Male Acceptance and Sexuality
Even though what White does has very strong sexual overtones to it, she insists that “there is a world of difference” between her Naked Therapy and pornography. Pornography, White tells Psychology Today, is merely indulging in sexual desires; Naked Therapy, on the other hand, actively and clinically uses sexual arousal as a means to access the underlying feelings and problems that her clients have.
The idea of men finding a degree of psychological freedom in a sexually charged environment is not a novel one. A cultural anthropologist, sex researcher, and former exotic dancer says that strip clubs give men a safe space to express their sexuality, and thus encourage them to behave naturally (within appropriate limits). Taken to another level, “strip clubs save marriages,” the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
By disrobing (and even touching herself on camera, in view of her clients), White feels that she can circumvent the barriers that the male psyche can erect. For men, White’s school of thought says, issues of acceptance are intrinsically linked to their sexual identity; by allowing them to explore that sexuality (with her clinical guidance), her clients rediscover themselves and are thus empowered to address other issues in their lives.
Many of those issues deal with images and conceptions of masculinity, which is typically reduced to basic, stereotypical concepts that categorize men as being subservient to their sexual desires (or the sexual desires of a partner). As a result, a number of men are unable to put their feelings into words (a situation that Scientific American explains called “alexithymia,” a form of “emotional blindness”), which might turn them off the idea of talking to a person to seek help for their problems. This, in turn, makes men resistant to the idea of going to therapy, even becoming inappropriate and aggressive toward female therapists. Little is known, writes a researcher at New York University’s Online Publication of Undergraduate Studies, about “the male experience in psychotherapy,” and how “the pressures and confines of masculinity affect the clinical process.”
To that effect, the writer in Vice magazine mentions some of Sarah White’s own research on the subject, which highlights that despite the majority of men experiencing mental health crises and disorders, most of them do not seek treatment, primarily because they are afraid that acknowledging a problem (and a psychological problem, at that) is emasculating. The Vice writer struggled with depression, and what contributed to the problem was difficulty in “swallowing [his] ego and admitting that [he] needed help.”
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