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REVIEW — Time on Two Crosses: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin

In celebration of black history month.

The proof that one believes is in action. — Bayard Rustin

The proof that one believes is in action. — Bayard Rustin

The best way to destroy a culture is to deny, suppress, or appropriate that people’s history. A culture without its art, without its myths, without its heroes will soon wither and die. For millennia indigenous peoples all over the world have suffered this kind of cultural rape at the hands of more powerful invaders. In America, slavery and segregation did its worst for African culture. And, in a rather different way, homophobia robbed LGBT people of their sense of self.

Do you know who Bayard Rustin is? I’m gonna guess not. That’s no surprise really, because his life exemplifies the impact that both segregation and homophobia has had on our culture. Despite being pivotal to in the struggle for civil and sexual rights for well over 50 years, he is all but forgotten now. His memory has been whitewashed, if not totally wiped out, and our culture is the poorer because of it. But thanks to Time On Two Crosses this American patriot is reinstated to his rightful place in the American pantheon.

Time On Two Crosses showcases the extraordinary career of this black, gay civil rights pioneer. The book combines classic texts ranging in topic from Gandhi’s impact on African Americans, white supremacists in congress, the antiwar movement, and the assassination of Malcolm X, with never-before published selections on the call for gay rights, Louis Farrakhan, affirmative action, AIDS, and women’s rights.Time on Two Crosses

Bayard Rustin was a key civil rights strategist and humanitarian whose staunch advocacy of nonviolent resistance shaped the course of social protests from the 1950’s through the close of the twentieth century. And he was also openly gay at a time when that simply didn’t happen, especially among people of color.

Perhaps because of his unique position at the crux of the struggle for civil rights and sexual rights, Rustin insisted on the interconnectedness of all human rights and justice movements. He focuses not only on overturning racism and prejudice but also the systemic causes of injustice and disparity in the US and around the world. And his message on many issues is as relevant today as it was in his lifetime. He writes of himself:

“I am Bayard Rustin, Chairman of the Randolph Institute and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which is composed of over 150 national groups dedicated to human rights for all. As one who has been active in the struggle to extend democracy to all Americans for over fifty years I am opposed to any attempt to amend the recently enacted law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

I have been arrested twenty-four times in the struggle for civil and human rights. My first arrest was in 1928 merely for distributing leaflets on behalf of Al Smith’s candidacy for President in a climate of anti-Catholic hysteria. Since that time I have fought against religious intolerance, political harassment, and racism both here and abroad. I have fought against untouchability in India, against tribalism in Africa, and have sought to ensure that refugees coming to our shores are not subject to the same types of bigotry and intolerance from which they fled. As a member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council I have fought anti-Semitism not only in the United States but around the world.”

But Rustin’s sexual openness and his controversial political positions came at a great personal cost. He wound up behind bars for practicing his nonviolent Quaker faith (from 1944 to 1946 in a Pennsylvania prison for conscientiously objecting to serving in World War II) and for practicing homosexuality (60 days in a California jail for “sex perversion” in 1953). And his many achievements — like pioneering one of the first Freedom Rides, refusing to give up his seat on a segregated bus in 1942, more than a dozen years before Rosa Parks did, and helping found the Southern Christian Leadership Coalition to support the efforts of a then young, largely unknown minister named Martin Luther King Jr. — often were tainted under the threat of exposure for his unpopular behavior and criminal convictions.

Bayard Rustin introduced Martin Luther King, Jr. to the precepts of nonviolence during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, thereby launching the birth of the Civil Rights Movement in 1955. When that movement needed a man who could get things done, even his detractors acknowledged he was the best organizer in the country. He was the man who was able to turn out 200,000 people on the Capitol Mall in an orderly fashion when no one else had ever done such a thing. He singlehandedly created the blueprint for the modern American mass political rally. The 1963 March on Washington was the pinnacle of his notoriety.

cover of LIFEFew African Americans engaged in as broad a protest agenda as did Rustin; fewer still enjoyed his breadth of influence in virtually every political sector, working with world leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, President Lyndon Johnson, and Golda Meir. Yet, for all his influence and all his tireless efforts, Rustin remained an outsider in black civil rights circles because they refused to accept his homosexuality, which remained a point of contention among black church leaders, a controversy that sometimes even embroiled Dr. King himself.

