Fear of Intimacy: Sneezing and Post Coital Blues Syndrome

My google alerts have sent me this article more than once. It’s an article called “Sexy Thoughts Make You Sneeze.”

Dr Mahmood Bhutta, an ear, nose and throat specialist at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, launched a study after seeing a patient who suffered “uncontrollable” sneezing fits every time he had a sexual thought and after finding seventeen more people (on the web) suffering from the same malady.

Dr Mahmood Bhutta and many other people somehow prefer to categorize this reaction of sneezing in response to sexual excitation as nothing more than a mechanical reaction.

Dr. Bhutta calls it “wires getting crossed” while others such as at this post, Why to people sometimes sneeze suddenly during sexual intercourse?…” would prefer the vasodialation / histamine release explanation. These people who prefer the mechanical explanations are also having intimacy issues.

How do I know they have fear of intimacy? 99% of the people on the web who talk about these kinds of problems are on the web because they have a fear of being close to others; they fear intimate, emotional contact.

I’ve been in gestalt groups myself where there’s plenty of emotional release; few if any of the participants bother taking their intimate problems to the web because they know the web is too impersonal. An impersonal playground is perfect for people with fear of intimacy.

You need to understand something: We’re more than meat sacks with a complex set of biomechanical/biochemical functionality. We’re also emotional beings.

There are those who might say, “What does sneezing have to do with the emotions?”

First off, it’s not only sneezing that people experience as an adverse reaction when they have fear of intimacy. Secondly, the sexual function is a function of intimacy when you’re in love with your partner. People with fear of intimacy have all kinds of adverse reactions. Sneezing is only one.

As a student of qigong and TCM, I’ve studied the energy meridians. The energy meridians are attached to our organs which have mechanical AND emotional functions. I realise this concept of applying emotional functions to the organs runs completely counter to the western mindset. Fortunately, I am not restricted to any particular mindset. Let’s look at one example, so I can reason out for you how our organ functions determine physical and emotional mindset:

The Spleen Function

For example, we need to look at the spleen as an energy function attached to an energy meridian. The spleen function helps us digest different foods to combine those components with the lung function of respiration to create energy. The spleen function also helps us to digest ideas and concepts.

There are people who are very closed minded about accepting new ideas. By the same token, these same people restrict their diet to certain foods, so they’re probably not willing to experiment with more exotic fare.

This means their spleen function is restricted both physically and emotionally – with the end result being that they experience restricted movement and energy level. This makes them somewhat antisocial because they prefer to socialize with people who see things “their way.”

On the other hand, there are people who are very open minded about accepting new ideas. By the same token, these same people love to try all kinds of exotic foods, so they’re willing to experiment with new flavours.

This means their spleen function is very flexible both physically and emotionally. The result is that these type of people are very flexible, so their energy levels are able to peak when necessary. This makes people with flexible spleen functions very social and accepting of others no matter how different.

Do you understand where I’m going with this? OK, you’re asking “where does the sneezing come in as an emotional response to intimacy?”

All you have to do is a further search on the web under “fear of intimacy, adverse reactions.” You’re going to find all kinds of articles dealing with the subject.

For example, “Relationship First Aid: How to Heal a Fear of Intimacy” pretty much blames ‘the gender imposed restrictions of society.” The only problem I have with this article is that it seeks to intellectualize an emotional problem like a psychoanalysis session.

Yes, it does help to voice your feelings to your loved ones, but how many people with intimacy issues know how to do that? A person needs the heart knowledge first on how to express themselves. Fear of intimacy tends to restrict expressions to a purely intellectual level; this is why we have so many “intellectual” explanations for sneezing when you have sexy thoughts.

These people are restricted and bound up so tightly that the only time they have confidence is on the web. On the web, they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, but tread outside of those restricted areas of biochemical / biomechanical response and we’re committing serious taboo.

OK, I’ll get to the sneezing. Wait.

Here’s another excellent article: Fear of Intimacy: Discover how a fear of intimacy affects your relationship.” This article hits a little closer to home in terms of neglectful or intrusive parenting and family role models. this article reminds me of the “go away closer” concept I read a few decades ago in one of Wilhelm Reich’s books which is an extended response of character armor caused by blocking emotions of love. The best recommendation by Dr. Nicastro is introspection on intimacy issues, but how many people with fear of intimacy actually want to get intimate with themselves?

The rest of the articles that I find on this subject of fear of intimacy are pretty much the same result: The authors want us to push through the fear of intimacy by using intimacy, either with others, or with ourselves through introspection.

