Sexology, from theory to practice

In a profoundly puritanical world, sexology arose in the nineteenth century with the «excuse» of curing sexual disfunctions and abberations, as seen in the work of Krafft-Ebbing. And we know of the problems which Freud had to confront in spite of his basic personal and professional puritanism, his esoteric and metaphorical language, etc. We need only recall the tale, told as a demonstration of the incomprehension which greeted psychoanalysis, according to which when, in 1919, Freud was looking for premises for his psychoanalysis seminar in the Hayek Clinic, the Director warned him that this should not be for «applied sexology». This story is all the more significant insofar as it was told many years later by W. Reich, the maximum representative of the period of practical application of sexology who was to end his days in prison thanks to the invention and marketing of an orgonic machine.

What would we say of an economist who, in his works, had to excuse him-elf, insisting that wao not purcuing (-)wn economic interests? Or who had to make a point of staying pure, away from companies, banks or governments, whose leaders he would simply describe as mean or adventurers? However, this continues to be the practical attitude of sexologists in general in relation to industries and services associated with sex in its commercial aspect.

It is true that, in the field of sex education, worthy efforts have been made in practical directions along the lines of «sensitive training» and Erotic Growth Courses, as well as in the sphere of family planning, ETSs, etc. and, in therapies, use has been made of sexual assistants and other practical applications in some cases. However, it is not possible to progress indefinitely in these somewhat theoretical and clinical aspects of sexuality without facing up to the rest.

This is why we now propose, without abandoning the educational and therapeutic field, that a large part of the effort in sexology be aimed at improving other aspects of sexuality such as those taken up by the so-called sex industry -from the most abstract, such as films and erotic magazines, to the most carnal, such as massages and the misnamed prostitution. In other words, to make an effort to connect and improve that type of sexual activity which is paid for directly, rather than other sexual activities, such as those which are internal to a couple, whether married or not, for which the price is usually far higher albeit indirect, so that they do not appear on the market (like, in another field the labor of the housewife).

Connection by means of appropriate and comprehensive counseling, with that sex industry, would enable sexology to enter the main stream of the market, in response to the demand for sexual products and services from a quantitatively and qualitatively highly significant portion of the population. Sexology would thereby test its substance, its ability to practically and genuinely satisfy those sexual needs.

In many areas – physiology, health, psychology, etc., -sexology is already prepared to provide a scheme of improvements to the different spheres of the sex industry: however, it does not yet have the experience of integrating those different aspects and to make them available in such a way as to be acceptable and applicable by current sex-industry entrepreneurs. Moreover, in order to be successful in its new task, sexology has not only to establish closer relations with disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, economics and politics, not to mention communications science, general psychology, etc.; it must also emphasize certain aspects of physiology, hygiene, or sexual psychology which are not, at present, as fully developed as the public in fact requires.

New and improved practises cannot arise, nor much less be successful, if not in close collaboration with new improved theory. In order to be successful, the movement in favor of a more applied sexology must have a philosophy which is liberated as far as possible from the remainders of the puritanism which, even now, influences sexologists themselves. Those who choose to be pioneers in this movement must themselves feel profoundly (and not just state or even believe) that sexual pleasure is something which is genuinely good, not merely tolerable. That pleasure, far from being always selfish, is an essential element of fraternity which is able to link people in satisfaction and not just in suffering, because, unless we love ourselves, unreservedly, also «body and soul», it is not possible to love others «body and soul».

In order to implement this new tendency, Applied Sexology Bureaus might be set up to make a study in each country of the legislation, sexual habits and the current situation in the different areas of the sex industry and which, through an inter-disciplinary team, could offer a plan of improvements for a given sector of that industry. In this first stage, it would be necessary not just to work harder to sell this new product in return for less economic compensation for a greater effort; particular care would also have to be taken in the selection of customers, so that the experiment does not fail due to factors alien to the sexual counselling, e.g. poor general presentation or an excessive price for the product or service concerned.

In conclusion, we repeat our conviction that we must move from a sexology which has excessively the nature of an observer, which is curative, individualistic, academic and subliminating, to one which is more active, preventive, social, popular and pleasure-oriented. To use a well-known expression, it seems to us that, until now, sexologists have dedicated themselves fundamentally to interpreting sex whereas now, the aim is, above all, to transform it. This, to use another well-known phrase, will not only make for «a world which is safer for pleasure» but also a world which is much more pleasurable, where sex and the true sexologist are awarded the status they deserve.