The very people who he was fighting for shunned him. He was indeed the proverbial prophet “not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house”. (Mark 6:4)

For example, in 1960, Rustin and MLK were preparing to lead a protest of African Americans outside the Democratic National Convention. This would have deeply embarrassed the leading elected black politician of the day, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell. Powell threatened to spread a rumor that Rustin was having a sexual relationship with King. King canceled the protest, and Rustin resigned from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization he helped found. Bayard Rustin felt that his homosexuality, which he never tried to hide, put him in a unique position, a minority within a minority, as it were.

That year was not the first time Rustin was forced to negotiate how much sex could be a part of his life. After his 1953 arrest, in which he’d been picked up with two men in the back seat of a car in Pasadena, California, he wrote, “Sex must be sublimated if I am to live in this world longer.”

Though marginalized by the Civil Rights movement he helped found he was not embittered by the experience. Yet, when one lives in a society in which they’re constantly being told that they’re less than or that they’re not as good as, because of being black, or a Jew, or gay, or anything else deemed less than, a certain amount of the negation is bound to get internalized. That can’t be helped.

Despite it all, Rustin remained upbeat. In 1986, just a year before he died, Rustin gave a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in which he exhorted gay people to “recognize that we cannot fight for the rights of gays unless we are ready to fight for a new mood in the United States, unless we are ready to fight for a radicalization of this society.”

Veering into the economics of poverty, Rustin said, “You will not feed people à la the philosophy of the Reagan administration. Imagine a society that takes lunches from school children. Do you really think it’s possible for gays to get civil rights in that kind of society?”

His thoughtful writing ennobles us all. Rustin never fails to come down on the proper side of a moral or ethical question, no matter whom it may offend or support. He was willing to stand up for people — even though they had mistreated him — if it was a matter of principle.

Rustin’s legacy doesn’t live in the past, but in the present and future of America. His work linking sexual, racial, and economic rights was not only forward-thinking in 1963, but it is also forward-thinking today.

“We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers,” Rustin said in one of his most famous quotes.

Time On Two Crosses is the first comprehensive collection of Bayard Rustin’s writings ever published, comprising forty-eight essays, speeches, and interviews, many of which were never widely available. From the birth of nonviolent direct action to the rise of Black Power, Rustin’s writings function as a road map for the meandering course of the black protest movement over the past century.

As a gay man, I found Bayard Rustin’s writing fascinating and uplifting. They give an unvarnished look into the civil rights movement through the ‘50s and ‘60s, and also a view into the heart and mind of one of the most remarkable men of our time. The book also includes twenty-five photos from the Rustin estate and a foreword by Barack Obama, and an afterword by Barney Frank.

Bayard Rustin is a true hero for the ages. And Time On Two Crosses is a marvelous and edifying read.

Full Review HERE!

An Instructional Guide to Kinks, Fetishes, and the World of BDSM

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This is a guide to various kinks and fetishes that are found in the world of sex. They can be used in your roleplay as your characters turn on’s and turn off’s, or a secret that they have. Or maybe it is something to has shaped them. I have not only discovered various ones and experimented with them personally, but have had exposure to them. Master/Slave RP’s are taking off and I am one of few who will touch on the subject. There is a lot of fear in this world because things can go very VERY wrong very fast. How do I know? I have been there. I have been the observer and the recipient of things going wrong. So this is to help you know and learn about the basics. I will go over some fetishes that are often blown out of proportion and also explain the dynamic of a Dom/sub and Master/slave relationship. I do not claim to be an expert. This is just what I have learned and absorbed from being in the scene for several years.

Now first off this isn’t a way to say “I can do this to someone without asking first” DO NOT EVER DO THAT! No one asks you to do something to them unless they have given you verbal or written permission (That is witnessed) to do the things I will discuss. It is never EVER okay to do this to a man or a woman and anyone who says otherwise has not be in the position where their no’s are not listened.

