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Mimir

A nonbigoted antisexuality

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Mimir

Greetings, AVENites! I'm sexual, not asexual, but I call myself "antisexual", for reasons that I'll make clear at length. In short, I'm a wannabe asexual, and I think the human race would be better off without sexuality than with it. At the same time, I want to distinguish myself from those who think that sexual behavior is inherently destructive or unethical and thus that everyone should be celibate. I'll also explain why I think that there are other people like me who could benefit from a home on the Web, and that AVEN, counterintuitively, should perhaps be that home. Anyway, let's begin.

My antisexuality

In many ways, I seem a typical heterosexual male. I experience sexual desire and arousal, I occasionally need to exert conscious effort in order to avoid staring at a woman's breasts, I've had at least one crush on a girl, I find masturbating pleasurable, and I imagine (virgin that I am) that I would find sex pleasurable. But I don't actually like any of this, in the sense that I don't masturbate and I've never dated or seen pornography (aside from glimpses of my father's collection, accidental encounters with which cause me to quickly look away and shudder with dread). Given the choice, I'd rather have no sexual feelings at all, not even the "pure" libido, separate from feelings about other people, that some asexuals describe.

"Okay, but why?" you ask. Good question. As a student of psychology (and, to a lesser degree, philosophy), I entertain a distinction between justification and motivation. I can tell you my justification without possibility of error, because my justification for my actions is by definition what I say it is, but motivation is an empirical phenomenon about which I can only give you my opinion as a wannabe scientist.

My justification itself is multifarious. It's grown all the more tangled as I've aged. (I got a sexuality one ordinary day when I was eleven and adopted an antisexual outlook a few days later, and today I'm twenty-one.) I have no religious qualms about these things. In fact, I'm an atheist. My objection to sexual feelings is that they're too strong. They exert an undue influence on decision-making, whether in the form of peak arousal or a slight, even unconscious impulse. Psychological research establishing this intuitively clear fact is unfortunately sparse, which circumstance I attribute to an otherwise laudable effort to convince the public that sexuality is normal. Ariely and Loewenstein (2005) demonstrate that men make worse sexual decisions when highly aroused (in this case, masturbating with one hand while answering questions with the other—yuck!), but you already knew that. Much more interesting, although a thesis rather than an article in a peer-reviewed journal, alas, is Van Den Bergh (2009). Van Den Bergh found that men who were assigned to look at pictures of women in lingerie (as compared to men who looked at pictures of landscapes or normally dressed women) were more accepting of unfair offers in an ultimatum game. Similarly, men who inspected brassieres discounted the value of money over time more than men who inspected T-shirts. And Bradley and Meisel (2001) report that in female hamsters, sexual experience sensitizes dopaminergic activity in the nucleus accumbens in a way so like psychostimulants do that it actually increases response to amphetamine. I know that this body of research is largely inadequate, but I hope you agree that the scarceness of papers demonstrating the influence of sexual feelings on decision-making is more because few psychologists want to do such research and few journals want to publish it than because there's no truth to the idea.

So that's why I'd like to be asexual. My justification for general abstinence, then, is just that I get to feel fewer sexual feelings. True, I'm still obsessed with sex—I think about it multiple times a day, every day, usually without provocation, and here I am writing this positively logorrheic essay about sex—but at least I avoid the intenser feelings. When I experimented with masturbation on and off in 2009, after having abstained for six-and-a-half years straight, I was horrified to find how much more sexually saturated my everyday thoughts became, and I grew decreasingly able to tolerate the breathless act itself.

My attitude towards romance is more pragmatic. I just don't want to put the effort into it! Pursuing and maintaining love relationships can be a massive drain on time and energy. It might make me happy, but happiness isn't my goal. My Goal in Life is advancing human knowledge, and trying to be a good husband or father would only make this infinite task harder. The human race already has plenty of husbands and fathers, whereas it could use a lot more scientists.

Now for what I think was likely my core original motive in avoiding sexuality. Landau et al. (2006) found that subliminally reading the word "dead" (versus "pain") caused men (but not women) to rate pictures of "notably attractive women… dressed in a sexually appealing but not aberrant manner" as less attractive. The explanation offered by Landau et al., which is further supported by other studies presented in the same article, is terror-management theory, which states that humans are strongly motivated to avoid awareness of their personal mortality. According to terror-management theory, we tend to emphasize a distinction between people and animals, and to construe creaturely behaviors (like sex) as non-creaturely, because the fact that we're animals reminds us of our mortality. Conversely, being reminded of death makes us less accepting of creatureliness. This idea rings true to me because I'm neurotic, neuroticism (the Big Five personality factor, I mean) having been found in other studies (e.g., Goldenberg, Pyszczynski, McCoy, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1999) to correlate with this effect, and I've long been particularly frightened of death.

