Tag Archives: Sex Therapist

Review: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

Hey sex fans!

I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents this site will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar to your right and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, (Part 1 is HERE! And Part 1 is HERE!) you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. It’s the story of a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.  He contacts a professional surrogate partner with the help of his therapist and priest. Ms. Hunt plays Cheryl, the surrogate partner in the movie

Cheryl also contributed a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder and dying people for my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.

With all that as a preface, I now offer you Cheryl’s own story: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner. The first thing I want to say is this book is it’s not a clinical or technical tome. It is an easily accessible memoir. And that, to my mind, is what makes it so fascinating.

She writes in the Introduction:An Intimate Life

I started this work in 1973, and my journey to it spans our society’s sexual revolution and my own. I grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a time when sex education was—to put it mildly— lacking. As I educated myself, I found that most of what I had been taught about sex was distorted or wrong. The lessons came from the playground, the church, and the media. My parents could barely talk about sex, much less inform me about it.

What follows is a candid and often funny look into the personal and professional life of a woman on the cutting edge of our culture’s movement toward sexual wellbeing.

Cheryl comes out of her conservative Catholic upbringing and her often tortured family dynamics with what one would expect—her own sexual awakenings as well as the conspiracy of ignorance and repression that wanted to stifle it. This is a common story, the story of so many of us.

Starting when I was around ten, I masturbated and brought myself to orgasm nearly every night. … If my nights began with anxiety, my days began with guilt. I became convinced that every earache, every toothache, every injury was God punishing me. … I couldn’t escape his gaze or his wrath. Sometimes I imagined my guardian angel looked away in disgust as I touched myself and rocked back and forth in my bed.

The miracle here is that this troubled tween would blossom into the remarkable sexologist she is today.

rsz_1greenecherylSome of the chapters in her book describe one or another of her hands on therapeutic encounters as a surrogate partner, but equally important and compelling are the chapters that describe Cheryl’s own sexual struggles as she moved to adulthood and beyond. Cheryl’s acceptance of her own sexuality enables her to build a career out of helping others do the very same thing.

Everyone has a right to satisfying, loving sex, and, in my experience, that most often flows from strong communication, self-respect, and a willingness to explore.

Despite the frank discussion of sexual topics within the book, there is no prurience or sensationalism. For the most part, Cheryl’s clients are regular people, mostly men, who have pretty ordinary problems—erection and/or ejaculation concerns, dating difficulties, as well as self-esteem, guilt and shame issues. Cheryl helps each of her clients with the efficiency and confidence of the world-class sex educator she is. Most of her interaction involves her supplying her clients with some much-needed information, dispelling myths, and giving them permission to experiment. As she says;

I continue to be amazed at how solid education delivered without judgment can eradicate much of the guilt and shame that turns life in the bedroom into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

Her most famous client, Mark O’Brien, the 36-six-year-old man who had spent most of his life in an iron lung after contracting polio at age 6, was the author of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence, in which he writes about his experience with Cheryl. This, of course, was adapted into a film, The Sessions, which I mentioned above. For her part, Cheryl delivers a most poignant remembrance of Mark early in her book.

I explained Sensual Touch to Mark. Although he was paralyzed, he still had sensation all over his body, so he would feel my hands moving up and down. … I encouraged him to try and recognize four common reactions: feeling neutral, feeling nurtured, feeling sensual and feeling sexual.

An Intimate Life chronicles Cheryl’s life-long interest in human sexuality. Her life and sometimes-turbulent loves are on display, but in the most considerate fashion. She teaches by example. She’s even able to speak with great compassion of her time living with and through cancer.

As I inch toward seventy, I appreciate more and more how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I’ve been. I was lucky to find a wonderful career and to be surrounded by so many smart, adventurous, caring people. My personal sexual revolution auspiciously paralleled our culture’s, and in many ways was made possible by it. I am eternally grateful to the pioneers, rebels, and dreamers who made our society a little safer for women who embrace their sexuality.

There is so much I loved about this book, but mostly it’s the humanity I found in abundance. Cheryl’sdr.-cheryl-cohen-greene enlightened soul shines brightly from every page. Her no nonsense approach to all things sexual is an inspiration. And her perseverance to bring surrogate partner therapy into the mainstream is laudable.

…what separates surrogates from prostitutes is significant. When people have difficulties grasping [that], I turn to my beloved and late friend Steven Brown’s cooking analogy that I’ve so often relied on to help me through that question: Seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant. Seeing a surrogate is like going to culinary school.

Finally, An Intimate Life is the culmination of Cheryl’s life as a sex educator, her surrogate partner therapy practice being just part of that mission. I highly recommend you read this book. You will, I assure you, come away from it as I have, a better person—enriched, informed, as well as entertained.

Cheryl, thank you for being in my life and being such an abiding inspiration. Thank you too for this marvelous book; now you can be in the lives of so many others who need you so that you can inspire them along their way.

Be sure to visit Cheryl on her site HERE!

Tricks Of The Trade – Part 2

Today I continue the series I started on Monday.  You will remember from Monday that a friend of mine, who is writing a book about male sexuality for women, asked me if I could be her go-to-guy for a bunch of questions she had about pleasuring a man which she wants to include in her book. I think it is only fair that you, my loyal audience, should get this information before anyone else does.

PORN SECRETS

What are some porn industry secrets to keeping men harder longer while shooting a film? I assume they use editing tricks (like repeating the same shots over and over), Viagra (or other ED drugs). Do they still use fluffers? What else?

Yes, editing, lots and lots of editing!

But nowadays, it’s “better living though chemistry!” No, fluffers are no longer necessary. Pity!

