Critically appraise and discuss the issue of what is “normal” and “abnormal” sexual behaviour.
What is normal sexual behaviour? it depends more to the point, when is sexual behaviour that is somewhat different from the norm, morally abnormal or a disorder. Current views of unusual unless the behaviour is associated with a substantial impairment in functioning, law, with a non consenting partner or an individual unable to consent due to age, disability or culture (Kennair et.al. 2009; Vaknin, 2006; Ubillos et. al. 2000.). sexual orientation according to Desouza (2005). Exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality unlike sexual behaviour, sexual orientation refers to feelings and self concept. To understand why one would view a sexual behaviour of any kind as being abnormal one would need to understand foundations of societal values and origins of ideas as well as individual life experiences. In ancient Greece for example, paraphilia was apparent, socially practiced and accepted and celebrated, in a female submissive, male dominated, penis envying society which was governed by gods. This notion is supported by Field, (2008) & Johnson & Terry (2005); who note that aphrodisiac, eroticism, homosexuality, narcissism, nymphomania, pederasty are terms are derived from the language of ancient Greece which according to Johnson & Terry (2005) tells you something about its society. The myths of Homer and Plutarch told stories such as that of Aphrodite, goddess of sexual intercourse, who emerged from the foaming semen of her father's castrated testicles (Johnson & Terry, 2005) . Then there were the mortal heroes such as Hercules, who it is said ravished 50 virgins in a single night, but who also had an affair with his nephew “Iolaus” (Johnson & Terry, 2005). In today’s society this would be viewed as perverse behavior and unacceptable by clergy and persons with a strong Christian religious beliefs. As with the various paraphilias which have been evident throughout history currently, according to the DSM IV TR, gender identity disorder, sexual dysfunction disorder and paraphilia are generally used to diagnosis an individual whom has “abnormal” behaviour or a set of symptoms (APA, 2000). Controversy has arisen the DSM, arguing that people who have sexually unusual interests whom may not be distressed or disabled by them, that there is no justification for classifying them as disordered. Labelling their conditions as “pathological” may only fuel social discrimination which could lead to psychological damaging distress (Moser & Kleinplatz, 2005). Whereas Spitzer (2003) argues that “when severe paraphilias impair interpersonal sexual behaviour. Sexual behaviour that facilitates caring, bonding between people is normal – and that whihc impairs is abnormal, not merely an atypical variation. Spitzer (2003) continued by putting forward “that what is needed was more research on the treatment of the paraphilias such as paedophilia, as to removed them from the DSM would be the end of this much needed research”.
Who or what has decided what is normal and what’s abnormal sexual behaviour? Most cultures have social norms regarding sexuality and define “normal” sexuality to consist only of certain legal sex acts which meet specific criteria of age, relatedness, race/ethnicity and/ or social role and status. Wikipedia (2010). From a historical perspective in most non-Christian cultures there were gods and goddesses of power and fertility with exaggerated genitals. Some cultures liked penis gods so much they had several; for instance, the ancient Greeks honoured Priapus, Dionysus and Hermes, the Egyptians exalted Osiris, Bacchus was the Roman version, and Shiva reigned in India (Wikipedia, 2010). Penis and, less commonly, vulva worship, were practised and this was reflected in objects connected with daily living. Vases in classical Greece were...
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