Was reading a weird article about the brain & sex, spotted something that might apply to abuse???

Ok, so there’s this article on abcnews.com: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/dirty-minds-kayt-sukel-learns-orgasm-mri-machine/story?id=15334378

It’s about orgasm and the brain. What they saw in MRI’s and some other scientific stuff about sex and the brain. That’s not the part that caught my interest.

It was weird reading but when I got to the second page of the article, they started talking about what happens to the brain when the genitals are stimulated. There were some details about what parts of the brain are involved that immediately made me think about sexual abuse, stimulation during abuse, and various kinds of memory. I’m going to paste the part I’m talking about here:

Stimulation of the genitals triggers a cluster of nerve activity that moves to the sensory cortex in the brain, and then on to various parts of the limbic system. Most immediately activated are the amygdala, which controls emotion and heart rate; the hippocampus, which controls memory and fantasy; and the cerebellum, which controls deep muscle tension.

Next, the frontal cortex, which controls executive function, is activated, and then the hypothalamus, releasing oxytocin, and some other areas before “everything cools down,” he said.

Powerful endorphins are also activated that raise a person’s pain threshold. In both men and women, orgasm works roughly the same way, said Komisaruk.

I found this interesting in terms of sexual abuse. Isn’t a lot of what we deal with related to emotions, physical responses, memory, fantasy, muscle reactions, pain etc?

If being stimulated while being abused would have caused physiological responses that got stored in memory, then doesn’t that make any feeling memories, or flashbacks or other responses a validation of what happened to us? Does this mean that we don’t have to rely solely on exact visual memory and we can put stock in these other feelings as well?

I’m curious about any thoughts you guys might have about this.


About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in Child Molestation, DID, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Sexual Abuse and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Was reading a weird article about the brain & sex, spotted something that might apply to abuse???

  1. NullFuture says:

    Short answer? Yes.

    Long answer? The psychological link between memories of abuse and the physiological reaction to stimuli can be a very strong one. As such, if the stimuli is repeated later on then the psychological memories will resurface.

    Course, the problem with this is that normal behavioural logic dictates that in order to dissociate the stimuli from the memories, you have to link the stimuli with other psychological memories.

    In short, you’ve got to have sex.

    As I said in another quote, life isn’t quite that simple. If you were to commit to sex then it would have to be good sex, satisfying, affectionate, probably with you in the driving seat (this is a generalised you btw, not singling out anybody). If you can commit to this then in theory, whilst it will never completely dissipate, it can overcome the very negative memories.

    What do you think?

    • CimmarianInk says:

      I know what you mean. My therapist believes that I need to reinforce good thoughts and feelings in connection to intimacy with my husband to change my reactions. She wants me to learn that our relationship is different in every way so that eventually, I don’t get triggered as much. So yea, basically what you said: gotta have sex lol.

      It’s complicated sometimes though of course. I think what I was looking at in the article was especially about memory. Since I have, what my therapist terms, “feeling memories”, I need a basis for accepting those as valid and I haven’t been able to do that yet. When reading the article and reading about the connection to stimulation and memory and bodily reactions etc. it made me wonder if I can accept those “feeling memories” now.

      I’m not exactly ready to, but it gave me something to think about.

  2. Freasha1964 says:

    This totally makes sense, Ci. That is why it is to me so horrid that abusers like your uncle not only took what that was not theirs, but they caused future sex with a loving partner to be tainted. And if you ask several of my friends, they live for sex. It is supposed to be a great joy, and it most often is. Nullfuture probably makes a great point. You can drown out the original association by having sex numerous more times with your loving partner. But for it to get drowned, rather than reinforced, I am betting you do need to be enjoying it. Sounds like a Catch 22. It is surely worth the effort.

  3. thankyou thankyou thankyou. my whitecoats aren’t really so bothered about feeling ‘memories’ but this is the one that is the most troublesome, as because it’s *felt* it’s seemed flashbacky, rather than being a ‘proper memory’ which i understand as just something in the brain. i’m not making sense, but the point is that broadening the understanding of what a memory is is -i think- going to prove incredibly useful.

    • CimmarianInk says:

      You made total sense. Accepting feeling memories is still something I work on but I’m glad that my therapist uses that term. It gives me something to think about. Glad you found the information helpful. 🙂

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