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Presentation on theme: "Professor Glenn Wilson, Gresham College, London WHATEVER TURNS YOU ON THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEXUAL FANTASY."— Presentation transcript:

1 Professor Glenn Wilson, Gresham College, London WHATEVER TURNS YOU ON THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SEXUAL FANTASY

2 SEX = FRICTION + FANTASY Both physical and mental stimulation is necessary for arousal/satisfaction. One is fairly standard, the other highly individual – based on aspirations and memories, pooled and refined during development.

3 FANTASIES ARE PRIMAL Fantasies may exceed reality in excitement. Because they are unconstrained by social taboos and partner reservations, they are closer to biological instincts than actual behaviour or public attitudes. They are tailor-made to precise specification. All parties co-operate fully and wear ideal clothing (or lack of it).

4 MEASUREMENT OF FANTASIES Wilson’s Sex Fantasy Questionnaire (SFQ) is based on factor analysis of popular themes culled from research, clinical studies and magazine articles. Frequency responses are solicited for each theme, ranging from “never” (0) to “regularly”(5) relating to each of five conditions: Daytime fantasies Fantasies during intercourse/masturbation Dreams while asleep Have done in reality Would like to do in reality

5 TYPES OF FANTASY Factor analysis yielded four main categories of sexual fantasy: 1. Exploratory (e.g., participating in an orgy, being promiscuous, mate swapping). 2. Intimate (e.g., kissing passionately, intercourse with a loved partner, making love out of doors). 3. Impersonal (e.g., using objects for stimulation, being excited by items of clothing, watching others have sex). 4. Sadomasochistic (e.g., whipping or spanking someone, being tied up, being forced to do something).

6 SFQ SCORES FOR MEN AND WOMEN Men report more fantasies of all categories (esp. Impersonal and Exploratory) (Wilson & Lang, 1981)

7 TESTOSTERONE AND FANTASY Men have about twice as many sexual fantasies overall as women. This is because sex drive relates to testosterone. Testosterone supplements increase libido and fantasies in women and anti- androgens decrease them in men.

8 FAVOURITE THEMES Men are inclined to fantasise about young, anonymous, multiple partners. Women prefer sex with identified (often famous) individuals. Men’s fantasies feature anatomical details; women focus more on emotional context and romantic surroundings. These differences fit with evolutionary expectations based on parental investment theory.

9 ACTIVE VS PASSIVE Many SFQ items appear in matched actor and recipient forms (e.g., “whipping”/ “being whipped”; “giving oral sex”/ “receiving oral sex”). This enables active vs passive scores to be computed separately. Men and women reported similar levels of passive fantasy, but men had twice as many active fantasies. (Wilson & Lang, 1981)

10 FANTASIES AND FRUSTRATION Freud (1908) reckoned that “a happy person never fantasies, only a dissatisfied one”. This deficiency theory applies more to men than women. Men fantasise more when frustrated; women when sexually active. (Wilson & Lang, 1981)

11 FANTASY SHARING A minority share their fantasies with their partner (26% men, 32% women). Depends on the content of the fantasy and whether the partner appears in them, or someone else. Most claim they would not feel jealous if partner admitted fantasising about another person (but still probably risky).

12 THEMES IN FREE NARRATIVE FANTASIES Men Women Group sex 31% 15% Voyeuristic/fetishistic 18% 7% Steady partner included 14% 21% Romantic setting 4% 15 % Rape/force 4% 13% No fantasies 5% 12% (Wilson, 1987)

13 FEMALE RAPE FANTASIES Rape/force is one of the most popular female fantasies. Reported by 50% of women; top- ranked by 13% Does not mean women subconsciously want to be raped - more that they want to feel irresistibly attractive. Important that rapist is attractive to them (e.g. Valentino’s Sheikh, Christopher Lee’s Dracula)

14 CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE Some researchers find that force fantasies are more common in women who were sexually abused in childhood. Effects may depend on whether it was experienced as arousing or distressing at the time (c.f., A Dangerous Method). Overall, force fantasies in women are associated with higher sexual satisfaction, hence not necessarily unhealthy.

15 MALE MASOCHISM Submission fantasies are surprisingly common among men, especially those who occupy powerful positions in daily life (c.f., Max Mosley). These may derive from experiences of motherly discipline in early childhood that have become imprinted in connection with first sexual stirrings.

16 SFQ SCORES OF VARIANT MEN (Wilson, 1988)) Paraphilic men score higher than controls on all categories (esp. Impersonal and Sadomasochistic)

17 THE VARIANCE QUOTIENT Since two of the SFQ categories are “paraphilic”, a Variance Quotient was devised as follows: VQ = (Impersonal + Sadomasochistic)/(Intimate + Exploratory). Used in research locating brain regions mediating sexual excitement in normal and paraphilic men (mainly right parietal for normal men; left frontal for paraphilic men). Paraphilic men are similar to gay men in neurodevelopmental indices such as 2D:4D finger ratios and number of older brothers.

18 WHEN ARE FANTASIES DANGEROUS? Paraphilic fantasies are so common in healthy men that risk levels are low. Most remain in fantasy or are played out in co- operative games. Criminal sadists often show escalating fantasy and behavioural rehearsals prior to serious offences but target unwilling victims from the outset.

19 CHILD SEX OFFENDERS SFQ has been used in risk assessment with sex offenders. Child molesters show low VQs compared with controls. Under reporting of deviant fantasies because of parole implications? Impersonal and S/M scores predict recidivism in child molesters but only pre-treatment. After treatment the correlation disappears: i.e., the more deviant fantasies appear “cured” the more likely the individual is to reoffend. Erectile responses to child vs adult images are a useful adjunct to self- reported fantasies, but also subject to faking.

20 RAPISTS Rapists are not easily distinguishable from normal men by erectile responses to rape scenes. Only a small proportion are excited by resistance of victim – most would prefer consent. Problem is failure to recognise, or be deterred by, cues of refusal. Some have distorted beliefs about female sexuality. Others are psychopaths who simply don’t care. Erectile responses to images supplied by researchers don’t tell us what offenders spontaneously think about, nor do they prove that their fantasies are instrumental in precipitating their crimes.

21 OTHER FACTORS Fantasies are not a necessary or sufficient cause of child molestation, rape or sadistic murder. Fantasy often a recollection of crime rather than a prompt. Most men don’t cross the line from deviant fantasy to reality. Other risk factors need to be considered: 1. Obsessional, escalating nature of fantasy. 2. Dysfunctional family history. 3. Personality, e.g., psychopathy. 4. Attitudes, e.g., hostility toward women. 5. Feelings of impotence, isolation, inadequacy.

22 FANTASIES IN COURT Research on fantasy is not just prurient or frivolous. It can have important applications. Examples: 1. Two men planning to abduct, rape and murder young children claimed their discussions were just fantasy. This found to be false. 2. Man claiming he accidentally strangled a woman during consensual breath-play exposed as having murderous, necrophilic fantasies. 3. Man accused of murder because his fantasies “fitted” the crime was acquitted (after a year in prison) when fantasies were shown to be widespread and “shaped” by an undercover police officer. Another man was later convicted on DNA evidence.

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