Let’s admit it, when we have a fear of something, that means we have a fear of using it. If you have a fear of fire, then you’re not going to use it. Is that right? By the same token, if you have a fear of intimacy, then how are you going to use it to help yourself?

Let’s go back to that sneezing response, now. That sneeze response is actually very light fare compared to other adverse reactions to intimacy. There are wife beaters. There are any number of fetishists out there who obviously have intimacy issues because they mix pain and/or humiliation with pleasure. Is that right?

If you only sneeze when you get sexy thoughts about your mate, then consider yourself lucky; you only have a hangnail compared to the berserk insanity that other people have. Well, kind of.

I also have that sneezing problem. I almost have it licked, but all have have to do is imagine being with the one I love in the most intimate way and… “achooo!” For me, this is a problem because I’ve had it so long. It’s disheartening and demoralizing when I truly want to be close to that certain someone, then I sneeze. When you’ve had it long enough and it’s definitely a barrier, it’s just not funny. Well, maybe not to me, probably not to you either.

The Lung Function

I’m not going to cover the entire lung function here because it’s extremely extensive according to TCM. I’ll just tell you how it’s connected to the sneezing function.

The sense of smell is controlled by the lungs and also the spleen. If the lungs are not good, the sense of smell will be weak and the nose will be blocked. If the lungs are affected by much heat, the nose will be red and the nostrils will flare… [The Lung Meridian, p.330, The Dim-Mak Encyclopedia, Erle Montaigue and Wally Simpson]

Remember what I told you about the spleen? Since it functions in direct correlation with the lungs it deals with the expulsion of unacceptable matter in the lungs; it also uses the lung function to help expel unacceptable ideas, such as being truly close to someone.

I admit it: I have fear of intimacy and it’s gotten in the way of my love life. Fortunately, it’s only a sneeze, so I count my blessings and I look for answers. Where to look? Find people who tell us how to solve our intimacy issues. Where to find them?

I found them at Gary Craig’ site on emotional freedom techniques (EFT); it looks like there are other people who found a way to cure their fear of intimacy through EFT. I did a search at the site and found “from fear of intimacy to an open heart.”

What you’re supposed to do in EFT is tap within these shotgun target areas of your energy meridians as you vocally express your issues then affirm yourself. For example, here’s the script set forth at “from fear of intimacy to an open heart:”

Place your hand on your heart (otherwise known as the sore spot in EFT) and massage it in a circular motion while making the following pledge statement aloud:

  1. Even though I have this fear of intimacy…
  2. Even though I fear that if I get close to someone again, I will just risk getting hurt again and that will mean experiencing all that pain over again…
  3. Even though I cover up my fear of intimacy by busying myself and keeping myself distracted, I realize this no longer serves my highest good and choose instead to release and trust that things will always turn out for the best, even if at the time it doesn’t appear to be so.
  4. Even though I fear making myself vulnerable for fear of getting hurt, I choose to open my heart slowly, bit by bit, at my own pace and in my own time. I choose to learn how to trust others again and start by trusting myself implicitly.
  5. Even though this fear of intimacy is preventing me from having the best possible relationship, I choose to open my heart to love again so that I can enjoy deep, meaningful and loving relationships.
  6. Even though at times I don’t allow an intimate connection with myself, I choose to nurture and support myself in all that I do. I choose to let go of my fear of being hurt and I choose to feel safe and secure.

Reminder Pledge: Tap one (shortcut) round of each of these statements (this means go tapping all of the key points indicated in the EFT manual repeating the statement for round 1, then go back and tap the same points while repeating the statement for round 2, and same for round 3, etc.)

Round 1: I hereby choose to be completely free of the all fears that are keeping me from being intimate and loving again.

Round 2: I hereby release all fears and doubts about my ability to be intimate and to love again.

Round 3: I choose to open my heart slowly, bit by bit, at my own pace and in my own time.

Round 4: I choose to let go of my fear of being hurt and I choose to feel safe and secure in a new relationship.

Round 5: I choose to open my heart to love again so that I can enjoy deep, meaningful and loving relationships.

Round 6: I hereby commit to love.

You understand how that works? When you vocalize your issues, you’re releasing the emotional pressure that has built up in certain parts of your brain. That pressure only causes that invisible barrier to intimacy to get stronger. What we need to do is release the pressure by stimulating ourselves emotionally, first by tuning into the problem, then by inducing proper energy flow through affirmations.

