Sexual Dysfunction is not always about sex
My client came to see me because of sexual dysfunction. He is a fit young man living with a woman he loves. She is keen on sex and so is he, but he keeps losing his erection during the process. She is understandably annoyed and is threatening to end the relationship.
My client told of a disastrous first attempt at sex that left both of them unhappy. He had been at a Christian camp and the object of his desire was also inexperienced. When the two of them met at night in an empty room it was in secrecy and under constant danger of being discovered. He said the whole thing was an embarrassment, nobody got anything out of it. He blamed it on inexperience and the threat of exposure. It was a classic case of a first attempt at sex that goes wrong, and plants the seed of worry that expands and ruins the rest of his life.
Sexual Dysfunction and Regression
Before he came to me he had been to see a different hypnotherapist three times. That therapist asked the usual questions and tried regression, but it did not have the right effect. He is now in a relationship with a woman who he thinks could be 'the one' so he is putting extra pressure on himself and his girlfriend is putting on even more pressure. I couldn't see what I could do that would be different from the regression and general NLP advice that he already got.
And then I got to thinking about that first encounter. A young man, a teenager, should have no problem getting it up. That's what young men are designed for. So I asked a bit more deeply about what went on that night, and particularly about what went on just before his assignation. He revealed that he was worried about what might happen before he even got there, and that everything turned out wrong just as he feared it would.
So I started thinking about why a young lover would be fearful even before the attempt. There must have been some reason why it even crossed his mind that it could go wrong. I tested for anxiety/depression. He has a bit of Introversion and a bit of anxiety thinking, but not full depression. His father had depression. He told of a childhood where his parents divorced when he was ten and he heard them arguing all the time. I concluded that he has hyper vigilance.
Sexual Dysfunction anxiety
I think that he had childhood anxiety and that it was the existing anxiety that made the first sex go wrong, not the bad sex that caused the sexual anxiety. He has underlying anxiety that is making him catastrophize over his past sexual failure. And because he sees this particular woman as his chance at a life partner, he is putting intense pressure on himself because this one must work, or he will miss out for life. This is causing more catastrophizing thoughts, more anxiety, and she is putting more pressure on him to perform, which causes more anxiety and so on.
The interesting thing about this case is that it is not the first sexual encounter that was the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE) and therefore regression is the wrong treatment. There was no ISE. What was there was chronic anxiety from childhood, that happens to be expressing itself as sexual performance problems.
The solution therefore is to treat the anxiety. And that's what I did.