Here I should point out that I practice a more general form of asceticism than sexual abstinence. I avoid recreational drugs (including caffeine), I never use a swear word less socially acceptable than "crap", and recently I've been trying to avoid fictional portrayals of violence. I'm even an early riser. Perhaps "asceticism" isn't the best term, but I do often feel like an atheistic, computer-programming monk. Continuing on the theme of monasticism, without being formally diagnosed, I'm very close to having schizoid personality disorder. I can work with people, but I have basically no friends and rarely socialize. So even if I felt that I could pursue a love relationship without impeding my work, I'd probably never want to.

Other people

I didn't invent the term "antisexual". I got it from the Antisexual Stronghold. The Stronghold (if you haven't already heard of it, given the history it shares with AVEN) is a Russian community that advocates ideas similar to mine. Under the aegis of the tiny, informal International Antisexual Movement, these people denounce sexuality as harmful to humanity, for secular reasons. But the official platform is too radical for me to endorse. It calls for all people to distance themselves from sexuality, whereas I think celibacy would do most people more harm than good. It suggests that sexuals are foolish and immoral for behaving sexually, whereas I think that normal people's sexual behavior is better thought of as a consequence of different Goals in Life or simple inertia. And it downplays the emotional costs of sexual abstinence for sexuals, which I am keenly aware of myself, and which I think no sexual should be unaware of before taking the rugged road of celibacy. A more mundane but no less important reason that I can't really join forces with the Strongholders is that the conversation on their forum is almost entirely in Russian!

I wish there were a place on the Web where people with opinions or feelings similar to my own would congregate. We might not have much to say, but I think we would be comforted by the knowledge that we all exist. And indeed such people do exist! Take a look at the English board on the Antisexual Stronghold forum, or try reading the other boards with Google Translate, and observe the diversity of viewpoints even within this tiny group. Few agree entirely with the official platform. Some lean more towards radicalism, even bigotry, while others think more like me. And both at the Stronghold and on AVEN I see not necessarily asexual Anglophones with opinions similar to mine wishing for a forum where they felt they belonged. It all reminds me of the circumstances in which David Jay founded AVEN.

You might object that AVEN, given its objective of promoting asexuality, isn't the place for sexual antisexuals. But AVEN is no longer just about asexuality proper. It also represents demis and gray-As. The trend seems to be towards an alliance of everybody who has negative or indifferent attitudes towards sexuality for any non-religious reasons. Could I just start my own spin-off of the Antisexual Stronghold? Yes, but I know how difficult it is to make a new community visible. Recluse that I am, I'm unfit to campaign for anything. Think of it this way: there's strength in numbers. Antisexuals and asexuals might benefit from an alliance just as LGBT people and asexuals could.

AVENites, I don't pretend to understand the forces at work behind all these different sexual orientations and philosophies. Maybe I'm just an idiot who obstinately refuses put the same effort into accepting his sexuality that sane sexuals do for theirs. I realize I'm undermining the distinction between choice and sexual orientation, which LGBT folks and asexuals alike are trying so hard to make people realize, by proposing both justification and motivation for my behavior. I admit I don't have a concrete suggestion as to how to welcome or integrate nonbigoted antisexuals into AVEN. I've really just dumped a lot of ideas and observations into this post and hoped they're original enough to give you some food for thought. I've described my brand of antisexuality so thoroughly partly to put a face on sexual antisexuality and partly in case someone can see connections that I haven't seen or can think of a better way to describe me than I've thought of.

All I can add is that, as a psychologist, I see the value of a true understanding of human sexuality, and I know that in order to attain such an understanding we'll need to catalogue sexuality in something like its entirety. My research interest is actually decision-making, not sexuality, but, as I've taken some pains to illustrate, each of these two things has important albeit subtle consequences for the other.

References

(Needless to say, some of these papers are sexually graphic.)

Ariely, D., & Loewenstein, G. (2005). The heat of the moment: the effect of sexual arousal on sexual decision making. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 19(2), 87–98. doi:10.1002/bdm.501

Bradley, K. C., & Meisel, R. L. (2001). Sexual behavior induction of c-Fos in the nucleus accumbens and amphetamine-stimulated locomotor activity are sensitized by previous sexual experience in female Syrian hamsters. The Journal of Neuroscience, 21(6), 2123–2130. (NB: I don't know much neuroscience yet, so I probably wouldn't be able to answer questions about this paper.)