Kinks are defined as socially acceptable forms of fetishism’s. Where as Fetish is something you worship, fantasize over completely. Both of these are found in the overlapping work of BDSM (Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism). They can vary to the smallest things to the biggest, weirdest things you would ever think of. Almost every town around the world has a community of people who participate in these various acts. The community often meets to talk, hangout and have coffee and throw events for their members. These events include play parties, classes and munches (hanging out in a vanilla setting – vanilla being normal).

The first rule in the community of BDSM, Kink and Fetish is Consent. No matter what it is. You consent with your fellow party(ies) about what is occurring because everything needs to be Safe, Sane and Consensual. You need to establish the basics of what is going to happen, what your limits are (Both soft – so what you aren’t to keen on trying but if you trust your partner enough, you will do it – and hard – so no way in hell you are doing that). You need to establish a signal, be it verbal or physical, to indicate when you need it to stop or change. Often the word Yellow and Red are used and for physical signals, number of blinks or a hand gesture. And you need to express when you do not feel comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable with what is going to be done to you or that you are going to do YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO SAY NO!

That being said! Let us start.

There are many different kinks and fetishes that can be found in the world. These can include simple ones of being tied up, blindfolds, feathers, women (or men) wearing heels, eating food off of one another, biting, hair pulling, uniforms, long hair (or short hair)… the list is long because in truth there are many and I am not going to list them all. Then there are the more complex, more intense ones. These include needle play, CBT, cupping, impact play (This includes paddles, whips, floggers, hair brushes, hands, wooden spoons, canes and any other instrument you can spank with), chastity devices, latex, gagging… again the lists are long.

Impact Play

Impact Play

Impact Play:

  • Impact Play is the use of a hard (or soft) object by the top to strike the bottom repetitively.
  • Instruments that can be used in Impact Play include: Flogger, Cane, Paddle, Whip, Riding Crop, Wooden Spoon, belt, hair brush, hand, etc.
  • Impact play usually occurs on the buttocks and thighs. It is often advised to not strike anywhere that isn’t cushioned with fat. This includes the kidney area, neck, tailbone, hipbones, head and all joints.
  • When using whips, one has to be careful to avoid a wrap around effect. This is when it coils around an appendage and can either cause excessive pain or something more horrible.

 

Sensory Play

Sensory Play

Sensory Play:

  • Sensory Play is limiting one sense to enhance the other senses.
  • Sensory Play includes blind folds, ear muffs/plugs, large boxes over the head, wax, feathers, ice, silk, and anything else that plays with the senses.
  • These can be used often without much worry, though wax can cause burns ans pain at the same time. Sensory play always involves signals, either verbal or physical and the top must respect when the bottom says stop (or red).

 

Restraining:

  • Restraining in kink and BDSM is restricting a limb(s) from movement or use. This includes the arms, feet, legs, hands, neck and whole body if desired.

    bondage003.jpg

    Bondage

  • Items often used in restraining include rope, duct tape, packing tape, industrial roles of saran wrap, vacuum bags, spreaders, chains, bondage tape, ties, long pieces of fabric and anything that can tie have a not tied in it.
  • With rope, there are various ways to it. There is just simple knots and there is also costume style (full body binds). There is also shibari, which is a Japanese form of restraint with rope. Both forms can take loads of time to complete to create beautiful pieces on a man or woman’s body. Costume Style x Shibari Style x
  • When binding with ANYTHING you do not (And I repeat NOT) want to cut of circulation to any area. You want to be able to place two fingers comfortably in between the restraint used and the skin. If you can’t, it is to tight and will eventually lead to the discoloration of skin and numbness and blood flow begins to slow.
  • Some people enjoy having this though but it is ill advised to do because nerve damage can occur.

 

Other Kinks/Fetishes That Need to be Known and Understood:

  • There are many kinks and fetishes in the world but some are not understood as they should be. This is because the media has made them out to be worse than they are or people are not educated enough to understand them. These include: needle play, voyeurism, exhibition, humiliation, role playing (Not like what we do! I will explain…), artistic cutting.
  • Needle Play: Needle play is the use of sterile needles to do artistic works on the human body.
    Needle Play

    Needle Play

    The gauge of the needle varies to what the bottom can handle but usually a gauge between 17 and 20 is used. This is always done in a sterile environment with proper precautions taken. This includes the wearing of gloves, a bin to dispose of the used needles and something for the marks left from the needles. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of this being done to you than you have every right to deny it. Some people enjoy having needles put in to all parts of their body, literally. But you are not expected to do it. And you do not have to observe it either. But to some this is very zen.

