Sexual Re-education:

Dear Dr. Brilliant;

I’ve had problems dealing with sex in relationships all my life. Although I might feel initial attraction, as soon as it seemed that sex was an “expected” part of the relationship, I would feel turned off, even start to hate the guy.

In my late thirties, after therapy, I discovered what might be the reason- I had been sexually abused as a child and had buried the memory. When the pieces started coming together, SO many things made sense to me. I had an easier time dealing with every other aspect of my life. But I have yet to get to the point where I can feel a natural, simple attraction and have sex without feeling all sorts of conflicted emotions.

My question is this- is it possible to reprogram one’s sexuality decades after the pattern was set? It seems I am hard wired in a way that all the therapy in the world can’t touch. I have a friend who was raped at age 7 by her uncle. She has many of the same difficulties I do and therapy also failed her.

How do we go on, as we are… broken?

China Doll

Dear China,

There used to be some cool reprogramming systems like sensate focus in the field of sex therapy but insurance has more or less killed anything creative in medicine.  However, sex is adult play so in order to enjoy healthy sex one needs to understand healthy play. What this means is you have to first have a good healthy relationship with someone you trust and who treats you as an equal, ie someone nice to play with. You need to actually like your partner and not be playing a role or putting on airs. You have to focus and also be able to be vulnerable and know he will not hurt you. Most often if there are sexual issues there are also self-esteem, relationship, and codependent issues. Focusing on sex without examining all these other things is just a misdirection and complete waste of time in any case.

I do not recommend role playing. Playing a role only reinforces poor self-esteem and enhances codependent bullshit in other areas of your life.

That being said, if all is copasetic there is a great training video that looks at sex in a more spiritual way:  Ancient Secrets of Sexual Ecstasy for Modern Lovers –DVD.  The tantric genre is a good place to learn sexual play and wisdom.

I also recommend getting books on and perhaps taking some lessons in massage.  Getting used to touch and enjoying touch is very healing and is the first step in desensitization and reprogramming.

But again- if the relationship isn’t solid do not bother. Why get closer to an idiot?

-Namaste and have fun,

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

The Granny Doctor says: I think that Dr. Brilliant offers good advice, but here’s the sticking point, to quote: you have to first have a good healthy relationship with someone you trust and who treats you as an equal.

Let’s not hold our breath waiting, shall we?

If I’m guessing right, the question you have here is not so much “how do I have good sex in a relationship?”, but rather, “how do I deal with the built-in buttons that are pushed every time I encounter the situation of expected sex”?

Granny thinks that you are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and every time sex is expected of you, you are catapulted back to those childhood situations where it was forced on you. Exploring your own body or learning how to play will not touch that particular problem, because it may be perfectly possible for you to have an enjoyable sexual encounter… but that will not prevent you from being traumatized when your partner “expects” to do it again. In fact, it may even make you hate them more, because the unexpected pleasure that can sometimes accompany forced sex is part of the buried trauma.

Fighting PTSD is an ongoing effort, because there is a physiological problem as well as psychological- the experiences that traumatized you so much actually produced different brain tissue than a normal experience. This is hardly a scientific explanation, but it’s like you have scar tissue implanted in your grey matter that sucks you back like a whirling vortex when the triggers are pushed. It’s like that kicking reflex in your knee. All of the old feelings come back… and if you don’t understand that that’s what they are, and not an honest reaction to NOW, you will be tricked every time.

There is only one thing that can eventually bring this under control- that is if YOU make a conscious decision to recognize the phenomena for what it is, force yourself to reassess the situation exactly as if it were a case being examine in court, and ask yourself: is my partner forcing a 4 year old to have sex against her will… or is he just a well meaning horny guy who has no idea he is traumatizing the hell out of me?

Now, back to Dr. Brilliant’s advice- if you find a partner who is willing to be part of this examination process, then you stand a chance of developing a healthy relationship and working through your problems. But don’t ever make the mistake of thinking you can have casual sex just for fun like so many others seem to do. You can’t. You never will.

Accept this, and you will get your life back. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are bravely struggling a problem some asshole foisted on you against your will.

And I’m behind you, every inch of the way.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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One Response to Sexual Re-education:

  1. Dr. Brilliant Cliché adds: For the trauma granny is talking about there is a very effective treatment – it is called EMDR. (Eye movement desensitization response) It separates the memories from the elicited associated feelings. It allows the memories to be reprocessed in the form of a story narrative vs. traumatic fragmented intrusive memory. Look to your phone book for a councilor that does it.

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