t stop thinking about sex.

Right, so let’s get into it. The first thing you need to understand is that your subconscious is the part of you shapes your sexual fantasies. Your subconscious doesn’t give a darn about pleasing God or moral codes, and there is nothing you can do to make it start caring about these things. It is your soul and only your soul that cares about morality. All of that internal torment you’re experiencing over sex is actually a result of these two elements of your being arguing with each other. Your subconscious really wants to dwell on those nasty images that keep flooding into your mind. Your soul feels morally repulsed by those images and wants them to go away. Your subconscious and your soul are the two alpha elements of your being, with your body and conscious getting caught in the middle of their arguments (see The Supremacy of The Subconscious & The Soul). And by the way, this whole set up was God’s intentional design, so it’s not like He’s blaming you for how your elements operate.

Now because religions do not respect or even acknowledge all of the elements of your being, they often demand that you somehow get your soul (the moral part of you) to run the entire show. This is what your soul is trying to do when it rails against your subconscious for producing foul fantasies. A lot of that negative self-talk you’re doing is coming from your soul, as it tries to shame your subconscious into shutting up and stopping its production of perverse fantasies (a lot of that shaming talk is also coming from demons, who are trying to increase the tension between your soul and subconscious, but I won’t get into that here).

Now be honest: how successful is your soul at stifling your subconscious? All of that nagging, shaming, and scolding isn’t very effective, is it? You can tell that your subconscious isn’t giving in because those disturbing fantasies keep playing in your mind like a movie that you can’t turn off. Here is where you need to ask a question that religions never teach you to ask: what specific problem is your subconscious trying to solve by dwell on those images?

Maybe you’ve been told that the reason your mind goes to dark places is because all humans are “sinful” or “fallen” or “inherently evil.” Or maybe you’ve been taught that such thoughts come from evil spirits or demons. While our souls are quick to buy into theories like this, such explanations are total rubbish. Sexual desires are shaped by your subconscious, and your subconscious always has logical reasons for what it does.

The same religions that condemn masturbation tend to promote compassion, and compassion is going to be a key element in reducing your misery about sex. As long as your soul is responding to your subconscious’ desires with a hostile, condemning stance, you will be intensely miserable. The more miserable you are, the harder your subconscious will push to get its needs met, and if you’ve got a head full of perverse sexual fantasies that keep playing on a loop, that’s a clear indication that your subconscious is feeling an intense need for sexual release. Fighting it on this issue will only make it shout louder. Working with your mind instead of attacking it is the most efficient way to calm the internal strife.

Now the classic fear among people who feel bad about the content of their sexual fantasies is that those fantasies will only grow worse if they are given any attention. Here’s where some strategy is needed. The wrong approach to perverse sexual fantasies can indeed make them grow even darker. Sexual appetites are very changeable things. This is because your subconscious shapes your sexual appetites based on its own interpretation of your life experiences. If you add the wrong kinds of life experiences to the mix, your subconscious will shift your sexual appetites in a darker direction. If you add the right kind of experiences, your subconscious will actually shift your appetites in a more positive direction.

Now the principle I just explained is not understood by most therapists, and this is why you’ll find so many sex therapists encouraging their clients to “spice things up” in the bedroom by getting out the whips and chains. It’s also very common for such therapists to encourage their clients to engage in role-playing in which they pretend to be a naughty prostitute and a lusty client, or a prisoner being tortured in a dungeon. The next time you hear a sex therapist or some other sex “expert” say that there’s no harm in engaging in some naughty role play, you need to realize that that person has no idea what they are talking about. It is completely idiotic to tell people to encourage their minds to link sex with themes of humiliation, violence, and degradation. It is also very dangerous.

Your subconscious is constantly revising its views and reactions based on your life experiences. When you take the advice of some foolish therapist and start playing dark sex games with your partner, there is a very good chance that the two of you will lose your ability to enjoy healthy sex. Soon an activity that is designed to strengthen your bond with your intimate partner is damaging that bond. Sex matters. A lot. The sex drive is an enormously powerful drive in human beings, so be wary of people who tell you that there’s no harm in “experimenting.” There is plenty of room for mixing things up in the bedroom, but it is vital that you use a proper approach in doing so. To put it simply, you need to be very careful about the attitudes and emotions that you are encouraging. Things like coercion, humiliation, pain, restraints, and derogatory comments should never be allowed in the midst of sexual activities. I’m well aware that some of you are already up to your neck in these things, but for those of you who aren’t, don’t let someone with no clue about how the human mind works talk you into experimenting in those ways. It’s very hard to get back to a positive place with sex once you train your mind out of it. It can be done, but why put yourself through all of that if you can avoid it?

Now for those of you have never been able to let your mind dwell on sex without a lot of perverse imagery surfacing, you are in a different situation than the folks who are able to enjoy positive sex and are intentionally introducing negative elements into it. When your mind has been kinky about sex right from the beginning (and for many, such thoughts begin long before puberty), then we’re dealing with a case of trauma.