  • Voyeurism, Exhibition and Humiliation: I am grouping these together because they often go hand and hand together. Some people do get turned on by doing things in public. Be it having a spanking, walked down the street nude and leashed or, sorry to be so blunt about it, fucked in a public place. People do enjoy this sorta of thing. To many of us this would traumatize us and you have every right to tell the Top that you will not do that.
  • Role playing: Role playing in BDSM is indeed playing out different roles, which might include: Doctor/Nurse, Priest/Nun, Teacher/Student, Doctor/Patient, Guard/Prisoner… really there is no limit to what can occur. This are all sorts of creations that people come up with and it is always between two consenting adults.
  • Artistic Cutting: This is in shape, form or way the same as cutting that people do when they are depressed or that. This is done with a sterile razor or scalpel that is disposed of after and done to create a design drawn out and planned. It tends to permanent so it takes a lot of for thought and decision to do before hand. The top has to take plenty of care not to cut to deep in to the skin in order to keep the nerves and veins safe. It is a very delicate process and, once again, you do not have to do it if you do not feel safe doing it.

Relationship Dynamics:

  • There are various relationship dynamics that can be found in BDSM, Kink, and the Fetish community. A few are as follows:Master/slave or Mistress/Slave
    Dominant/sub or Domme/sub
    Top/Bottom
    Daddy/baby-girl/boy or Mommy/baby-boy/girl
    Owner/pet (This can be a puppy, kitten, pony or whatever else one desires.)
  • All relationships have a contract. This states what the sub/slave/bottom/baby-girl/boy will do and have done to them. But it also stipulates what the Dom/Domme/Master/Mistress/Mommy/Daddy/Top will do for the sub/slave/bottom/baby-girl/boy. Some examples of what would be include in a contract is limits, comfort time, expectations from both sides (weight lose for health, outfits, curfews, etc), safety regulations, etc. Anything to ensure the safety, sanity and respect of BOTH parties is put in to the contracts.
  • Also you will note that I have capitalized the Dominant role and lower case for the submissive
    full out collar

    full out collar

    necklace

    necklace

    role. I don’t know exactly why this is done but in my humble opinion it is because the Dominant role is in charge and has the sense of power while the submissive role is lacking power and has given up control to the Dominant role.

  • Master(Mistress)/slave: This is the most strict relationship that a relationship in the BDSM world has. The Master or Mistress has complete control over what occurs in the slaves life – what is eaten, when and where they sleep, who they see and how often they see these people, where and how money is spent and even chores. Often these relationships are long standing and result in marriage or partnership. The slave however is not the only one who makes a commitment in this relationship. The Master or Mistress agrees to take care of the slave, to help them and comfort them if need be and to protect them. A slave is always wearing a collar. They can be a full out collar, a slim collar, a necklace, a bracelet, or a ring. The giving of one of these items is a very serious ordeal and is often done in a ceremony with friends from the community they are in. The slave wears their collar (or other piece of jewelry that claims they are a slave) 24/7. The also may have multiple collars – one to wear in public, one to be worn at home and one to be worn in play, with a combination of any of these three. They rarely remove it – only if they are showering and the collar is made of leather or if they are changing from an informal one to a formal one.
  • Dom(Domme)/sub: This is the most common relationship dynamic found in the BDSM
    kitty play

    Kitty Play

    puppy play

    Puppy Play

    community from what I have seen. It is similar to a Master/slave relationship but they are not as strict and direct. They also have a contract drawn up with expectations from both sides as well as what the limits are for the submissive. A sub can receive a collar similar to what a slave receives but they are not obligated to wear it all the time. It is only worn in play or at home usually. However, some Doms may seem like they are more of the Master type as they are firm and hard with their submissive and they refer to themselves as a Dom. It is because of how they are in play and not how they come off. Even the hardest man (or woman) may be a sub in truth.