Goldenberg, J. L., Pyszczynski, T., McCoy, S. K., Greenberg, J., & Solomon, S. (1999). Death, love, sex, and neuroticism: Why is sex such a problem? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(6), 1173–1187. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1173

Landau, M. J., Goldenberg, J. L., Greenberg, J., Gillath, O., Solomon, S., Cox, C., Martens, A., & Pyszczynskif, T. (2006). The siren's call: Terror management and the threat of men's sexual attraction to women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(1), 129–146. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.90.1.129

Van Den Bergh, Bram. (2009). Basic instinct: the fire of desire in economic decisions (doctoral thesis). Retrieved from http://www.econ.kuleuven.be/public/ndbaf56/dissertation.pdf

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Jacqui

If you want to be celibate so you can think in a way you find clearer, go ahead, but you can't change that you get turned on or at least are attracted to stuff. I don't think that celibacy, or even distancing oneself from sexuality completely, would stop people from getting turned on by sex if they're sexual people. It's like saying if a straight boy goes to an all-boys boarding school and doesn't see any females other than his mother and his auntie for 4 years, he'll become gay because he's distanced from heterosexuality. That's not how it works. When he graduates, he'll probably still think that women are hot because he's straight.

I think that putting sex after more important things like work, paying taxes, and even art is smart. Sex shouldn't be everything, especially since apparently, it can become addictive. But telling people that they really should become celibate because otherwise, they'll be forever distracted doesn't make sense. As long as sex doesn't become their only motivation for anything, why should it matter? I know many sexuals who are sexually active who are perfectly capable of making rational decisions and don't bring sex into the economy or their work. To say that a person who has sex and gets aroused is incapable of making any sort of intelligent decisions is insulting, and in fact, bigoted.

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The Bookworm

Thanks for your post, Mimir.

I'm an asexual repulsed by sex and I have anti-sexual leanings, but also understand that people in the world can't stop having sex, nor do I have the right to enforce my ideas on others. I have a personal theory that supports anti-sexuality that is based in biology and psychology, but I still have a ton of research to do to ensure that it's a sound argument.

Welcome to AVEN! :cake: :cake: :cake: :)

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Siggy

You might object that AVEN, given its objective of promoting asexuality, isn't the place for sexual antisexuals. But AVEN is no longer just about asexuality proper. It also represents demis and gray-As. The trend seems to be towards an alliance of everybody who has negative or indifferent attitudes towards sexuality for any non-religious reasons.

Um, I don't think the overarching theme is inclusion of all people who have a "negative or indifferent attitude" towards sexuality. I'm a gray-A. I have a positive attitude towards sexuality.

What reason do I have to give any support to "non-bigoted antisexuality", seeing as how it's a point of view that I disagree with? Sure, I'll support the people. Antisexuals are welcome on the boards to share their thoughts and experiences. But why ever would I support the idea in the abstract?

Furthermore, an alliance implies support of not your position; you are just an individual. An alliance implies support of the official platform, which is too radical as you pointed out.

Finally, I note that, historically, there have been several antisexual asexual communities. History suggests that this is poison to the community.

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Mimir

Jacqui, I agree with everything you said except "As long as sex doesn't become their only motivation for anything, why should it matter?" Since people's actions are nearly always the products of many competing motivations rather than a single motivation, the details matter. Research on motivation demonstrates that general, unconscious, apparently irrelevant processes can in certain circumstances make a difference in behavior. Cognitive dissonance is a good example.

Um, I don't think the overarching theme is inclusion of all people who have a "negative or indifferent attitude" towards sexuality. I'm a gray-A. I have a positive attitude towards sexuality.

You're right. My phrasing was, to put it mildly, poor. I take it back. What I mean to say is that the theme is something like "people in whose lives sexual attraction plays less of a role than in most people's". Whether that's because one simply doesn't experience (a usual degree or pattern of) sexual attraction, or one deliberately rejects it (in whole or in part), or both in any of infinitely many combinations (I'm imagining two perpendicular axes) depends on the person.

Furthermore, an alliance implies support of not your position; you are just an individual. An alliance implies support of the official platform, which is too radical as you pointed out.

Certainly I don't mean to suggest that antisexuals on AVEN should endorse the IAM platform. Rather they should use a new one, one which I've yet to draw up and may not even have a real predecessor, one which would lean more towards my ideas than Yuri Nesterenko's (or Miss Geri's, for that matter).

…historically, there have been several antisexual asexual communities. History suggests that this is poison to the community.

Without having read the topic too closely or glanced at any of the linked-to articles, I gather that the problem was the extremism and intolerance of these antisexuals. The last things I want to do are start arguments about who is or isn't (anti/a)sexual and make enemies with the LGBT community.

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NamTar

I know you're speaking from your own POV, but people being influenced by sex is not limited to males. Just saying.

Sex does influence a lot of people, but why must this always be a bad thing? I'm a very logical person myself, and I can't understand being influenced by sexual or romantic things to the extent that many people are, but I don't automatically consider it bad. A lot of things influence people's decision making. what I'm saying is: Would it really be desirable for every person to be completely calm, sane, and rational all the time? A lot of people like the highs and lows of emotions and romance and sex.

