THE SPIRIT OF SEXUAL HEALTH:
BEYOND THE POLITICS OF 'PERFORMANCE'

Gina Ogden, Ph.D.

This paper describes a ten-year journey into sex research. It grew organically from questions women were asking in my clinical practice about the unmeasurable facts of sexual response--the sense that true eroticism involves far more than the body; that it resides in the links between physical sensation and spiritual energies such as love, compassion, altruism, empathy, and awe--that make physical excitement delicious, meaningful, and sometimes life-transforming.

I found that there had never been a national survey conducted on sexuality and spirituality. Fifty years of sex-survey research, beginning with the 1948 and 1953 Kinsey Reports, had established norms about sex that were almost exclusively performance oriented- with intercourse and orgasm heading the list. All of these norms can be counted and measured, but none of them takes into account the issues that my clients said were so vital to their sexual pleasure and well-being: safety, communication, empathy, intimacy, and the spiritual connections inherent in sexual desire and satisfaction. I undertook to create a survey centered on these issues.

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