  • Top/bottom: This is the center and general names for people who play. Not every Dom is a Top and not every sub is a bottom. These are merely the positions that are taken in play.
  • The top being the one who does things to the bottom, which usually is involved in any type of play that is done. The Top ensures that all things are safe throughout the entire play session. They are to check on the bottom to ensure that they are okay, that they want to continue on, to ask if they want to take it a step further and to comfort them at the end of the session. The bottom is to tell the top how they feel throughout the whole think. If the bottom at any point wishes to stop and says so by speaking the safe word, than the top must comply. There is no ifs, ands or buts. THE TOP WILL STOP WHEN THE BOTTOM SAYS RED OR WHATEVER SAFE WORD HAS BEEN DESIGNATED TO STOP. The bottom in a sense does have complete control over the session because if they can not do anymore than that is it. The top DOES NOT continue after the safe word is said.

    Pony Play

    Pony Play

  • Daddy/baby-girl/boy or Mommy/baby-boy/girl: This is a softer approach to a BDSM relationship. There is often a lot of cuddling and softer things than what you would find in a Dom/sub relationship. The baby-girl/boy does have expectation to and doesn’t have to wear a collar unless they desire to. It is just a softer dynamic and is in no way related to incest. This is two adults who consent to these roles.
  • Petplay: Petplay involves the taking on an appearance of an animal. The most common ones being puppy, kitty and pony. The animal often has a human owner but in puppy and kitty play, it is possible for both people in the relationship to be the animal, but there is one who is an Alpha. So they take on the Dominant role. There is the costumes and accessories for this sorta of thing available for purchase or you can make your own items.

“But you may ask; why not? I am the Top. The Dom. A true Master.” Really? Cram it! And if I hear you say that again I will take a book to your head to beat some sense in to you! There is no true Master or true Dom. Safety is key and if you can not respect that then you should be reprimanded by everyone and anyone. No matter the dynamic, you take care of one another because that is what a good relationship does. Nurture the relationship and let this guide aid you in creating a good SAFE dynamic between you and others.

If anyone wishes for me to expand on anything, just ask. Maybe I will do a guide with just one thing or another. This is just a summery.

Complete Article HERE!

Sexual Frustration Reigns

Hello Dr. Dick

First time question to you. I’m sure you’ve probably heard this one a million times, but I could use some advice 🙂

I married my best friend. Sex has never been frequent or great. Most of the time he finishes in less than five minutes of penetration and I rarely if ever get to orgasm. The first and last time I think I did have an orgasm I think was the day we conceived our little girl.

He’s a great guy in all other aspects, but when it comes to the bedroom, it doesn’t happen. I’ve tried seducing him (which he responds to eagerly, finishes and then rolls over and goes to sleep), tried asking if we could try different things (different has ended up being one of two positions – missionary and woman on top – he does not like and will not do anything else). He also does not want to and won’t do stimulation with his hands or anything else for that matter. He also does not like or want toys in the bedroom, for him or me.

Any ideas on how I can convert him into a wife pleaser? I’m at my wits end. Last time I seduced him to get some “cock” in me was two months ago and needless to say I didn’t get any satisfaction. For the first time though I took care of things myself and at least I slept without really resenting him 🙂

I’ve been trying to not care, but I’ve found out I’m a very passionate woman who only gets more passionate with time… and with those needs not being met, I’m wondering if it’s the end? Can people be happy without sex? I haven’t found a way to yet but if you know of something, please let me know.

Anyway, if you have a chance to respond to my ramblings it would be appreciated… even if you have some insight into his actions/non-actions it would be greatly appreciated.

Coral

You’re right; I have heard this a million times.

sexual frustrationI’m gonna spare you the niceties and get right t the point, Coral. Your husband is clearly not up to the task of being your lover. His behaviors and his disinterest in finding a solution to the problem you have together tells me that he is a selfish lout. And how in the world can he be your best friend. Best friends don’t behave like this.

Let me put it to you another way. If you were writing to me to tell me that your husband hordes all the food in the house to himself. That he has you feed him till he is satisfied, but offers you only crumbs to sustain you. And that he won’t even negotiate you getting the food you need to survive and sustain yourself. What do you think I would say about that?