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Member 35376

Hello Mimir,

All I can add is that, as a psychologist, I see the value of a true understanding of human sexuality, and I know that in order to attain such an understanding we'll need to catalogue sexuality in something like its entirety. My research interest is actually decision-making, not sexuality, but, as I've taken some pains to illustrate, each of these two things has important albeit subtle consequences for the other.

That is a VAST area - decision-making. And I am right now quite.. perplexed.. of why you SEEM so focused on sex? Sure, it IS a factor in peoples lives but as you say yourself in your last post - "Since people's actions are nearly always the products of many competing motivations rather than a single motivation, the details matter" - then out of pure curiosity from that statement.. are you also trying to gain deeper insight into other areas of the human experience that deals with decision-making? How should I put it simple.. is sex a "side-area" in a larger context that You are dealing with or do you put emphasise on sex of some particular reason (beyond your personal life that is)? I hope that my questions are understandable :)

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Mimir
Would it really be desirable for every person to be completely calm, sane, and rational all the time?

I don't know. It's hard for me to imagine such people. Could agents that were infallibly rational even be described as "people"? Would we recongize them as one of us? That said, I feel certain that people would be better off being calmer, saner, and more rational than they are now. So many more of the troubles of the world are caused by ignorance, impatience, bias, foolishness, or just good old-fashioned stupidity than by actual malice (think of Hanlon's razor).

Emotional_TX, I understand your question. The answer is a bit thorny. As you may have already gathered, it's at least as accurate to say that my antisexuality led to my general outlook on life than the reverse. As a preteenage adolescent, I became concerned with questions of human fallibility—questions of psychology—because of the shock of my own sexuality. But I don't expect to do much sex research myself. I'm concerned less with sex in particular than with errors in decision-making in general. The means by which all motivations—helpful or unhelpful, creaturely or civilized—determine the decisions we make are more general and hence more important to me than any particular motivation. Of course I'll need to pick particular kinds of decisions in order to study something concrete, but I think there are better choices than sexual decisions, not least because my strong feelings about sexual issues could color my scientific judgment. (I am aware of the intense irony here.) The kind of decision I'm studying now as part of my senior thesis, for example, is numerical estimation: my subjects will answer questions like "How long is the Amazon River?"

To be clear, I've read a lot more research on other topics in decision-making than on sexuality.

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isitso

I didn't MQ, sorry. Very interesting read.

"Now for what I think was likely my core original motive in avoiding sexuality. Landau et al. (2006) found that subliminally reading the word "dead" (versus "pain") caused men (but not women) to rate pictures of "notably attractive women… dressed in a sexually appealing but not aberrant manner" as less attractive. The explanation offered by Landau et al., which is further supported by other studies presented in the same article, is terror-management theory, which states that humans are strongly motivated to avoid awareness of their personal mortality. According to terror-management theory, we tend to emphasize a distinction between people and animals, and to construe creaturely behaviors (like sex) as non-creaturely, because the fact that we're animals reminds us of our mortality. Conversely, being reminded of death makes us less accepting of creatureliness. This idea rings true to me because I'm neurotic, neuroticism (the Big Five personality factor, I mean) having been found in other studies (e.g., Goldenberg, Pyszczynski, McCoy, Greenberg, & Solomon, 1999) to correlate with this effect, and I've long been particularly frightened of death."

Perhaps I am being overtly abstract, but wouldn't this piece imply that antisexuality is little more than a defense mechanism, a way to avoid seeing our own morality as you put it? Wouldn't it be healthier for someone who is sexual to look himself in the eye, see their ties to other biological creatures, and accept themselves openly rather than trying to vilify sexuality which is deeply ingrained in their genetic persona?

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Mimir

That's what the terror-management theorists think. I see no reason to carry Freudianism that far. I'd like to ban the phrase "defensive mechanism". Y'see, calling a behavior a defensive mechanism makes it sound maladaptive without making falsifiable claims of how it's maladaptive. I don't doubt that for most people, it is healthier (in the sense of promoting a sense of well-being—"healthy" is also a dangerous word) to accept rather than reject one's sexuality. I say this because I've heard stories of people being tormented by abstinence and feeling at peace as soon as they let themselves go. (Incidentally, the person who tells that story wasn't helped by his ambivalence or his unrealistic goals.) For me, it appears to be the other way around. Perhaps I haven't tried letting myself go enough. But that's an unfalisifiable idea. I could try any sort of sexual behavior any number of times and if I still couldn't stand it, you could still say "Give it time. You have a lot of inhibitions to overcome." So here I am.

Never mind the fact that there things I want to optimize for other than "health". There are many things I do, although they make me less happy, in order to achieve goals that I care about more than happiness.

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Hot_Air_Balloons

Thanks for your post, Mimir.

I'm an asexual repulsed by sex and I have anti-sexual leanings, but also understand that people in the world can't stop having sex, nor do I have the right to enforce my ideas on others.

Welcome to AVEN! :cake: :cake: :cake: :)

Same here.

