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Modern thinking on sexuality suggests that there is no normal. Modern research suggests that there is an infinite range of human responses when it comes to sexuality. The concept of perversion is outdated and being replaced with the label of neosexuality, which provides more positive connotations and takes into consideration a wider range of human experiences when considering a person’s mental health and their sexual relationship to the larger world. Dr. David Salvage, psychoanalysis expert based in New York City and Brooklyn, explores this update in the humanistic psychotherapy methodology.

  • It’s widely appreciated as the work of sexologists Masters and Johnson’s has expanded that there is an infinite range of human responses, and so there is no one normal. Sexuality was once considered perverse if arousal and excitement were associated with acts outside of society’s definition of typical or usual. But more modern research suggests that there is no normal when it comes to sexuality. Human experiences and responses are varied and infinite; there can be no one universal label for sexual behavior.
  • Sexuality isn’t considered pathological unless it’s nonconsensual. Consenting adults participating in consensual sexual acts—even ones that were once considered perverse—aren’t pathological or acting because of mental distress. Rather, the only sexual acts that can be labeled pathological are cases of rape or when they are forced.
  • Under Freud and early psychoanalytic thinking, sexuality was felt to be the bedrock of conflict. While sex is certainly important, a more modern humanistic psychology takes into account a myriad number of other factors in considering how well adjusted someone is. Environment, culture, genetics, education and more all are factors that play into a person’s relationship with their mental health and sexual feelings. The concept of neosexuality takes these elements into consideration when understanding an individual’s relationship to sex and their preferences.

The label of perversion is no longer assigned to every sexual act outside the norm of society. Sex is only pathological if it is nonconsensual, making a broader range of preferences considered normal. Neosexuality takes this broad range of consensual sexual behavior into consideration and so it is the preferred concept in today’s world of psychoanalysis.

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