I suppose you see where I’m going with that, right? Listen, you oughtn’t be beggin’ for shit that is rightfully yours.

I have one real simple premise that I live by. And that is, each of us has a right to a happy, healthy, integrated sex life. If there is something that is getting in the way of achieving that, whatever it might be, it is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

As far as relationships go, I am of the mind that we ought, first and foremost, work to honor our commitments of fidelity and mutual support. Are there ways that these two moral principles — a right to a healthy sex life and one’s relationship commitments — can coexist when one’s relationship excludes the possibility of happy sexual expression? Yes, I believe there are. And many couples achieve this balance, because they have an overriding love and concern for one another.

Now the facts — not all loving relationship have a sexual component. Many, for one reason or another, simply don’t. But if a partner is unwilling to provide sexual satisfaction to his/her partner and he won’t even begin negotiate an amicable solution or other accommodations then, I believe, this a form of sexual abuse.factors-of-sexual-dissatisfaction

If what you report about your husband’s distaste for anything sexually adventurous is accurate, then you have a very hard row to hoe. (BTW,are mutually enjoyed sex toys in the bedroom all that adventurous these days?) Trying to negotiate a satisfactory solution to a problem is all the more difficult when your partner is opposed to even discussing the issue. Here’s what I suggest. Have a frank talk with the bonehead. Tell him, in no uncertain terms, that he has first right of refusal to you and your long-suffering naughty bits. If he isn’t interested in keeping you sexually satisfied, that means the door is open for you to get your groove on elsewhere. If he balks at that, stand your ground. Insist that he has just the two options of taking it or leaving it.

If this means the end of this relationship, as I suspect it might. Then have the spine to make a clean break of it. Because, if you don’t, then you are complicit in the abuse you are suffering.

Good luck

Sexuality at the End of Life

By Anne Katz RN, PhD

In the terminal stages of the cancer trajectory, sexuality is often regarded as not important by health care providers. The need or ability to participate in sexual activity may wane in the terminal stages of illness, but the need for touch, intimacy, and how one views oneself don’t necessarily wane in tandem. Individuals may in fact suffer from the absence of loving and intimate touch in the final months, weeks, or days of life.head:heart

It is often assumed that when life nears its end, individuals and couples are not concerned about sexual issues and so this is not talked about. This attitude is borne out by the paucity of information about this topic.

Communicating About Sexuality with the Terminally Ill

Attitudes of health care professionals may act as a barrier to the discussion and assessment of sexuality at the end of life.

  • We bring to our practice a set of attitudes, beliefs and knowledge that we assume applies equally to our patients.
  • We may also be uncomfortable with talking about sexuality with patients or with the idea that very ill patients and/or their partners may have sexual needs at this time.
  • Our experience during our training and practice may lead us to believe that patients at the end of life are not interested in what we commonly perceive as sexual. How often do we see a patient and their partner in bed together or in an intimate embrace?
  • We may never have seen this because the circumstances of hospitals and even hospice may be such that privacy for the couple can never be assured and so couples do not attempt to lie together.

intimacy-320x320For the patient who remains at home during the final stages of illness the scenario is not that different. Often the patient is moved to a central location, such as a family or living room in the house and no longer has privacy.

  • While this may be more convenient for providing care, it precludes the expression of sexuality, as the patient is always in view.
  • Professional and volunteer helpers are frequently in the house and there may never be a time when the patient is alone or alone with his/her partner, and so is not afforded an opportunity for sexual expression.

Health care providers may not ever talk about sexual functioning at the end of life, assuming that this does not matter at this stage of the illness trajectory.

  • This sends a very clear message to the patient and his/her partner that this is something that is either taboo or of no importance. This in turn makes it more difficult for the patient and/or partner to ask questions or bring up the topic if they think that the subject is not to be talked about.

Sexual Functioning At The End Of Life

Factors affecting sexual functioning at the end of life are essentially the same as those affecting the individual with cancer at any stage of the disease trajectory. These include:go deeper

  • Psychosocial issues such as change in roles, changes in body- and self-image, depression, anxiety, and poor communication.
  • Side effects of treatment may also alter sexual functioning; fatigue, nausea, pain, edema and scarring all play a role in how the patient feels and sees him/herself and how the partner views the patient.
  • Fear of pain may be a major factor in the cessation of sexual activity; the partner may be equally fearful of hurting the patient.