Loads of guys use CAVERJECT.  This will give a guy 8 hours of wood, regardless what he is doing. He could watch his mother get hit by a train and he would still have a boner. As you can imagine, this has nothing to do with being aroused, it’s simply a matter of circulatory mechanics. It’s just one more thing that’s faked in the industry.

For the rest of us mere mortals, I always suggest the use of a cockring. Be sure to check out my tutorial: Cockring Crash Course HERE!

SEX GUILT

I will be discussing sex guilt and its repercussions. As a former Catholic priest, we’re sure you’ve dealt with your fair share of sex guilt either in yourself, your penitents, or your current sex therapy clients.

Yep, in all three!guilt-and-shame

What are some reasons behind sex guilt?

The truth is, there is very little sex related guilt without the accompanying shame. In my opinion, the shame comes first. Someone or some institution instills the sense of shame for the behavior; the individual experiences guilt when he/she engages in the shamed behavior. And, mind you, this stigmatized behavior could be anything from masturbation or eating pork.

How does sex guilt manifest itself?

In many different ways. It’s such a personal experience. For most people guilt reinforces and internalizes the shame that was engendered by someone or some institution outside of the person. (See my comment above.) A common response to sex guilt is hiding, suppressing thoughts and feelings, denying thoughts and feelings, avoiding triggers, or just shutting down. Others punish themselves, which can engender a vicious cycle self-hatred.

However, the most pernicious form of guilt actually reinforces the behavior. Here’s how that works. I do something I’m ashamed of; I feel a deep sense of guilt; then I punish myself for my transgression. This in turn makes the behavior all that more seductively attractive to me, which makes me do the behavior again, all so that I can punish myself again. And, as you can see, the punishment, not the pleasure, becomes the reward. It’s all really very insidious.

How can one overcome their guilt about sex acts?

One starts by unraveling the system that instilled the shame in the first place. One goes back to the source of the shame — church, parents, etc. He/she tries to understand the reason why the shaming was done — protect the sanctity of the body, a means of controlling human urges, etc. Then one demythologizes the shaming. Without shame there’s little to no guilt.

Have you heard these statements and how would you respond to someone who is dealing with these specific issues:
1. A women who go down on a guy is a whore.

I would help the individual see that statements like this are made by people who don’t believe that women should enjoy sex; they shouldn’t be active participants. Sex is for procreation, not pleasure. There’s only one way to have sex—particularly for women—they should be unengaged and passive receptacles, nothing more.cordially invited

2. Men who go down on women are unmanly.

I would help the individual see that this kind of statement is made by people who are trapped in a perverse sex-role stereotype. I mean, who gets to determine what is manly and what isn’t? The one who makes this determination wins the debate, right? Each individual ought to get to decide what is manly, womanly. There is no artificial norm.

3. Anal sex (between straight people) is wrong/dirty/gay.

I would help the individual try to take apart that statement. Wrong? Does that mean there’s a right way? Who gets to determine that? Dirty? Are some parts of the body more wholesome than others? Whose prejudices are at work here? Gay? Why must we demonize this particular class of people? Where do the phobic reactions to same sex behaviors come from? Are they legitimate things to be feared, or are they culturally induced? If they are culturally induced, what was the original motivation? See my response to your question: How can one overcome their guilt about sex acts?

4. The lady/whore complex that straight men may entertain.

Someone set up this dichotomy long before any particular modern straight man bought into it. Who set it up? And why did they set it up? At who’s expense? Who’s sexuality do they fear? Does preserving the male privilege have anything to do with it?

5. Pornography is evil/degrading/terrifying/wrong.

Again, why evil? That’s a throwback to an outmoded cosmology, right? And even if someone decided there is dirty magazinessuch a thing as evil, who gets to decide what evil is? What was evil 100 years ago, or in a different culture, may not be considered evil today, or in another culture. This suggests to me that “evil” is not a universal, but culturally determined. Again, who gets to determine that? And whose prejudices are at work when the determinations are being made? Degrading? Sure, porn can be degrading, but so can working at Walmart! If it is consensual and free of coercion, can it be degrading? And if porn is degrading why is it that we are not as concerned about all the other things that degrade human kind? Terrifying? I think comb-overs are terrifying. Wrong? (See evil above.)

ANAL SEX

Some people argue that the anus can suffer damage and begin to leak with too much anal penetration. Is there any biological basis behind this? Or is it just another “myth”?

Sure, one can injure him/herself with irresponsible penetrations of any orifice. But what is “too much” penetration, anyhow?

Any butt pirate, from the rank amateur to the power bottom, knows the importance of keeping their pelvic musculature in tiptop, no pun intended, shape. This is where Kegel exercises come in handy. Strong and toned PC muscles (pubococcygeus muscle) will allow you to enjoy ass fucking for a lifetime without the heartbreak of springing a leak.

PART 1 of this series HERE!   PART 3 of this series HERE!

Best Products Of 2013 Show — Podcast #404 — 01/29/14


Hey sex fans,

I have a very special podcast in store for you today. In fact it’s so unique it’s unprecedented. And all of it is on account of a woman named Christie. The gist of it is we’re gonna hear from the Dr Dick Review Crew as they count down their Best Adult Products of 2013 list.sexual fantasies

Now of course, anyone who visits either one of my sites on a regular basis will know that we posted this list back on December 27, 2013. The thing is, as we learn from Christie, not everyone who is interested in our reviews is able to visit our site; thus this podcast edition, don’t cha know.

Finally, we have a tie for Best Product or Toy for Men

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Sex Advice and Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Review.

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

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