When I experimented with masturbation on and off in 2009, after having abstained for six-and-a-half years straight, I was horrified to find how much more sexually saturated my everyday thoughts became

And this here, is why I believe some religious groups teach you not to do that. It's true that sex does seem to sway people's thoughts. I agree with you on that for sure.

Welcome to AVEN!

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Sally

Greetings, AVENites! I'm sexual, not asexual, but I call myself "antisexual", for reasons that I'll make clear at length. In short, I'm a wannabe asexual, and I think the human race would be better off without sexuality than with it.

AVEN is not an antisexual site, nor is it a site for wannabe asexuals, or for people who think the human race would be better off without sexuality. It's a site for asexuals, and for sexuals who are allies.

If you are truly a psychologist (rather than someone who has studied some psychology), I'd think you'd realize from your education and training that proposing that the human race would be better off without sexuality is kind of silly.

I don't believe there's anything non-bigoted about an antisexual, or an anti-anything.

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Mimir

If you are truly a psychologist (rather than someone who has studied some psychology)…

Hey, I'm workin' on it! Like I said, I'm only twenty-one. I submitted my applications to PhD programs just last week.

…I'd think you'd realize from your education and training that proposing that the human race would be better off without sexuality is kind of silly.

If you have specific reasons why my idea is bogus, I welcome you to present them.

I don't believe there's anything non-bigoted about an antisexual, or an anti-anything.

I'm also anti-gun. This doesn't mean I think that everyone on earth should throw down their guns, nor that everyone who owns guns is evil, nor that every use of a gun is unjustified. It means I'd prefer a world without guns to a world with one. Is this also a form of bigotry?

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shaedofblue
I don't believe there's anything non-bigoted about an antisexual, or an anti-anything.

I'm also anti-gun. This doesn't mean I think that everyone on earth should throw down their guns, nor that everyone who owns guns is evil, nor that every use of a gun is unjustified. It means I'd prefer a world without guns to a world with one. Is this also a form of bigotry?

Guns are objects, not innate aspects of nearly every human personality.

If you didn't think black people were evil, but still wished everyone was white, or vice-versa, you'd still be racist.

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Mimir

Guns are objects, not innate aspects of nearly every human personality.

Okay, here's reductio ad absurdum using a real aspect of personality instead. I'm anti-neuroticism (again, in the sense of the five-factor model). That is, I think the world would be better off without extreme neuroticism scores than with it. As in the case of sexuality, this opinion is based partly on my experience of having the trait in question and partly on my reading in psychology. Suppose for contradiction that this is a form of bigotry. Then clinical interventions intended to make people less neurotic are bigoted—which is absurd, right?

If you didn't think black people were evil, but still wished everyone was white, or vice-versa, you'd still be racist.

This analogy fails because there are no substantial, inherent differences between blackness and whiteness, so there's no motive other than bigotry (in this case, racism) one could have for such a preference. By contrast, there is a substantial, inherent difference between having sexual feelings and not having them: namely, whether or not one has sexual feelings.

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Pamcakes

Mimir, if you choose to reject your body's instinctual drives, that's entirely your business. Whether or not you choose to masturbate or to engage in sexual encounters is no-one's concern but your own. But please don't convince yourself it's anything more than it is; your sexual anorexia (apologies if this is insensitive to anyone with eating disorders reading this, but it was the most apt metaphor I could find for my perception of this gentleman's situation) does not make you any more focused or clear-headed than anyone else.

So that's why I'd like to be asexual. My justification for general abstinence, then, is just that I get to feel fewer sexual feelings. True, I'm still obsessed with sex—I think about it multiple times a day, every day, usually without provocation, and here I am writing this positively logorrheic essay about sex—but at least I avoid the intenser feelings. When I experimented with masturbation on and off in 2009, after having abstained for six-and-a-half years straight, I was horrified to find how much more sexually saturated my everyday thoughts became, and I grew decreasingly able to tolerate the breathless act itself.

In fact, going by your own admission that your general state is "obsessed with sex", and that when you did step up the self-pleasuring your erotic thoughts increased to a degree you found consistently distracting, I'd say you're probably more at the mercy of your libido than the average person who is having sexual contact of some sort on a regular basis. Might I suggest it's because, much less than shutting down entirely, your libido is reacting to the deprivation like a dog that would be quiet and docile if walked occasionally, but without controlled indulgence is sufficiently frustrated that it has turned to digging up the petunias? By your own account, your thoughts certainly seem more focused on sex on a day to day basis than mine, and I'm about as highly sexual as one can get without it becoming a disorder; the difference being, I engage in sexual fulfillment several times a week. As I said, if you choose not to, it's entirely your own affair, but it's obviously not having the effect you had hoped for.

P.

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shaedofblue

Guns are objects, not innate aspects of nearly every human personality.

