I recently posted an article from The That New York Times that had to do with a study measuring the frequency of sex in relation to enthusiasm, energy and well-being. Having given more thought inspired me to make a few more comments. As you may know, Sigmund Freud and his model, employed sexual instincts. He believed that there may body areas capable of producing stimulation and that each is a potential source of instinctual energy. However, he reduced instincts into two fundamental groups-the life and the death instincts. Life instincts are about reproduction in life maintenance and he identified sexual instincts as being a major component in his theory; but sexual instincts are related to those [bodily areas] which are pleasurable. His definition of sexual instincts is much greater than simply intercourse alone .And, further Freud also identified psychopathology issues related to the sex instinct. And it’s safe to say, his hydraulic model of tension-reduction [the libido] is the centerpiece of the psychic energy in his psychoanalytic-science of the mind model of man.
Researchers, Masters and Johnson, a number of years ago, studied, in the laboratory, sex and sexual response. They identified the human sexual response cycle as-excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. They believed that a partner can initiate sex for reasons aside from excitement, arousal, and that may precede desire.
So in the current research study, the investigators hypothesized that more sex would be equated with being more happy, having more enthusiasm and more energy thus greater well-being. First of all, they hypothesized that more intercourse would lead to a better emotional state, along with a more physical energy. We know that thinking and emotions are related. And that one’s emotional state is brought into any situation, especially having to do with intercourse. This means that our emotional makeup affects how we think, as well as our behavior, especially with other people. For instance, if the partners fully enjoyed having sex with each other, then it is likely by having more sex their expectations would be very different from those that only had sex about once per week. I’ll bet if we were employing sexual expectations as an intervening variable, we would have different and more positive results. Further, these researchers used a questionnaire to measure so-called mood and behavior. Remember, those individuals that had sex once per week qualified for the study. Perhaps, keeping track of sex relations on a weekly basis is likely a sign of discontent. All in all, did the measuring tool, in the study, effectively evaluate mood and/or physical state? In other words, was this instrument valid, as well as reliable?
We also know the following: 1. That the time between intercourse and filling out a questionnaire is critical, especially if both partners like each other; are mutually agreeable about having sex and want to please each other [with or without orgasm]; do not have either mental , and/or physical distractions. Further, what meaning and importance does each person have about sex in their relationship-frequency or number of times and what mental, emotional state are they bringing psychologically to their partner before, during and after the sexual encounter? 2. We know the act of sex is a physiological response. Can it be tension reducing as well as tension inducing between the two people? Yes, individuals can have sex without love. 3. After sex and orgasm, depending upon age, relationship length, environmental conditions, alcohol, and or drugs, when individuals feel safe, tired, relaxed and an absence of tension are intervening variables. If someone is filling out a questionnaire at that time, their responses will likely be very different than 12 hours later. Feelings, mood and psychological states can rapidly change and do rapidly change over time. So the time, in which a questionnaire is administered is critical. Likely, even though the researchers think they were measuring mood, they were likely measuring thoughts and/or attitude about their partner as well as themselves. We know that, individuals distort their own reality in various ways. The idea of defense mechanisms illustrate that point. Further, individuals have great difficulty identifying feelings and often use the word “I feel,” in a sentence, but in error. They think they’re talking about their feelings when there really illustrating their thoughts. Even basic emotions such as anger, disgust, fear, sadness and joy are difficult for people to admit, let alone label correctly.
I’m really not sure what these researchers measured and likely they mixed up mood and physical energy even though they called it by such names as happy, enjoyable, enthusiasm, well-being and energy. What was perfectly clear from the study was that only 40% or 12 of the 32 couples actually increased the frequency of sex over a 90 day period. And that a number of couples didn’t like deviating from their sexual routine and said that more was not better, but worse. I certainly would like to interview those couples to hear more of the story.
Neither Freud nor Masters and Johnson have told the entire sex story, but they certainly provided a super start and terrific framework. Remember, one can have sex without love, as well as love without sex-that’s another story. To be fair, I did not read the original study In the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, and perhaps some of these criticisms were addressed.