Interviews

Psychosexual Problems: The Minds of Sick People

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The Kasur incident where hundreds of children were sexually abused by adults mostly boys shocked us all as a society and for the first time we started thinking about protection of our children against sexual abuse. We thought on the lines of providing sex education to our children so they can protect themselves in the face of such horrible incidents. However, as time distances us from the incident we are more than willing to go back to our comfort zone of pretending that it was a one off incident and will never happen again. The perpetrators were suffering from a disorder called pedophilia -sex with pre-pubertal children and are called pedophiles.

People who indulge in unnatural sexual behaviours need to be dealt with carefully. In our society numerous sexual disorders go unnoticed and untreated, which has many disastrous effects upon victims who suffer in silence in most cases. How many of girls and women have felt discomfort at the hands of those who try to brush their body parts against them in crowded places? I bet 90 percent of Pakistani women and girls have at some point experienced this violation in their lives. A bus ride can become a never ending nightmare if one finds oneself commuting with a person suffering from frotteurism. Frotteurism is a sexual disorder in which people get excited by rubbing the genitalia against people in crowded public places, especially a non consenting person.

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Sadism or sadomasochism means inflicting pain on others and deriving sexual pleasure from the act, while masochism is inducing pain to one’s own self during the act and deriving pleasure from it. It is also a disorder and imagine how easy it is to hide behind the cover of dominance in our society where men have an upper hand and women are trained to suffer all her marital pains and problems in secret. Sadism and masochism are a problem, like any other disorder.

Any sexual behaviour that is carried out with the consent of two adults is not abnormal but falls under the category of adventurism. However, we cannot ignore the severity of the problem, if a woman with her ‘endure till you die’ training, in our patriarchal society ends up with a sadist. She needs to be able to identify the issue and seek help from professionals for it.

Similarly, there are other disorders like fetishism- which means preference for inanimate objects, fetishistic transvestism- wearing clothes of the opposite sex, zoophilia- attraction for animals like sheep, necrophilia- attraction towards dead bodies and many more. It will be wrong to dismiss the reality that all these issues exist in our society and are often reported in the press.

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A recent trip to a far off village in Pakistan revealed to me that zoophilia is common in that area and socially accepted as well. Similarly about necrophilia- most of us must be hearing the word for the first time and will be abhorred by the very concept but there are people in Pakistan who suffer from these disorders. They go unidentified without any support and help all their lives in our society. The actual victims are their unsuspecting partners who can never figure out the real cause of the failure of their marriages and end up blaming themselves.

In the absence of a support mechanism in our country we are left with only one option and that is self education. Self education is such a tricky subject and can be counterproductive at times. Therefore, it is very important to keep an open mind and use the knowledge gained for the benefit of humanity and not to victimise the one suffering from the disorder.

The sexual problems which are psychological in nature rather than physiological are called psychosexual disorders. They arise due to guilt, stress, anxiety resulting in nervousness, worry, fear and depression or from suffering some kind of a physical or emotional trauma like abuse and rape.

In a place like Pakistan most of the psychosexual problems are based in cultural aspects. There is no formal arrangement for sex education of children and there is a conflict of values between sexual feelings during adolescence and family or religious teachings as interpreted by the elders. Imbalance of power and lack of communication in relationships due to patriarchal set up also causes sexual disorders.

Silence over the subject in our society is one of the biggest reasons for it going unchecked and the victims are forced to suffer in silence. They have no clue where to go and whom to approach for redress. They cannot even differentiate between acceptable behaviour and a disorder because nobody ever taught them the difference. Till the government matures enough to handle these delicate issues, the people of this land will have to take matters in their own hands. We will have to try and help those who have nowhere to go for help.

Psychosexual problems can be categorised into three sections: dysfunction, paraphilias and gender identity disorders. Dysfunction is a sexual problem characterised by decreased desire, arousal or orgasm and lack of enjoyment or satisfaction derived from sex. Experiencing pain during sex can also be termed as a dysfunction. Sexual aversion is associated with fear, anxiety and dislike. Impotence, premature ejaculation, inhibited male orgasms and vaginismus (involuntary contraction of the vagina in female) are the visible symptoms of sexual problems. All can be cured if these problems are identified and professional help is sought.

Paraphilias or the disorder of sexual preferences is the unusual sexual behaviour that does not follow the normal standards. Most belonging to this category were discussed in the beginning of this piece. Others include exhibitionism, where exposing the genitals in public places provides sexual excitement and voyeurism, where witnessing others in sexual acts causes arousal. Gender identity disorders exhibit variation between one’s sense of sexual identity and the biological one. The sufferer shows doubt about his or her own sexual orientation, has difficulty adjusting to the normal lifestyle and desires to modify the sexual orientation to become a member of the opposite sex. The first thing to do is to identify correctly a disorder and we would suggest that if you suspect a specific disorder before you convince yourself of your diagnosis make sure you go through the available material on the internet. And if that confirms your suspicion make sure you encourage the person to see a counselor and psychologist for help.

These matters of the brain are very complicated but luckily not life threatening. However, they should not be undermined, as they are crucial in making or breaking relationships and can often result in unlawful activities. They are mostly curable with medication and professional counseling and sometimes all one needs is to love a person enough to help him sort through his/her issues.

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