You can get the EFT Manual to see all the tapping points of EFT. The only problem I have with the EFT concept is they like to rename acupuncture points and they don’t match the energy meridian with the corresponding emotion; It’s just a generalized tapping set of shotgun points including rolling of the eyes (which makes me want to roll my eyes).

In general, EFT has been proven to solve emotionally based problems in patients around the world in a matter of minutes.

The difference is EFT was created to appeal to a western mindset, so it’s much simpler and more concise than anything I’ve learned in TCM. Most people want to learn how to take care of a problem in a few minutes rather than learn an entire encyclopedia of medical concepts (like me). So EFT was created for most people.

Now, I’ve you will excuse me, I’m going to do another round for my intimacy issues which I’ve had for decades. I don’t sneeze nearly as much, so it must be working.

Thanks for your time and Happy Holidays to one and All.

Sincerely,

Randolph, HealingMindN Medicine Man

Here is an article from the NY times that also deals with intimacy issues. I believe it has more to deal with healing issues. Here are a few excerpts:

Sex and Depression: In the Brain, if Not the Mind

I didn’t think much about his case until some time later, when I met another patient with a similar complaint. She was a 32-year-old woman who experienced a four- to six-hour period of intense depression and irritability after an orgasm, either alone or with a partner. It was so unpleasant that she was starting to avoid sex.

Recently, a psychoanalyst colleague — a man known for his skill in uncovering psychopathology — called me about yet another case. He was puzzled about a 24-year-old man whom he viewed as psychiatrically healthy except for intense depression that lasted for several hours after sex.

There is nothing strange about a little sadness after sexual pleasure. As the saying goes, after sex all animals are sad. But these patients experienced intense dysphoria that lasted too long and was too disruptive to be dismissed as mere unhappiness…

The research literature is virtually silent on sex-induced depression, but a Google search revealed several Web sites and chat rooms for something called postcoital blues. Who knew? There, I read many accounts nearly identical to those of my patients, with reports of various remedies for the malady…

Of course, the mainstream head shrink who wrote this could only think of applying drugs to the situation. I’m thoroughly dissappointed in mainstream medical practice for not researching their patients further. They should be asking their patients:

  • What are your expectations from your sexual relationship?
  • What are you getting from your sexual relationship?

I believe these are the two key aspects of intimacy: What your expectations? What are you actually getting?

Let’s assume that the general concensus between people is that they want to have sex to be closer to their partners. How are you doing that exactly? You get pleasure. You give pleasure, but how does that bring you closer to your partner? Does having sex actually make you feel closer to your partner?

Do you see that I’m now probing beyond the cognitive committments of most people including the head shrinks? In this case, the problem that’s most likely happening in “post coital blues” is lack of intimacy. The person suffering from depression after sex may actually want more intimacy, but her/his partner is not providing – more likely her partner.  (If she’s seeing more than one partner, that’s a lack of intimacy issue right there.)

Of course, I’m just postulating here in terms of psychology, but no more than that shrink in the article:  The amygdala harbors negative information when we don’t release it. We can have anger, frustration, and other related emotions, all bottled up in the amygdala until we release it.

The amygdala can also harbor negative feelings of ‘void’ like depression, loneliness, sadness. We get these feelings of void usually when something is lacking in our lives like appreciation, respect, and intimacy. In fact, let’s face it. We’re complicated. Feelings of frustration can set off feelings of despair, then anger, then rage.

When we have high expectations of another person, especially in an intimate relationship, and that other person does not meet those expectations, we can run the entire gamut of emotions until we finally hit that wall of depression. Therefore, another viable question from a head shrink to his patient is “how did you feel between the time you had sex and the time the depression hit you?”

The answer to this question would help us gauge the source of the problem.  The only problem is that a person can experience a lot of feelings right after sex in a matter of minutes if not seconds before hitting depression. What really matters is how two intimate partners can meet each other’s expectations.

The greatest part of intimacy is healing. No one ever told you that? Well, I’m telling you now. You’re both there to HEAL each other. Beyond the pleasure, that’s what sex is for. This is how two people become truly intimate with each other – through HEALING.

This is the reason everyone need to learn how to be a Sexual HealingMindN. When your intention is to heal your partner of whatever emotional void they may be experiencing during sexual intercourse, your relationship blossoms. You will meet each other’s expectations; no need for drugs, no need for depression. You should only have happiness together. Please study the literature available through Sexual HealingMindN, then practice, practice, practice.

Be a real man and bring her to the 9th wave, the way you’re supposed to. Thanks again for your time.