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THE SEXUAL INSTINCT AND LOVE EMOTION

This emotion is felt not only in reference to persons but in the presence of inanimate things. The adolescent boy or girl, without understanding what it is all about, falls in love with the whole world. Wood and stream, springtime, sunset, moonlight, the starry heavens—all become sexual objects and thus receive an emotional coloring which lasts through life.1 The same sexual coloring is likewise often given to religious ideas or to other fields of experience. Yet so little do boys and girls realize that the feeling tone with which these things are experienced is sexual that they may even contrast these ennobling and "pure" experiences with the more obvious physical desires and sensations which they come in time to know as sex. They may even use these indirect or sublimated expressions of sex as an escape from sexual temptation, not knowing that they have merely substituted one phase of sex for another.

The indefiniteness of the sexual object, or external stimulus of the sex instinct, and its great dependence on environmental influences should be clear from the foregoing. Man in his evolution seems to have lost most of the specific stimuli of sight, sound and smell which draw most animals infallibly to their normal sexual expression. Even if there is some definite aspect of the human body which is instinctively stimulating, this instinctive element is so vague and so overlaid with acquired experiences, which on grounds other than sex mold one's likes and dislikes, that it is well nigh impossible to disentangle the acquired and the instinctive elements. The exact solution of this problem, however, is not of importance to us here. In our discussion of the mental hygiene of sex, this analysis of the sexual instinct has only the purpose of showing how much the development of the sexual instinct is subject to the accidents of environment, how easily the impulse may go astray, and how an understanding of the whole process may help one in overcoming any abnormal tendencies that are really harmful.

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Men's Health-Erectile Dysfunction


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