This podcast features an excerpt from
The Pleasure Zone : why we resist good feelings & how to let go and be happy
Stella Resnick, Ph.D. is a psychologist focusing on the relationship between pleasure and health.
The Pleasure Zone distills 25 years worth of scientific research to reveal the stunning truth about pleasure: it is vital to our health!
In this episode, Chris explores pleasure anxiety. Stella explains:
“Among the many concerns that people typically have about their sexuality – whether it’s about a lack of sexual interest, performance fears, inability to have orgasms… almost all of it can be traced to pleasure anxiety. It can be found in their patterns of thought, which keep them stuck in their head or defended in their heart. But most specifically, pleasure-anxiety translates into a fundamental, largely unconscious, fear of being overwhelmed by sexual excitement.
Unfortunately, we all have some sexual inhibition by virtue of having been raised in a society where sex is considered “dirty.” However, most of the time we may not be in touch with our pleasure barriers because, generally, we don’t go anywhere near the intensity of pleasure that would test our limits. Instead, whenever there is any possibility of intense sexual arousal, we may automatically hold sexual feelings down with a physical reflex that grips the muscles of the torso and pelvis, holding in the ribs and shortening the breath. In effect, we allow ourselves only the degree of excitement we know we can tolerate.”
Chris reflects on her experiences with pleasure anxiety as a sex educator:
Locating and overcoming pleasure anxiety is essential if you want a more pleasurable, fulfilling sex life. For many people, understanding pleasure anxiety is an aha! moment that helps them understand why their sexual experiences have often felt limited or hijacked by unseen forces.
I came across this concept first when I was teaching Sexological Bodywork at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexality. Teaching these workshops meant spending hundreds of hours leading 10-25 people at a time in erotic practices. This is an amazing opportunity to see bodies respond to pleasure, and I learned a thing or two about pleasure anxiety.
Here is what I know for sure: the human body is capable of high states of erotic ecstasy. Indeed, we are designed for it.
Everything that stands in between us and this state of total abandon to erotic pleasure is cultural baggage and damage from our sexually violent culture.
When we do the work to confront all this clutter, we slowly expand our sphere of pleasure capacity. Every time we bump up against the edge of our tolerance we discover that yet more is possible if we are brave enough to allow it.
I have not met anyone who has reached a state of total erotic freedom, we are all still dealing with our own inhibitions. But I have watched as hundreds of men and women actively expanded their pleasure capacity, and it is a beautiful and humbling process to witness.
Here is a little blessing to free us from pleasure anxiety:
Where there is tension, we create relaxation.
Where there is fear, we find excitement.
Where there is judgement, we welcome acceptance.
Where there is numbness, we awaken to pleasure. ~ Chris Maxwell Rose
Everything we offer at Pleasure Mechanics is designed to expand your capacity from pleasure. From the sexual techniques to the relationship advice, all of our tools can be used to break out of pleasure anxiety and into the boundless realm of ecstatic experience. And we are here to guide you every step of the way.
So I’m curious, what is your experience of pleasure anxiety? Have you ever been really enjoying sex and then hit a wall and started closing down? Or found yourself numbing out or getting totally distracted instead of focusing on the pleasure you were experiencing?
I’d love to hear your story, use the contact page to be in touch!