Okay, here's reductio ad absurdum using a real aspect of personality instead. I'm anti-neuroticism (again, in the sense of the five-factor model). That is, I think the world would be better off without extreme neuroticism scores than with it. As in the case of sexuality, this opinion is based partly on my experience of having the trait in question and partly on my reading in psychology. Suppose for contradiction that this is a form of bigotry. Then clinical interventions intended to make people less neurotic are bigoted—which is absurd, right?

Some of the clinical interventions intended to make people less neurotic certainly are bigoted.

Especially the ones that involve torturing kids until they fit society's definition of normal, or, really, any of the ones that try to normalize kids who don't yet have the capacity to give informed consent to such brainwashing.

Besides, you aren't talking about reducing the extremes. You are talking about the elimination of that aspect of the personality entirely.

I am quite a neurotic person. Taking that aspect of my temperament away would stunt my artistic abilities, emotionally lobotomizing me.

Wishing that on me would certainly be mentalist bigotry.

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Sally

If you are truly a psychologist (rather than someone who has studied some psychology)…

Hey, I'm workin' on it! Like I said, I'm only twenty-one. I submitted my applications to PhD programs just last week.

Then calling yourself a psychologist is misleading.

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Sally
…I'd think you'd realize from your education and training that proposing that the human race would be better off without sexuality is kind of silly.

If you have specific reasons why my idea is bogus, I welcome you to present them.

Your idea is silly because considering one of the the standard definitions of sexuality (the condition of having sex), without it the human race would become extinct.

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Mimir

Pamcakes, this is a delicate point, so I apologize for not being more explicit about it: I don't think abstinence makes me more clear-headed than you or anybody else; I've just noticed that it makes me more clear-headed than I would be otherwise. It's like how Matt Groening described middle school as the deepest pit in hell and high school as the second-deepest pit in hell. (For those of you following along at home, that's from Life in Hell, not The Simpsons.) They're both pretty terrible, but one option is somewhat less terrible.

By your own account, your thoughts certainly seem more focused on sex on a day to day basis than mine, and I'm about as highly sexual as one can get without it becoming a disorder…

I don't know what your metric of "sexualness" is, nor where you draw the line between acceptable and disordered. I would be interested in seeing the distribution of frequency of sexual thoughts among, say, twentysomething males. I got the impression, rightly or wrongly, that my rate (a few times a day, punctuated with a burst every two months or so) is typical. Indeed, isn't that within the neighborhood of the masturbation rate for my norm group? However you count sexual thoughts, I'd expect one per orgasm at the very least.

Some of the clinical interventions intended to make people less neurotic certainly are bigoted.

Especially the ones that involve torturing kids until they fit society's definition of normal, or, really, any of the ones that try to normalize kids who don't yet have the capacity to give informed consent to such brainwashing.

I don't approve of those "camps", either, although I've never heard of one that claimed it would lower neuroticism.

Besides, you aren't talking about reducing the extremes. You are talking about the elimination of that aspect of the personality entirely.

Okay, try the third—and if this one doesn't fit your working definition of bigotry, either, please explain that definition clearly. I'm anti-(trait hostility).

Then calling yourself a psychologist is misleading.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you think I've had any more training than I have. :( I thought that by first calling myself "a student of psychology" and "a wannabe scientist" and pointing out that I'm twenty-one, the phrase "as a psychologist, I…" wouldn't be taken to imply that I'm a professional yet.

Your idea is silly because considering one of the the standard definitions of sexuality (the condition of having sex), without it the human race would become extinct.

I'm not complaining about sexual intercourse itself. I'm complaining about typical human sexuality as a whole. I would appraise any other sort of sexuality on its own merits. Anyway, we can expect artificial-reproduction technologies to improve dramatically in the future.

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shaedofblue

Some of the clinical interventions intended to make people less neurotic certainly are bigoted.

Especially the ones that involve torturing kids until they fit society's definition of normal, or, really, any of the ones that try to normalize kids who don't yet have the capacity to give informed consent to such brainwashing.

I don't approve of those "camps", either, although I've never heard of one that claimed it would lower neuroticism.

They try to get rid of stress coping mechanisms they don't approve of, so they are at least trying to reduce the appearance of neuroticism.

The second half of that sentence was mostly in reference to drugging kids for having personalities that are inconvenient to the parents, which are sometimes neurotic personalities.

Besides, you aren't talking about reducing the extremes. You are talking about the elimination of that aspect of the personality entirely.

Okay, try the third—and if this one doesn't fit your working definition of bigotry, either, please explain that definition clearly. I'm anti-(trait hostility).

If you are still talking about eliminating the trait, then you are still bigoted.

A world without trait hostility is a world without british humor.

You seem to think the ideal world is one of soulless sheeple, pointlessly contented.

For some, probably most, people, that world would not be worth living in.

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Mimir

Trait hostility is worth preserving for the sake of humor? You're willing to pay for laughter with needless violence? What reasonable definition of "bigotry" makes me a bigot for disapproving of this ghastly exchange?

