Men and Pornography

 Men's Interest  Comments Off on Men and Pornography
Dec 312016
 

GUEST POST by Ger Murphy

Jack(56) came to see me at my psychotherapy practice some months ago complaining of depressive episodes and lack of motivation. As he spoke he revealed that he had been experiencing strong feelings of loneliness and isolation following his wife’s recent work changes, which meant she had taken on a demanding new work role and was increasingly unavailable to him. He disclosed that their sexual relationship ,which had been vibrant, had diminished and that he had begun watching pornography for significant periods 3-4 times a week and masturbating to ejaculation.

The phenomena of the use of pornographic materials has become a major issue in the lives of many men. The increased availability of materials especially over the internet has exponentially increased the usage of porn . Pornography is now the biggest sales product on the Internet!

Many men view pornography and would say that it is harmless, and would not see it as having an impact on their sexual relationships. Many women find it distasteful, and for some it is objectifying and unacceptable. The use of pornographic material is often a secretive activity and is difficult to speak about.  It is important that we can find a way to speak of it  ,and not to simply condemn it or to guiltily laugh about it.

One way of looking at pornography which I have found useful in my work with couples as a psychotherapist is to look at the basic urge within porn. Pornography is about the urge to look. Men like looking at sexual material, and we can say that looking is an important erogenous zone for men. This may well be different for women. How could we think about reclaiming looking and its basic function for men?  Men want to look, perhaps women want to be looked at?  If these two urges could be rehabilitated into sexual relationships, how might men`s  use of  pornography be different?  If men were able to acknowledge their desire for erotic looking to their women and if women were able to allow themselves be looked at ,it could make a big difference in the use of porn.

Many men I have spoken to found that when they could ask their partners to dance for them ,dress up in risqué clothing and allow their men to gaze at all parts of their body, they found this deeply satisfying and felt deep gratitude and deepened connection with their partners. This can be  risky for   men and women to do.  Men need to be able to acknowledge their own sexual needs without guilt and with deep respect for the feminine. Women need to be able to open and be seen ,also to say no where appropriate, and have a healthy respect for the masculine including its wish to look: Engaging in such conversation can have a profound effect on the use of pornography which otherwise can be isolating, guilt-laden and a lonely and unfulfilling experience for men.

When Jack was able to discuss his emotional situation with Jane ,his wife, including his wish for increased contact and they were able to commit to a regular time for intimacy ,including the urge to look, Jack’s symptoms improved significantly.

Ger Murphy works as a psychotherapist in Dublin Ireland , can be contacted on www.iccp.ie  and germurphy@edgeworth.ie.

Names have been changed to protect confidentiality

 

Possible accompanying images:

Train Lovers: Why steam trains matter, and Dampfloks are AOK

 Train Lovers  Comments Off on Train Lovers: Why steam trains matter, and Dampfloks are AOK
Jan 282016
 

As I glide into my vintage years, I have come to realise that trains and railways are a great way to understand and interpret the apparent confusions of modern life.  You will find some examples of this approach in my blog.  I’m glad to be old enough to have main line steam as part of my boyhood and adolescence and its great that steam trains are still flourishing in so many ways.  But modern railways can teach us plenty too.

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Alan and his wife Linda at the Skunk Railroad in California.

 

Why steam trains matter, and Dampfloks are AOK

Many men are searching for meaning, a sense that the events of their life matter and have a shape to them.  I have hatched a belief that steam trains can help in this.

If you’re aged late fifties or older, you’ll have grown up with steam trains in your childhood.  I can recall many maturing men who get excited when I broach this topic, and who plug into vivid memories of magnificent steam engines.

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Ik droom van stoom!  The Zuid Limburgse Stoomtrein Maatschappi in the Netherlands

I can bang on at length about the lousy features of my childhood, if provoked, but many of the happier times I recall as a kid involve steam trains – either travelling on them with my mother to see my grandparents in Bournemouth, or watching them as a trainspotter.

I know there are legions of other maturing men, as well as me ,who are still in love with steam trains.  Just go to any preservation railway and you’ll see them, both working and travelling.  And about 80% of all the people you see on these lines are men, mostly over 50.  These railways, like The Watercress Line in Hampshire where I’m a Life Member, are magic bubbles, coherent worlds of innocence and delight where one feels remote from the miseries of yobs and evil dictators.