The needs of the couple

Couples may find that in the final stages of illness, emotional connection to the loved one becomes an important part of sexual expression. Verbal communication and physical touching that is non-genital may take the place of previous sexual activity.

  • Many people note that the cessation of sexual activity is one of the many losses that result from the illness, and this has a negative impact on quality of life.
  • Some partners may find it difficult to be sexual when they have taken on much of the day-to-day care of the patient and see their role as caregiver rather than lover.
  • The physical and emotional toll of providing care may be exhausting and may impact on the desire for sexual contact.
  • In addition, some partners find that as the end nears for the ill partner, they need to begin to distance themselves. Part of this may be to avoid intimate touch. This is not wrong but can make the partner feel guilty and more liable to avoid physical interactions.

Addressing sexual needs

senior intimacyCouples may need to be given permission to touch each other at this stage of the illness and health care providers may need to consciously address the physical and attitudinal barriers that prevent this from happening.

  • Privacy issues need to be dealt with. This includes encouraging patients to close their door when private time is desired and having all levels of staff respect this. A sign on the door indicating that the patient is not to be disturbed should be enough to prevent staff from walking in and all staff and visitors should abide by this.
  • Partners should be given explicit permission to lie with the patient in the bed. In an ideal world, double beds could be provided but there are obvious challenges to this in terms of moving beds into and out of rooms, and challenges also for staff who may need to move or turn patients. Kissing, stroking, massaging, and holding the patient is unlikely to cause physical harm and may actually facilitate relaxation and decrease pain.
  • The partner may also be encouraged to participate in the routine care of the patient. Assisting in bathing and applying body lotion may be a non-threatening way of encouraging touch when there is fear of hurting the patient.

Specific strategies for couples who want to continue their usual sexual activities can be suggested depending on what physical or emotional barriers exist. Giving a patient permission to think about their self as sexual in the face of terminal illness is the first step. Offering the patient/couple the opportunity to discuss sexual concerns or needs validates their feelings and may normalize their experience, which in itself may bring comfort.

More specific strategies for symptoms include the following suggestions. senior lesbians

  • Timing of analgesia may need to altered to maximize pain relief and avoid sedation when the couple wants to be sexual. Narcotics, however, can interfere with arousal which may be counterproductive.
  • Fatigue is a common experience in the end stages of cancer and couples/individuals can be encouraged to set realistic goals for what is possible, and to try to use the time of day when they are most rested to be sexual either alone or with their partner.
  • Using a bronchodilator or inhaler before sexual activity may be helpful for patients who are short of breath. Using additional pillows or wedges will allow the patient to be more upright and make breathing easier.
  • Couples may find information about alternative positions for sexual activity very useful.
  • Incontinence or the presence of an indwelling catheter may represent a loss of control and dignity and may be seen as an insurmountable barrier to genital touching.

footprints-leftIt is important to emphasize that there is no right or wrong way of being sexual in the face of terminal illness; whatever the couple or individual chooses to do is appropriate and right for them. It is also not uncommon for couples to find that impending death draws them much closer and they are able to express themselves in ways that they had not for many years.

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Family History and Addiction Risk: What You Need to Know to Beat the Odds

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You grew up in a family of substance users. You know that your risk for developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol is greater because of this hereditary factor. But what exactly are your risks? And is there anything you can do to reduce your risk?

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the single most reliable indicator for risk of future alcohol or drug dependence is family history. In an article written for NCADD, Robert Morse, MD, former Director of Addictive Disorders Services at the Mayo Clinic and member of NCADD’s Medical/Scientific Committee, says, “Research has shown conclusively that family history of alcoholism or drug addiction is in part genetic and not just the result of the family environment…millions of Americans are living proof. Plain and simple, alcoholism and drug dependence run in families.”

How Family History Affects your Chances for Addiction

Family history affects your chances of addiction in many ways. Genes are one important factor. But alcoholism and drug addiction are “genetically complex.”

