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WHY SEX DRIVE VARIES IN INDIVIDUALS (1)

By NBF NEWS
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As technology advances and research increases the amount of discoveries that have been made in respect of sex and sexuality is amazing. Today, we shall be exploring many astounding theories on this topic. So, come with me as we unravel some of the remarkable speculations on sex and sex-related issues.

First is the speculations surrounding the word 'libido'. Libido, according to the famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, is the term used to describe the sexual drive or sexual instinct of human beings. He noted that sexual drive in human beings is characterised by a gradual build-up to the peak of intensity, followed by a sudden decrease in excitement.

After studying this process in his patients, he concluded that various human activities like eating, drinking, urinating and defecating share this same pattern. Consequently, he regarded these behaviours as sexual or libidinous as well.

Freud also became interested in the development of the libido, which he saw as the basic and most powerful human drive. He believed that the development of the libido involved several distinct and identifiable stages. According to his theory on how the libido develops, during infancy, the sexual drive is focused on the mouth, primarily manifesting in sucking. He labeled this the oral stage of libidinous development. During the second and third years of a child's life, as the child is undergoing toilet training, focus and erotically tinged pleasure shift to vulva and penis functions. Freud labeled this the foreplay stage. At the stage of puberty, the focus shifts again to the sex organs; a developmental stage he labeled the phallic stage in the maturation of the libido.

During the latter stage of development, libidinal drives focus at first on the parent of opposite sex and add an erotic colouring to the child's experience of his/her parents. Parental disapproval of uncontrolled libidinal drive, Freud believes, leads to the development of a human psyche that is made up of three components-the id, the ego and the superego. He concluded that the id, or basic set of instincts and drives (including the libido and other drives like aggression), provides the psychic energy needed to initiate activities, and that this id is stronger in the male gender than the female.

The ego, on the other hand, directs the day-to-day fulfillment of the libido and forms of desires in socially acceptable and achievable ways. This, he said, is found in both genders.

The superego labels the learned and internalised social standards of behaviour, including awareness of outlawed or punishable behaviours. During wakeful periods, strong boundaries separate these three arenas. But during sleep and fantasy, the boundaries grow weak, giving rise to open expression of otherwise controlled libidinous desires. Conscious awareness of these unrestrained desires and fantasies can cause the person to feel sexual guilt or shame.

Freud believed that an individual's personality is established early in life and is determined by the ways in which basic drives and impulses such as libido are satisfied. Failure to satisfy libidinal and other drives leads to their repression with resulting consequences for the development of an individual's personality and psychological health.

But subsequent generations of psychoanalysts questioned Freud's work on the libido, with some of them stressing the point that Freud overemphasised biological development and underemphasised the impact of temperamental, cultural and social factors on sexual attitudes and practices.

Hence, other theories on the libido arise from various psychoanalysts like Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, who rejected the idea that sexual experiences at infancy are the principal determinants of emotional problems in adulthood.

Jung developed an alternative theory of the libido which viewed the will to live rather than sexual desire as the strongest drive. Jung emphasised the distinction between introverted and extroverted personality types, and placed more emphasis on the four basic temperaments as one of the major controlling factors of an individual libido's behavioral pattern.

He went further to explain that extroversion refers to individuals whose attention are strongly directed (but not exclusively) outward from themselves to other people and to the world around them.

Extroverts, which consist of the Sanguine and the Choleric in temperament tend to feel comfortable in social situations and tend to be outgoing. They are not only party goers, they are sexually not stingy. They can give sex out anywhere and at any time.

Introverts on the other hand are the opposite and include the phlegmatic and the melancholic. Introverts tend to be self-reliant, introspective, thoughtful and comparatively uncomfortable in large social groups. Jung used the term libido to label the mental energy responsible for creating and sustaining introversion/extroversion. He did not believe that individuals were strictly introverted or extroverted, but tended to mix these qualities in varying amounts.

Many contemporary psychologists view the libido as a basic human instinct which, while rooted in human biology (e.g. hormones), is shaped largely by values, culture, exposure and experience.

In other words, the basic human drive to reproduce and the biologically-based potential to derive pleasure from behaviours associated with physical contact (e.g. nerve endings in the skin and mucous membranes) are given shape and form by one's experiences while growing up in a particular family within a particular society, with particular societal values and norms. How sexual motivations are structured and through which acts sexual drives are fulfilled, as well as whether certain behaviours are labelled as inappropriate, are determined primarily by these social influences and values.