You could rubbish this as escapism, but I’d dispute this.  These men are creating meaning in their lives, in a fairly functional and certainly harmless way.  Most men need an activity to bring them together, and here’s a very sweet one, with these extraordinary engines at the heart of it.  You may feel alone and unregarded out there, but here on the railway, you matter, even if you just inspect the tickets or maintain the track.

The other key point is that steam locomotives are the most lifelike, exciting, endearing of all the machinery man has created.  The ways I can now explain why I loved trains as a child help me feel that my life has a shape and meaning: there’s an extra richness in enjoying steam railways now, because the child in me is rekindled in his delight.

I’m very lucky to have a girlfriend who quite enjoys steam trains too, so they get woven into outings and holidays.  I am writing this in the small town of Wernigerode in eastern Germany, with more excitement than a hot first date.  That could be heaven or hell, whereas I know my date with the Dampfloks of the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen will be heaven.

A year ago, I saw a photo in a colour supplement of a superb large steam engine powering along at night, through pine forests.  Through this I learned that the longest steam railway in Europe is in the Harz Mountains: 140 km of routes, with Wernigerode being a main access town.  And here we are!

Steam buffs reading this will already realise that mountain railways are great, because the engines will be stretched to perform.  Now I’m here, I realise it’s even better.  The HSB route from here, at 230 metres above sea level, actually climbs to the top of the highest mountain in northern Germany, 1125 metres, and in a fairly short distance.

 

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A 2-10-2 tank on the HSB

I’ve come to appreciate the expressive qualities of the German language, but the word for a steam engine, Dampflok is a bit of a damp squib.  However, the engines themselves are superb.  They range from cute small tanks built 1890 and 1918, to massive 2-10-2s built in 1953.

The hot date with the trains surpassed my hopes: partly because the carriages have open verandahs at each end, so you can get the sound, smell and smuts as the engine roars up the gradients.  And the line winds among beautiful forest, with occasional big views.  The scenery is not as magical and dramatic as the Settle and Carlisle, or the Faenza in Italy, but it’s good.

For most maturing men, their favourite steam trains are those on the line they grew up near, so I hope you’ll at least understand why I am finishing this blog with a picture of my favourite engines, the original Bulleid Pacifics, at their prime on the Bournemouth Belle.

The Bournemouth Belle

 

 

 

Bulleid’s Merchant Navy class Number 35030, Elder Dempster lines, with the Bournemouth Belle

 

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This is a private railway, quarter mile long, owned by a guy who bought part of the old track bed near Riccarton Junction in the Borders.

 

Nov 192013
 

David LodgeTherapyNovel

 Therapy: the book by David Lodge

The ‘hero’ of this book is Tubby Passmore, 58: balding, bulging, and thoroughly lost.  Although he’s outwardly successful – well-off, modestly well-known as scriptwriter for a top sitcom, with a steady if dull marriage, Tubby is depressed and confused.

Through the book, we piece together his life story, and share his angst and his varied attempts to resolve it, which include various therapies.  This guy would benefit hugely from Out of the Woods, if he could only find the will to read it.

This story illustrates many of the features of a classic midlife crisis.  In his lostness, Tubby becomes deeply self-obsessed, and this proves the last straw for his wife of thirty years, who demands a separation and insists it’s too late for mediation.

I believe the root of the midlife crisis is spiritual, and Tubby’s case supports this.  Despite being resolutely ‘anti-religious’ since childhood, his first girlfriend is a devout Catholic, and he joins the RC youth club to be with her.  Near the end of the book, he ends up in Santiago de Compostela, and is clearly touched by it.  And his obsession with Kierkegaard brings out the paradox of desiring the spiritual but rejecting the religious.

The first one-third of the book is slow-moving and a bit two-dimensional, but it gathers pace and substance as it goes on.  The section with first-person accounts from the other key characters in the story is superb, and this could be a good tool for anyone wanting to understand their crisis (and its effect on others) more deeply.

Likewise, Tubby’s return to memories of his adolescence is a rich episode which rang true for me.  Part of the healing that can emerge from a midlife crisis is revisiting, reliving, re-framing one’s formative years.

Another feature of the male midlife crisis which Tubby exemplifies is the bizarre things that happen when the immature, often sex-driven impulses of an adolescent are paired with the resources and contacts of a midlife man.  Few teenagers can afford a London pad, a flashy car, or flights to LA to pursue a sexual fantasy, but some midlife men like Tubby can, and the results are often embarrassing.

So, it’s an entertaining, touching, and instructive read.  But if you’re choosing one book about midlife crisis, Out of the Woods is the more practically useful!