There are many kinds of trauma and they don’t all impact your sex drive. But when trauma does affect your sex drive, you will typically notice two main effects:

  • An abnormal frequency in how much you want sex (either significantly less or significantly more than what would be typical for your age and gender).
  • An inability to become sexually aroused unless you dwell on very disturbing images that simultaneously entice and distress you.

First, let’s talk about frequency. Once your mind links your traumatic experience to sex (and this is an automatic process which you have no control over), it then carries over all of its unresolved feelings about the trauma into the arena of sex. What causes an experience to become traumatic is when your mind draws conclusions about that experience which it finds unbearable to live with. For example, some guy molests you when you’re a kid. Two very common conclusions that molestation victims form are “I am not safe in this world,” and “It’s guaranteed that I am going to be assaulted like that again in the future.” Your subconscious finds these conclusions unbearable–meaning it can’t find a way to relax in the face of them. And yet because of the way your subconscious is interpreting what happened to you, it can’t see any logical basis for rejecting those conclusions. In other words, the evidence for them feels overwhelmingly strong, and your subconscious is very logical. It will not revise its beliefs until it can be logically persuaded to do so. The purpose of counseling is supposed to be gently helping stressed out minds and souls revise their scary beliefs so that they can calm down.

Now where there is stress, minds obsess. Here is another very helpful principle to understand, because this is the reason why you have such a hard time getting your subconscious to stop with the dark fantasies once it starts playing them. Traumatized minds are in a constant state of distress, with some of their resources being spent continually mulling over the traumatic experiences.

Imagine trying to work in a room that has a ginormous, hairy insect sitting on one of the walls. Even if you turn your back to the thing and try to focus on your laptop screen, part of your mind is going to be thinking about that freakish looking insect, isn’t it? As you try to type out an email, you’ll also be thinking, “Is it moving towards me? What is that thing? Is it poisonous? Where on earth did it come from? Does it fly? How can I kill it?” Once you ask all of these questions, will that be the end of it? Will you be able to just close that topic and mentally move on? Not hardly. As long as the thing is still in the room with you, you will keep asking the same questions over and over again.

To your subconscious, traumatic life experiences are like that creepy insect. And just as you mentally obsessed over that insect, your subconscious constantly obsesses over traumatic events, asking things like, “Why did that happen to me? What does it mean? Should I have reacted differently? Did I cause that to happen? Am I to blame? How can I move on? What if it happens again? How could I defend myself?” These questions and more get asked over and over and over again by your stressed out mind. Anytime you come across something today that reminds your subconscious of what happened to you in the past–perhaps a sound, a color, a location, a person, or a word–those questions get asked more loudly and frantically. Once your mind links your traumatic experience to your sex drive, not only do those questions get louder, but you also find yourself feeling sexually aroused in the presence of any trauma triggers.

In the kind of situation I’m talking about, the most bizarre, non-sexual things can trigger a strong arousal in you. What kinds of triggers your subconscious forms will be intimately linked to what the original trauma was. Suppose your father molested you in a tool shed. In such a situation, it would be completely logical for you to find yourself as an adult getting suddenly turned on by the sight of hammers and nails. While such behavior seems nonsensical at first, remember that your mind is extremely logical. In this scenario, your subconscious sees tools and instantly connects those images with elements in its traumatic memory files. It then starts to panic that you are in danger, and that causes it to fly into battle preparation mode. This triggers yet another intensive review of what happened to you with dad in the tool shed, with the goal being to pinpoint some flaw in your original defenses that can be quickly fixed so that you can better handle a new attack.

Now if you want to analyze something, what do you do? You focus on it, right? The same is true if you want to solve a problem. When your finger itches, you lift your finger up close to your face and scrutinize it. If something is poking your foot inside of your shoe, then you take your shoe off and examine both your foot and the inside of your shoe. The point is that you engage with whatever it is that is upsetting you: this is the normal human method for problem solving. And this is exactly what your subconscious is doing when it starts producing sexual fantasies that center around the theme of molestation. The reason it’s fixating on molestation is because that was what originally happened to you in that tool shed. The sight of hammers and nails in a hardware store caused your mind to fly back to that awful moment from your past. Now that it’s all upset, it’s reacting in a practical way by trying to closely analyze what happened to you. It feels the most efficient way to do this is to create fantasies which allow you to symbolically relive the trauma you went through.

Your core temperament will greatly influence what kinds of fantasies your subconscious produces (see Freezing vs. Fighting: Two Strategic Responses to Assault). Passives respond to threats by pulling in, so a passive man who was victimized by dad might find himself wanting to dwell on images where he is once again being molested, only this time the goal will be to try to endure the experience with greater stamina and less emotional fallout. Is it really possible to be unaffected by someone molesting you? No, it’s not, but traumatized passive minds will often reach for that star when reviewing sexual traumas.

Aggressives respond to threats by lashing out, so an aggressive man who was victimized by dad might find his mind producing images in which the man is molesting someone else. It is very common for aggressive minds to try to reverse roles in trauma reenactments to try to symbolically take back the power that they feel was ripped away from them in the past.

