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Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies Paperback – January 18, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (January 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312302428
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312302429
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"The function of sexual fantasy is to undo the beliefs and feelings interfering with sexual excitement, to ensure both our safety and our pleasure," writes clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Michael Bader. In Arousal, Bader discusses the role of sexual fantasy as an unconscious problem solver and describes how his patients have come to understand the background, logic, and positive messages of their fantasies. Bader offers case studies of patients (heterosexual and gay) with varied conflicts, and analyzes their sexual fantasies in light of their desires, guilt, and past and current relationships. Most patients, Bader found, are able to resolve their issues by understanding the meaning and logic of their fantasies and then move on to more satisfying relationships.

Bader also interprets common sex fantasies and discusses sexual boredom in ongoing relationships, the power of pathogenic (irrational and self-defeating) beliefs, and sexual fantasies as a therapeutic key to problems that seem independent of sexuality, such as depression.

This provocative book is scholarly yet accessible to the lay reader interested in psychology. Although readers might be drawn in by the gritty, sexy details about Bader's patients, thoughtful readers also will learn about themselves and what their own fantasies may be addressing and revealing. --Joan Price --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This analysis of the pathologies of fantasy and psychology shows the road to hedonism is not paved with bricks but with dreams. With more than 20 years of counseling experience, Bader comes across as a compassionate psychotherapist, dedicated to exploring desire in whatever shape it might take: "Sexual excitement," he writes, "is loaded with taboos in our culture and is inevitably fraught with conflict and complications." Describing clinical practices and employing stories from his couch, Bader constructs a sexual world view wherein the shame and guilt patients experience in their early years (via the usual suspects: unhappy childhoods, bad parents) later well up in their intimate lives, often times in the form of secret and seemingly deviant fantasies. Throughout the book, Bader attempts to elucidate how these fantasies are used as the bridge between sexuality and the unreleased psychological tensions that float beneath the surface of consciousness. Readers may find his interpretations of fantasies from the familiar to the strange titillating (from voyeurism to coprophilia and sadomasochism), but may wonder if it's really accurate to say that "sexual fantasies are the keyhole through which we will be able to see our true selves." Bader's methodology insists that these desires are played out on a field viewed solely through the lens of psychoanalysis, a form of treatment some believe is outdated. And even though he may be a proponent of pop-sexology, Bader never gives a nod to Havelock Ellis, who pioneered in the field a century ago.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Perhaps the case studies that he used included much more data than he based his explantions on.
Patrick D. Goonan
The author gives enough insight that the reader can go on their own journey of self discovery, and it points them in some general directions.
Christina
Dr. Bader's theory that fantasy is about emotional safety is simple, profound, and transformative.
S. Talbot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By janeyb on July 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found "Arousal" to be a fascinating analysis of sexual fantasies. Through the use of case studies - the feminist whose biggest turn-on was the idea of being be raped by a custodian, the man whose fantasies involved turning invisible, the fellow who imagined having sex with a bubbly, underage highschool student, and many more - Bader ably demonstrates how a psychoanalyst who is sensitive and open-minded might go about understanding the genesis of a patient's sexual fantasies and turning these insights into something of therapeutic benefit.
Each of the fantasies profiled has a very logical premise that Bader explains clearly and believably. For instance, the feminist fantasized about being raped because she felt stronger than most men, and only in the arms of the fantasy rapist - who was all muscles and ruthless about taking what he wanted - could she just think about herself and surrender to her own excitement. With her own husband, she didn't feel nearly as comfortable about being selfish sexually (she was instinctively sensitive to his feelings), and thus didn't experience the same level of arousal as in her fantasies.
Bader makes an interesting distinction - between people who have fantasies, and people who act on their fantasies. I would have enjoyed seeing him go into greater detail in this area. However, his explorations regarding the background of various common fantasies - domination, submission, masochism, sadism, fetishism, underage, invisibility (and myriad others) - more than make up for this lapse.
This book is wonderful for anyone who is curious about the underpinnings of their fantasies, or who is interested in how a psychoanalyst might dissect those same fantasies (and then put that understanding to work). The book is fascinating, provocative and well worth checking out.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By David on January 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
The thesis of "Arousal" is that psychological safety is the basis of the bewildering variety of sexual fantasies and preferences -- that the self sets up circumstances in which it feels safe to experience the power of its own sexuality. The way in which each of us does this differs according to our backgrounds. Our relationships with our parents are particularly important -- the elements and experiences in those relationships that made us feel safe or unsafe emotionally directly affect the way we experience our sexuality.

