Dissociating in Scene

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January 1992

by William A. Henkin, Ph.D.

Copyright © 1992 by William A. Henkin

<Q> I often fantasize about playing various roles while I'm having sex with my partner. It's like playing different parts in a movie, and I find it very exciting. Sometimes, though, my mind seems to go beyond fantasy. Once in a while when I'm outrageously excited I seem to lose my sense of self and can't be sure whether I am the man or the woman, my partner or myself. It's as if I'm fucking and being fucked, giving and receiving at the same time. I love this incredible, exhilarating experience, but what does it mean?

<A> In terms of Western psychology you're experiencing a kind of dissociation many people feel from time to time in extremely intense circumstances. It sounds as if you encourage this state in sexual situations through your fantasies, and then lose your sense of self as you seem to merge with your partner.

As long as you have a good sense of self to begin with, and can control the times and places in which you dissociate and the ways you regain your boundaries, the experience can be fun, as you observe, and should cause no problems. Someone else doing the same thing might abruptly feel lost or disoriented in an unpleasant way, however, and for that person the experience could turn frightening. If that ever happens to you, open your eyes, stop fantasizing, take a few slow, deep breaths, and pay attention to the here and now you're in: to the sensations of fucking, to your body, to your partner's body. If you continue to feel frightened stop and tell your partner what's going on and ask him or her to hold you for a few minutes. The dissociation should pass. If you dissociate other ways, at other times, and you do not feel you are in control of your shifting mental landscape, you may be stirring up some buried memories you would do well to explore with a therapist experienced with such issues.

What you describe also has a clear SM parallel in the sense of "flying" some people experience when they are whipped for a long and loving time. It also has a parallel in many shamanic traditions where magicians seek to leave their bodies in order to visit the spirit realms in the course of specific rituals. And the sort of merging you enjoy is a highly-valued goal in some tantric disciplines. If you've just been merging by accident, you might want to investigate some of the erotic spiritual workshops offered by devoted practitioners in the Bay Area, such as Lana Clark or Fakir Musafar: it sounds as if you're a natural.

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