Mrs Salisbury Column, Sunday Star Times

Due to new contracting arrangements, Mrs Salisbury Columns will normally be available at least three months after after publication.

Sunday April 17th 2016

Q. It's embarrassing to raise this question but how do I change what turns me on? When I was younger I was involved in some things that were not good but they were very erotic. Now when I go to have sex or even if I'm trying not to, these scenarios play in my head. They're the only ways I can have an orgasm but I'm left afterwards feeling like I have sinned in my mind. I feel dirty and bad. I want to feel good about my sexuality and be able to enjoy sex so is it possible to change my arousal fantasies?

A. It is indeed possible to at least generate some other options for yourself that will broaden your erotic template. This will allow you to experience arousal to different stimuli so you can put in place some turn-ons that you feel good about. It's not clear from your letter what age you were during those early sexual experiences, whether they were imposed on you or if you felt able to make an informed choice. If they were abusive then do contact an ACC sexual abuse counsellor to get professional help to heal from that as part of reclaiming your sexuality. Be clear that bodies do respond during abuse even when sexual activity is unwanted. Your mention of sinning sounds like a reference to your religious beliefs. I wonder if you could raise this matter with someone compassionate and accepting within your church or if you've perhaps already received negative messages about sexual thoughts and feelings.

Erotic fantasies are to a large extent conditioned- a learned response. Achieving a period of not reinforcing your old fantasy by not having an orgasm with it on your mind will make space for one or all of three options: substituting a new fantasy that is acceptable to you (visualise a split screen with the old fantasy playing on one side and the new one on the other, switch between the two until you are confident you can be in charge), try immediately before orgasm and then gradually earlier, learning to focus on the sensations and energy in your body or learning to achieve a deep connection with your partner where you are exchanging sexual energy. This can be complex to achieve by yourself so do consider seeing a sex therapist to guide you in making such changes.

Robyn Salisbury is a registered clinical psychologist specialising in sex therapy.  


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Robyn is also the author of the very popular book, "Staying in Love" which can also be purchased on this website.  

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