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The Most "Sexual" Type of Psychological Defense

  • Published:
    03 March 2023
  • Updated:
    08 November 2023

Sexualization and eroticization are defense mechanisms involving sexual fantasies and activities aimed at coping with anxiety, preserving self-esteem, reducing feelings of shame, and diverting attention from a sense of inner numbness.

What Does Sexualization Mean?

Sexualization is a psychological defense when negative experiences, with the help of sexual thoughts and activity, can be transformed into positive ones. For example, painful feelings when going to the doctor are transformed into sexual fantasies about nurses. This allows anxiety to be controlled, self-esteem to be maintained, and discomfort and shame to be distracted.

The Object of Sexualization in Women and Men

Women more often sexualize dependence, subordination, and the process of learning, which manifests itself in masochistic tendencies and men - aggression, the desire for possession, power, and money.

Sexualization as a Psychological Defense

Sexualization begins to manifest itself at a very early age and is often hardly realized. When a young child is very anxious, he or she may start to masturbate, as this will be the only available way to defuse and switch to pleasure. You should not shame or scold your child for this way of responding; teaching your child alternative ways of releasing tension is more effective. Often, the target of sexualization is traumatic events that can be turned around and presented as life-affirming.

If, in adulthood, turning to early sexualized memories helps to maintain harmony in the psychological state, pleasantly diversify the sexual life, and satisfies the interests of both partners - this is a constructive application of protection. For example, a partner who feared his teacher at school occasionally turns this into a sexual scenario, where a subjugation relationship is played out as agreed.

Suppose this defense has led to an intense fixation on a particular method of pleasure, which becomes impossible without specific attributes, which is burdensome for the person. In that case, there is a reason to consult with a specialist. If a partner who prefers the submissive position needs to experience absolute terror for arousal, he chooses aggressive, violent people and may become a victim of sexual abuse and exploitation.

Is Sexualization a Problem?

Thus, sexualization is not inherently problematic or destabilizing to the psyche. Only the context and consequences of the defense in adulthood determine whether it should be seen as a positive adaptation, an invisible habit, or a pathological urge.

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