Recent research has identified numerous genes, and variations within these genes, that are 005associated with the addictive process. One way genes affect a person’s risk for addiction involves how genes metabolize alcohol. Another is how nerve cells signal one another and regulate their activity. Such changes in genes can be passed down from one generation to another.

Perhaps the strongest evidence for heredity’s role in addiction comes from twin studies and adoption studies. Studies of twins found a 60% rate of similarity regarding addiction in identical twins vs. a 39% rate of similarity in fraternal twins. Studies of children adopted in infancy and studied for addiction risk in adulthood found that biological sons of alcoholics were four times more likely to become alcoholics, even when the adoptive parent had no issues with addiction, so the l factor of family environment was minimal.

But genetic predispositions are not the only factor in predicting the role of family history in addiction risk. Environmental aspects also play a role, even though they may be less significant in some cases.

Researchers have identified several family-related risks for increased vulnerability:

  • Family dysfunction (conflicts or aggression)
  • A parent who is depressed or has other psychological issues
  • One or more parents who abuses or is addicted to drugs or alcohol

Additional social and personal issues that contribute to risk include:

  • Limited social skills
  • Fragile self-esteem
  • Minimal or no support system
  • Personal history of impulsivity, aggression or difficulty managing emotions
  • A history of trauma or abuse (high risk for post traumatic stress)
  • Other psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety or bi-polar disorder
  • Friends or acquaintances who are regular users and who provide easy access to drugs or alcohol

Addressing and Reducing Risks

An alternative viewpoint regarding a family history link for addiction comes from a National Institute of Health (NIH) meta-study of 65 published papers documenting 766 study participants who were college or university students. Controlling for alcohol consumption and use disorders, family history was reviewed as the variable. The meta-study found that students who had family histories of alcohol or drug problems did not drink more but they were likely to be more at risk for problems that are associated with drug or alcohol use (ex: causing shame or embarrassment to someone; passing out or fainting; or having problems with school).

The bottom line is that there are still a lot of uncertainties when it comes to assessing drug and alcohol risks as they relate to family history. The good news is that even if you come from a family with a troubled history, or a history of addictions, that does not mean you will automatically become an addict. The risk is higher, but there are ways to prevent that from happening. You can choose to be proactive and greatly reduce your addiction risk.

Here are a few suggestions to reduce your addiction risk:

  • Avoid under-age drinking or substance use; early-onset of use increases risk
  • Choose abstinence or carefully monitor your consumption
  • Avoid associating with heavy drinkers or substance users
  • Manage your psychological health; seek assistance from a mental health provider if you are highly stressed, anxious or depressed
  • Participate in workplace or school prevention programs

Intervention Strategies

Should you already find yourself dealing with an alcohol or drug issue, here are some intervention strategies provided by the National Institute of Health, in their publication, Alcohol Alert:

  • Motivational Interview: This strategy focuses on enhancing your motivation and commitment to changing your behavior, if you are currently abusing drugs or alcohol. Typically you would work with an addictions counselor or mental health professional and discuss your beliefs, choices and behaviors associated with substance use. The purpose of the interview is to help you develop a realistic view of your use, problems associated with it and your treatment goals and expectations.
  • Cognitive–Behavioral Interventions: These strategies are taught by a counselor or therapist, or they can sometimes can be accessed via an online self-help program. They help you change your behavior by helping you recognize when and why you drink excessively or use illegal substances. Cognitive-behavioral approaches challenge irrational expectations about substance use and raise your awareness of how drugs or alcohol affect your health and well-being. They provide tools for mentally and emotionally addressing denial, resistance, self-criticism and shame.
  • Drug-Free Workplace programs: Many workplaces now help their employees who are abusing alcohol or drugs. Lifestyle campaigns encourage workers to ease stress, improve nutrition and exercise, and reduce risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, or drug use. Other programs promote social support and volunteerism. Many Employee Assistance Programs offer employees referrals to substance abuse or other treatment programs, and may help pay for treatment.

Remember, the risk for alcohol and drug addiction does run in families. But you can manage the risk and avoid an addiction problem in your own life. Be proactive in monitoring your substance use, manage your mental and emotional health and seek support if you need it. The final outcome will depend on you and the choices you make today, not on your history.
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