Sunday, June 21, 2015

Intimacy Based Therapy- David Schnarch

Normal Couple Development
Sex is a natural physical function and is inherently non-pathological. However, intimate sex is an acquired ability and developed taste.

Sexual Normalcy- Quantum Model
Total sexual stimulation= physical stimuli + psychological processes.
o Total sexual stimulation is the amount of stimulations as it relates to the threshold required for a sexual response.
Physical stimulation is the amount of external sexual stimulation received in the form of tactile input and ability to process and transmit it.
Psychological Processes are the emotional and cognitive processes, including: sensate focus ability, sensory meaning, and anxiety impact.
Threshold is the amount of stimulation required to elicit response.

Sexual “normalcy” is a construct of the couple, created through repetition of sexual contact. It is affected by Sexual Myths such as:
All physical contact must lead to sex.
All men (especially “real” men) always want sex, must be in charge, and must have an erection to do so.
Performance and size are all that counts.
Sex should always come naturally to everyone.

The two-edged sword of normalcy: on one side, no pathology or dysfunction exist, but on the other, an acceptance of much less than potential is considered “normal.” This model values work in therapy to remove the restraint of what the individuals have accepted as normal and help them reach new, higher levels of sexual intensity. It suggests that couples differentiate from their sense of normalcy and move beyond it (e.g. spiritual or tantric sex).

“Wall socket sex”- Sex that is so electrifying that the individual transcends “normal” reality and enters an alternate sexual reality.

Intimate Normalcy- The Intimacy Continuum
Intimacy is a relative experience. Intimacy need and intimacy tolerance determine satisfying intimate experiences for the individual.
o Need- degree of desire required to engage and disclose core aspects of self to partner
o Tolerance- ability to maintain comfortable and clearly defined identity during disclosure of core aspects of self or partner.
To develop along the continuum, the individual must develop tolerance by:
o Developing the ability to control dependency
o Being guided by the individual’s own perception of reality but accepting that it is subjective.
o Internalizing their self worth
o Self soothing.
Unconditional love- myth of intimate relationships. Truth is:
o We both love and hate our partners.
o We love despite inevitable hatred.
Work in therapy focuses on acknowledging hatred and accepting that hatred does not mean there can no longer be love.