You seem to think the ideal world is one of soulless sheeple, pointlessly contented.

Nah. If everyone were supremely complacent, all other things being equal, the advancement of human knowledge would grind to a halt.

Edit: Wait a minute! Over dinner, I just realized something. I think we're both barking up the wrong tree, and it's my fault. By repeatedly saying I'm against "sexuality"—by using this word so consistently and arguing about the concept from a pretty abstract perspective—I've misled you as to what I'm really against. My antisexuality is not essentialist. I'm not complaining about everything that might be called "sexuality". Rather, I'm complaining about a very particular psychological phenomenon, one which produces the effects found in the Ariely and Loewenstein study, Van Den Bergh's experiments, and a hypothetical human equivalent of the Bradley and Meisel study. If human sexuality were magically changed to remove all pernicious influences on decision-making, then I would have no theoretical objection to it, although (according to terror-management theory) I would still want to abstain. In this sense, I'm not against all of sexuality but rather, particular consequences of it, as I imagine you would be against the consequence of trait hostility that makes people violent but not the one (which I don't know exists, but I see no reason to dispute the point here) that causes British humor.

The reason I present my position as "I wish sexuality didn't exist" instead of "I wish sexuality were different" is because it seems (and this, I admit, is something that would be just about impossible to empirically demonstrate) that the most familiar features of sexuality are what impair decision-making. In other words, I imagine that in order to be harmless, sexuality would have to be so different that we wouldn't readily equate it with we now call by that name. Also, "antisexuallyinducedperniciousinfluencesondecisionmaking" doesn't quite roll off the tongue.

Hopefully that all makes a little more sense.

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Sally

Mimir, if you intend to become a clinical psychologist, you might have to let loose of some of your attitudes toward sexuality, because it won't be appropriate if you bring them with you into the consultation room. But if you obtain entrance into a PhD program, your preceptors will probably talk with you about that.

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Jacqui

Jacqui, I agree with everything you said except "As long as sex doesn't become their only motivation for anything, why should it matter?" Since people's actions are nearly always the products of many competing motivations rather than a single motivation, the details matter. Research on motivation demonstrates that general, unconscious, apparently irrelevant processes can in certain circumstances make a difference in behavior. Cognitive dissonance is a good example.

You agree with everything I said except that statement? So you pretty much agree that your theories hold no merit since sexuality isn't something you choose, therefore celibacy or even distancing oneself from sex won't prevent sexual attraction and being turned on? Interesting.

Anyone with a basic understanding of sexuality would know that just because you don't have sex doesn't mean you're no longer attracted to people sexually. Instead of advocating celibacy and distancing people from sex, maybe people should train themselves to become better at blocking out distractions, no matter what they are, be it sex, food, video games, TV shows, or whatnot. Sex isn't bad. Neither is television or junk food. Distraction, not sex itself, seems to be what you have a problem with. Celibacy doesn't solve the problem. Training oneself to focus on things that are actually important, on the other hand, can do quite a bit of good.

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Mimir

Sally, I want to be a researcher, not a clinician. In other words, I'm interested in these guys, not these guys.

So you pretty much agree that your theories hold no merit…

No, I think you've mixed up my ideas about sexuality vs. not-having-a-sexuality with my ideas about abstinence vs. sexual activity. I make no claims that abstinence is a cure for sexuality. I only know that, in my own case, it makes life more tolerable. The only panic attack I've had in my life was during a week I was trying masturbation.

Nothing you said in your first post, apart from the specific bit I objected to initially, contradicts what I said in my first post.

…maybe people should train themselves to become better at blocking out distractions…

I think it would be overly optimistic to believe we can get ourselves to nullify such pernicious influences on decision-making by training ourselves somehow. Not even Daniel Kahneman is invulnerable to decision-making biases, although if anybody knows how to train himself appropriately, he should.

…if you give yourself time to accept and adjust to them [sexual feelings], you may learn to master them to your advantage?

I doubt it, since the subjects in the studies I mentioned had most likely already accepted and adjusted to their sexual feelings, and yet the researchers found the effects they were seeking. To believe I could do better would be ludicrously conceited of me. I suppose you could argue that I already am ludicrously conceited. :)

To keep them suppressed indefinitely will require chemical and/or environmental intervention.

Well, what kind of suppression are you thinking of? Yes, actually getting rid of my sexual feelings would require anti-androgens or castration, the side-effects of which are, in my opinion, worse than sexuality. I'm still waiting for a good anaphrodisiac. But just continuing to abstain should be easy. Don't say it isn't possible: Newton did it, Erdős did it. I'm not a mathematical genius, but I should be able to manage it, too.

No matter what the advantages of such a course, I seriously doubt it will make you feel happiness or joy.

