June 28, 1996


If your sexual fantasies were truly of interest to others, they would no longer be fantasies.

Fran Lebowitz

Most of us have a fantasy life; at least so I've read. Some people have even been able to make their fantasies come true. Virtually all adolescents dream of sex. Most eventually make those fantasies come true. Some wait until marriage; but you can be fairly sure that fantasies almost always precede the sex act itself.

Every performer has fantasies of performing to adoring and cheering crowds. Some manage to make those fantasies come true. The tycoons or top politicians of today had fantasies of their ultimate success long before it happened.The unsuccessful ones may still harbor those unfulfilled fantasies.

James Thurber wrote a story, which was made into a movie, called The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in which the hero has elaborate fantasies of being a wide variety of very exciting and adventurous people, while at the same time, leading an extraordinarily dull real-life.

In other words, fantasy is normal, healthy and often productive. The problems occur when people have trouble distinguishing fantasy or dreams from reality -a fairly common occurrence.

I remember, with some amusement, having my fantasy bubble burst. I was attending a meeting in Chicago, and went to a fancy bar and restaurant with a friend. As I was sipping my drink, one of the loveliest women I had ever seen walked in on the arm of a rather plain-looking man. As I was imagining myself making love to her, she turned to her escort and, through her nose, said "Frweddeee." I could almost see the fantasy bubble over my head pop.

In some cases, the reality is better than the fantasy, but more often it is not. I had a similar fantasy while watching the Donahue Show. Here was the sexiest female I had ever seen, who looked, talked and acted as I have imagined the girl of my dreams might talk and act. I was badly shaken when I found out that she was a male, with the same physiques and plumbing that I had.

Many older and old people augment their fantasies with movies, pictures and stories. The young really don't need any help. I remember, as an adolescent, looking at the pictures of naked women in medical books. I suppose that I haven't grown up all the way -none of us do, you know- because I still enjoy a bit of erotica, even though medical books no longer turn me on. I still get a tiny bit of pleasure from the female underwear ads. And those who craft those ads do so with a full knowledge of their effect on both the women who buy the underwear and on their mates.

I remember some blue-noses being shocked when then president Jimmy Carter admitted that he had "sinned in his heart." I can't understand how people can sustain the illusion that it is possible for someone over 6 years of age(a purely arbitrary number) to be "pure at heart."

The concept that sex is sinful outside of marriage has caused people no end of difficulty. Many a women has had difficulty accepting sex as an enjoyable act. The classic story is about a Victorian Englishwoman telling her daughter about the sex act and advising her to "lie back and think of England." A man may have similar difficulties thinking of the woman who takes care of him and bears and raises his children in the same way that he thinks of a casual sex partner. Psychoanalysts have to deal with a number of these problems every day. It is bread and butter for them, for psychologists, psychiatrists and sex therapists. What was thought of as normal behavior in Victorian England is now considered sexual psychopathology.

When I hear some people condemn eroticism in any form, I wonder whether we are living in the same world; particularly since they themselves were conceived by the very act that they deplore. I suspect that they too have never quite grown up. I remember one of my daughters, who had just learned about the sex act, asking me whether what she had heard was true. When I said that it was, she remarked, "Gee, and you did THAT just to have us! You and mom must have done it three times."

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