What I want you to be learning from all of this is that the images your subconscious starts manufacturing whenever you become aroused are directly linked to real life experiences that you’ve been through. These fantasies are not indications that you were born as some “sicko” (although it’s easy to feel this way when you’ve never been able to think of sex positively). I also want you to understand what a logical and automatic process this is. As soon as it has its traumatic memories triggered, your subconscious flies into action, and there’s not a darn thing you can do to stop it. Rather than start attacking it (which is the usual soul response), you need to start appreciating what it is doing. It is trying to help you. It is also reacting out of fear that you are in grave danger. What’s the best way to help a human who is afraid? Yelling at him? Shaming him? Beating on him? Won’t all of these responses only make him more afraid? If you want to help your subconscious calm down, you need to respond to it with validation and compassion. You would also be wise to let it play out its fantasies. And here is where we get into masturbation.

The more severely you’ve been traumatized, the greater your mind’s need will be to symbolically reenact your original traumatic experience. Damage control is an important element here. Ideally, we want to help you manage your psychological stress in ways that do not involve you harming yourself or others. But once your mind starts rerouting its trauma angst through your sex drive, your need for sexual arousal can be overwhelmingly strong, and if you don’t do something to vent off some of that pressure, you can end up becoming so desperate that you end up harming yourself or others. Trauma driven sexual fantasies are very dark things because trauma by nature is dark and often associated with fear, pain, and degradation.

Now suppose your mind is reacting to your past trauma by cranking out sexual fantasies in which you are molesting kids. Here is where you have choices. Your soul can freak out and condemn your mind (which is a common response), and you can then use all of your available resources to try to block out those fantasies. In these cases, it is usually impossible to experience sexual arousal without also thinking of kids, so if you really want to keep those fantasies blocked out, you’ll have to deny yourself any kind of sexual release. This is a reasonable plan, right? Wrong. When you take this approach, it’s like you’re corking a volcano. The thing that stops volcanoes from erupting and spewing lava all over people is when they have unobstructed steam vents which allow them to keep relieving pressure as it builds up. Eruptions happen when the volcano gets so blocked up and so overwhelmed with internal pressure that it simply blasts apart. In the same way, you are going to find your internal stress load escalating to unbearable levels if you don’t do something to relieve some of that psychological stress.

Now clearly you don’t want to actually assault real kids or anyone else. Your soul finds that a horrific idea, which is why it is freaking out about those fantasies. It’s very important that you respect your soul’s moral code, or you’ll have a whole new set of problems. So here is where you need to come up with a compromise: a way to respect your soul and help your mind without doing damage to yourself or others.

Once your soul learns to see your mind’s dark fantasies for what they actually are– evidence of unresolved stress, not evidence that you’re a scumbag–then your soul can find it much easier to take a compassionate approach to your mind. Your mind wants to cycle your body through a round of sexual release while it dwells on fantasies that are a symbolic rehash of your own past. Your mind feels that it is critical for it to perform this analytical review of your past. If you allow your mind to run its analysis while masturbating in a way that does not harm your body, you will usually find that your mind will rapidly calm down afterwards. If instead you block your mind from doing this, you run the risk of pushing yourself to the point where mere fantasies aren’t enough.

Because pedophiles do not understand their own mind mechanics and are not taught how to respond to their stress in positive ways, many of them end up trying to use the “cork the volcano” approach until their minds reach the point of explosion. Those explosions often result in hands on assault attempts, many of which could have been avoided if the pedophile had allowed his mind to run through its fantasy cycles.

Now earlier I said that folks who have positive views of sex can retrain their minds to develop negative views simply by rehearsing dark themes. So if this is true (which it is), how can it be a good idea for you to intentionally dwell on the dark fantasies your mind is producing? Won’t focusing on darkness only intensify that darkness? Not if you introduce an element of self-compassion.

Consider the difference between these two scenarios. In the first scenario, you intentionally do things that annoy your wife because you find it hilarious to see her get more and more worked up and you are curious to see how far you can push her before she completely snaps. In the second scenario, you encourage your wife to verbally vent about what’s upsetting her because you love her and want to comfort her, and you suspect she is in desperate need of validation. In both cases, we have a wife who is freaking out while you stand there, but in the first scenario, your intentions are to worsen things while in the second scenario you are trying to help.

In cases of trauma, when your soul encourages your subconscious to vent and treats its fears as valid, your subconscious will feel the same relief that your wife feels when she goes off on a tirade about how much her jerk of a boss aggravates her only to then have you give her a comforting hug.

When instead you take a mind that is not agitated by sex, and start intentionally distressing it by engaging in perverse sexual activities because you’re curious to see how far you can push your mind before it snaps, then you’re going to do real damage to yourself, just as you would do real damage to your marriage if you started intentionally bullying your wife.

The key differences here are where your mind is starting from (traumatized or calm), and what your soul’s intentions are (to help or to hassle).

Even in cases where there is no trauma involved, masturbation can still be a fabulous tool for relieving sexual tension, and this becomes especially important for men, whose biological sperm pressure gives them a legitimate need for sexual release more often than women. So for both traumatized and non-traumatized people, masturbation should be viewed as a helpful way to relieve internal tension. It doesn’t mean you have to go there, but in the kinds of trauma I’ve been discussing in this post, masturbation can actually be an extremely helpful (and sometimes critical) tool for managing psychological stress.

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