Thus, we can interpret sexual fantasies just as we interpret dreams: as symbols within which our complex needs and fears are encoded.

This book presents an enlightening perspective from which we can begin to understand our own sexual fantasies and preferences. Dr. Bader goes in-depth in exploring guilt, worry, and shame in sexuality; discusses the paradoxical nature of arousal -- the need for both selflessness and selfishness, for instance -- and presents a number of case studies to illustrate.

I'm not certain why other reviewers thought this book was too simplistic. Certainly the central thesis seems simple enough, but I found myself having difficulty following the internal logic of the patients in his case studies -- women who fantasize about being raped, cross-dressers, people who are into sadomasochism or "golden showers," etc. Although everyone seeks emotional safety, the variety of ways each person achieves this is staggering.

As someone who constantly searches for aids to my self-awareness, I had two basic reactions to this book. One was, "Duh, why didn't I think of this before?" The other was, "Wow, this is good stuff." To have an experienced therapist explore the topic in detail helped me to see the depth and complexity of what seems to be very simple on the surface, and provides a solid starting point for those who want to explore the issue more in-depth within themselves.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I had always been ashamed of my secret wants in intimate relationships--now I understand why I have them, what they mean and most importantly I no longer feel the shame I associated with them. AROUSAL should be required reading before someone starts dating or enters a sexual relationship. I wish I had this guide in college.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Patrick D. Goonan on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I didn't find Dr. Bader's arguments to be very persuasive. He seemed to over simplify things to a point where nuance and complexity was lost. Perhaps the case studies that he used included much more data than he based his explantions on. If so, I wish he shared this additional information because a lot of his reasoning wasn't as obvious to me as it was to him. For example, I could come up with lots of alternative ways to interpret what was going on and for Dr. Bader it seemed like there was only one right interpreation -- his.

While this book has some value, especially for people who may not have read much in this area, I thought it was superficial. It wasn't complex enough for a psychotherapy audience and it didn't seem to be a good fit for the popular psyche market either.

I think one would get a better and clearer understanding from Jack Morin's book "Your Erotic Mind." I don't know of anything better out there on this topic. The two authors approach the subject differently, so if you own this book already, you may want to consider a different perspective.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Haven't we all been with people who have sexual fantasies about which we haven't a clue as to why they turn them on? Like a former boyfriend who made me dress up in the classic, Catholic Girls School uniform: white knee socks, short, pleated skirt, white school blouse and white cotton underpants--and then he would put me over his knee, pull them down and spank me! He was so scrumptious (and, may I add 18 years younger) and it was such a turn on for him that I began to like it! But, have even a clue as to why it had to be part of his sexual foreplay--not until I read AROUSAL, psychoanalyst Dr. Michael J. Bader's riveting account of how our sexual fantasies evolve from our childhood traumas in order to make having sex seem ok and safe. Nancy Friday says it much better than I: AROUSAL represents an important advance in psychoanalytic thinking about sexual fantasies. Using case studies from his own practice, Michael Bader argues convincingly that our sexual fantasies are neither kinky nor perverse but are driven by the desire for pleasure and safety. As AROUSAL makes clear, "Sex begins in the mind, and travels downward." With case study after case study, taken from Bader's practice, we begin to understand why domination and submission play such an integral part in so many couples lovemaking. A must read for anyone practicing sex."
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