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Paul, R.A. (2000). Normative Sexuality in Contemporary Evolutionary Perspective. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 171-177.

Paul, R.A. (2000). Normative Sexuality in Contemporary Evolutionary Perspective. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 171-177

Normative Sexuality in Contemporary Evolutionary Perspective Book Information Previous Up Next

Robert A. Paul, Ph.D.

Like most of the people I know, I have changed my views about what constitutes the range of normal sexual behaviour. I share a general tolerance for a diverse array of possible choices for adults, and hold the view that — sexual happiness being both as important and as difficult to achieve as it is — people should be allowed, indeed expected and encouraged, to find it in whatever way suits them, as long as it does not bring harm to or interfere with the lives of others. My views on these matters have evolved relatively unselfconsciously, moving, as I look back on it, with the tide of widespread social and cultural developments. These developments include the challenge to accepted conventionality in the 1960s, and the feminist, gay rights, and other movements that have significantly recast the way we think and feel now compared to how we once did.

Given these changes, I can obviously no longer accept at face value, as I may once have done without thinking about it much, the position of the classical psychoanalytic libido theory, according to which only mutual orgasm achieved in heterosexual genital intercourse with a loved and appropriate partner is “normal”, while other kinds of solutions to “the sexual problem” (as they used to put it) are not so much morally problematic as pathogenic or pathologic, liable to lead to neurosis, and/or to be symptoms of unhealthy psychodynamics. I have myself terminated what I consider to have been successful analyses in which the patients left analysis with their fondness for oral sex, or voyeurism (consuming “adult” entertainment), or masturbation intact, if better understood and modified. I certainly don't see it as my job to get these people to give up what they enjoy and to act as an enforcer of sexual “normalcy”.

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