I know, but nor would sexual activity, so here I am. Anyway, three hundred years from now, nobody will care whether or not I was happy. All that will matter is what I left behind.

Would you agree?

Hmm. That's an interesting way to look at it. The thing is: suppose that I just want to buy the best item, and I don't care how enjoyable the transaction is. I think that's an eminently reasonable desire. And yet there's no general way to cancel out my biases in favor of enjoyment. Also, it seems shortsighted to pay for sexual stimulation in one context when I could get it for free in an easily accessible alternative context.

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Nameless123

I have more or less read through the entire thread but I'm somehow too lazy to address everything that rubbed me the wrong way. Suffice it to say that any stance that has the prefix "anti" pretty much precludes the possibility to deal with that thing against which this "anti"-attitude exists in a reasonable way.

And even though I can't particularly argue a brilliant case for that opinion I don't believe an antisexual attitude can ever be anything else than bigoted.

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Sally

Sally, I want to be a researcher, not a clinician. In other words, I'm interested in these guys, not these guys.

Research is reading articles in The Daily Mail?

...and yet the researchers found the effects they were seeking.

Research demands just as much of an open mind as clinical psychology. You don't seek "an effect"; you design a project and take what results you get.

But just continuing to abstain should be easy. Don't say it isn't possible: Newton did it, Erdős did it. I'm not a mathematical genius, but I should be able to manage it, too.

Of course you can continue to abstain; however, it will probably not be easy. I'm not sure why you are certain that Newton did it, unless you've discovered a secret journal he wrote. Our claims about the personal actions/non-actions/thoughts of people who lived hundreds of years ago are not very well-supported.

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test account

Interesting.

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Mimir

Research is reading articles in The Daily Mail?

Very funny.

You don't seek "an effect"; you design a project and take what results you get.

On the contrary, hypothesis-testing is a huge part of psychological research. Take a look at a research-methods textbook if you don't believe me.

Of course you can continue to abstain; however, it will probably not be easy.

Why not? At this point, it's the path of least resistance.

I'm not sure why you are certain that Newton did it, unless you've discovered a secret journal he wrote.

You're right, we can't be certain Newton was celibate. It's possible, recluse that he was, that he lived a secret life about which we'll never know. But, I'd say it's more likely he was celibate than he wasn't. For a defense of this idea, see James Gleick's biography, which does in fact cite relevant passages from journals that Newton kept secret while he was alive.

Averillo Armadillo, if I understand correctly what you mean by "mental suppression", then I think you've misunderstood what I'm actually doing. I'm not getting myself to feel less sexual feelings—not directly, anyway. All I'm doing is controlling my behavior. Abstaining from masturbation ought to continue being easy because of how aversive the experience was the last time I tried it, and because (in my experience) the only hard part is at the beginning: once you've reached a certain point (after, say, a year), it takes more effort to get yourself to masturbate than to prevent yourself from doing it. (I like to say, only half in jest, that habit is the most powerful human motive.) Abstaining from sex ought to be easy because, recluse that I am, nobody ever gets to know me well enough that they'd want to have sex with me, anyway. An example of something that I found much harder to do than sexual abstinence, but which I managed to pull off anyway, is writing a novel.

I disagree actually because if you do leave something great behind, plenty of people will be sorry to learn if you were not happy.

I never thought of that. I guess you're right: it is sad that Riemann was so miserable, and it's hard not to feel a bit of pity for the Newton who put so much of his prodigious energies into destroying Leibniz and Hooke. I can only admit that my real standard of my own legacy is much more selfish than I let on. I don't care what other people will think about me personally, I care about how much I advance human knowledge. Well, they'll need to judge me a decent scientist rather than a crackpot or a fraud, but it's okay if they remember me as angsty. I would happily readily be another Riemann. Besides, I find the stories of people like Riemann and Van Gogh inspiring as well as sad. They show that crazy people can do good.

So you would be focused on the outcome of the transaction, not the transaction itself. And you can do that as a sexual man - maybe not so successfully right now while your hormones are going crazy, but certainly in time.

But research on more famous kinds of decision-making biases, like framing effects, tends to find that while high stakes, achievement motivation (which I think would include the kind of focus of which you speak), relevant expertise, etc. can help to reduce the effects of biases, they can't generally nullify those effects. Nobody has tested the case where the bias is sexually induced, but I see no reason why that would be different.

Mimir, your thoughts are fascinating, truly :)

Everybody speaks from their own perspective of course. By all means, hang out on AVEN to discuss your thoughts and feelings as they come up, compare and contrast, and make of it what you will. :cake:

This gesture, like similar ones from Alaska and Hot_Air_Balloons, means a lot to me, and I do have a weakness for cake. However, one reason I'm hesitant to reply to other threads is that some people who've posted here seem to consider me a bigoted pretender to scientific thinking. I'm afraid how they would react. I don't want to be anybody's enemy.

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