Sexual Fantasies

    The following books attempt to understand in their various ways
just what sexual fantasies are and how they arise.
They are reviewed by James Park,
existential philosopher and reader of sexology.
These books are arranged in order of their quality,
beginning with the best.
The red comments are the opinions and responses of this reviewer.

Copyright © 2010 by James Leonard Park

1. Brett Kahr
Who's Been Sleeping in Your Head?
The Secret World of Sexual Fantasies

(New York: Basic Books:, 2008)       493 pages
(ISBN: 978-0-465-03766-7; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: BF692.K27 2008)

    A British psychotherapist who has studied sexual fantasies
on both side of the Atlantic Ocean
in the UK and the USA
takes us on a fascinating tour of the hidden parts of the human mind.

    This book is based on extensive interviews with several hundred subjects
plus surveys of several thousand others.
Almost all of the subjects were recruited from the general public.
The subjects were not psychotherapy clients.
As such, it might be the most extensive study of human sexual fantasies.

    No dramatic new information is uncovered,
but this book does explore all of the most common sexual fantasies.

    The author is a Freudian, but this does not distort his data.
He spends many pages trying to find the causes of sexual fantasies
in the childhood experiences of the subjects.
And in many cases, traumatic events from childhood
do seem to be the basic causes of adult sexual fantasies.

    Many of the subjects had never shared their sexual fantasies with anyone else.

    No general theory of sexual fantasies emerges from this study.
But the gathered data could be used by future researchers
who might be able to develop comprehensive explanations.
The author's research also continues.

    This would be a good place for anyone to begin reading about sexual fantasies.

2. Michael Bader
The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies

(New York: St. Martin's Press:, 2002)       293 pages
(ISBN: 0-312-26933-1; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ31.B185 2002)

    This psychoanalyst has seen many patients with troublesome sexual fantasies.
Because of his Freudian orientation, he seeks the background for fantasies
in the dynamics of the patient's family-of-origin.
What are the unconscious origins of rape fantasies, for example?
Women who have such fantasies do not really want to be raped.
But they discover that being overwhelmed by a man
or surrendering to a powerful man 'really turns them on'.

    This reviewer agrees that troublesome sexual fantasies
were not consciously chosen by the person possessed by these sex-scripts.
We simply discover such fantasies to be a deep part of our psyches.
But unpacking the Freudian unconscious will probably not explain them.
Rather, unchosen sexual fantasies were imprinted at random
at critical periods in the first two decades of life.
See the last book in this bibliography for a full exposition
of the hypothesis of imprinted sexual fantasies.

    Some women find that they are 'turned on' by ruthless and even violent men.
However, if their sexual responses depend on such dynamics,
they are left cold by really kind and considerate men.
In other words, the sorts of men
whom they might like to live with and possibly marry
are not the ones who create sexual passion.
In their emotional depths, they want tender love and romance,
but macho men are the ones who get them sexually aroused.
They experience a disjunction within themselves between love and lust.

    Of course, women with other kinds of imprinted sexual fantasies
do find romantic courting sexually arousing.
Soft music and quiet conversation without any hint
of being 'taken' against their will is what causes sexual arousal.
They find themselves sexually interested in men (or women)
who would never think of raping them
or who might even resist their sexual advances.
Women with such imprinted sexual responses
would probably never take them to a therapist.
Rather, they want to marry the romantic men,
not consort with rough strangers.

    When men find female breasts in their fantasies,
does this have anything to do with breast-feeding in infancy?
It seems to this reviewer
that many of the psychoanalytic interpretations are far-fetched.
Men and women do in fact have sometimes-puzzling sexual fantasies,
but the search for causes in 'the unconscious' seems doomed to failure.

    Bader does recognize that sexual fantasies sometimes
seem out-of-character for the person who has them.
The new person that the client is choosing to become
has nothing to do with the sexual fantasies discovered deep within.

    Some couples were encouraged to play ruthless games in bed
because that helped their sexual satisfaction,
even tho it was not the kinds of persons they were.
Bader seems so focused on making sex 'better'
that he does not even consider getting beyond the fantasies.
The most he does is help clients to understand
the possible family dynamics that lie behind their sexual fantasies.

    A paragraph on page 220 summarizes this book:
"The pages of this book are filled with stories
of people who grew up with martyred mothers
and moodly or absent fathers
and as a result reaped feelings of guilt, worry, shame,
and helplessness, feelings that inhibited their capacity
for sexual pleasure and had to be overcome by sexual fantasies.
To some extent, such feelings
and therefore the fantasies that correct themand universal."

    This reviewer admires Bader's very serious attempt
to understand sexual fantasies
by looking at childhood family dynamics.
But it seems to this reviewer that the case has not been made.
If all family problems were prevented or solved,
would sexual fantasies disappear?
I do not think so.
People who have few psychological problems
still have elaborate imprinted sexual fantasies.
And the most psychologically-fragile people
do not necessarily have the most bizarre fantasies.
Bader could probably benefit from reading
the last book in this bibliography:
Imprinted Sexual Fantasies: A New Key for Sexology.

{last} James Park 
Imprinted Sexual Fantasies:

A New Key for Sexuality

(Minneapolis, MN: Existential Books:, 2008)       176 pages
(ISBN: 978-0-89231-561-7; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ21.P37 2008)

    This book offers a new hypothesis for explaining human sexuality:
Each human person is imprinted with specific sex-scripts
or sexual fantasies during our first 20 years of life.
Our first sexual responses are created
not by nature, not by nurture, but by mental imprinting.
If this hypothesis proves substantially correct,
it could revolutionize modern sexology.

    The four-page comprehensive outline will appear if you click the following line:
This outline will allow you to read about 60 pages
from Imprinted Sexual Fantasies.

    This book is available for publication by a major publisher.
Here is an Open Letter to Agents and Publishers.

    Additional suggestions for this sexual fantasies bibliography are always welcome.
Please send information about other relevant books to:
James Park: e-mail: PARKx032@TC.UMN.EDU
Other comments are also welcome.

Created August 29, 2008; Revised 3-20-2009; 4-24-2009; 4-29-2009; 3-7-2010

Related Bibliographies

    This bibliography is related to several others in sexology.
Here is the complete list:

Sexual Fantasies                         B-SX-FAN

Sexology                                      B-SEXOLO

Sex-Script Hypothesis                 B-SEX-SC

Variations of Sex and Gender      B-V-SG

I. Intersex                                     B-CRIT

II. Transsexualism                        B-TS

Transsexual Autobiographies      B-TS-AB

III. Sex-Roles                                B-ROLE

IV. Gender-Personality                 B-GEND

V. Sexual Orientation                   B-ORNT

VI. Cross-Dressing                       B-TV

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