The study of human sexuality is “the study of what people do and how they think and feel about it” — a saying often heard at the (now defunct) Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, CA.
Sexology has often been a controversial field so it’s surprising that inquiry into the wide range of human-spirit intimacies has been relegated to fetishism and otherwise neglected.
People who have had such experiences are therefore neglected and deprived of research insights and nonjudgmental support from competent professionals. They may also lack support from their families, friends, social networks and spiritual communities. In fact, an admission of such experiences or relationships could put a person in grave danger: including ridicule, bullying, ostracism and even violence.
While there is controversy about the existence of spirits, ghosts, deities, and other unseen beings, this should not prevent us from curiosity about the vast array of cultural, religious, spiritual, mythic, and anecdotal accounts of human/spirit encounters or from supporting the lived experiences, struggles, and joys of people who’ve encountered such beings in a deeply personal way.
There’s a lot to explore here and a lot to unpack. What have sexologists, sex researchers, and psychologists done so far? How have they treated this and related topics, such as non-touch orgasm or counseling practices to support people who experience spectro-sexual incidents and relationships?
SPECTROPHILIA AS A FETISH
•Love, Brenda. 1992. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Barricade Books, Inc., Fort Lee, NJ.
NON-SENSORY-INDUCED ORGASM (Mind-Gasms, Thought-Gasms, etc.)
•Kinsey, Alfred C., Pomeroy, Wardell B. & Martin, Clyde E. 1948. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia and London,.
Findings in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male: “Three or four adult males, out of the more than 5,000 in the present study, have been able to ejaculate by deliberately concentrating on sexual fantasies, without any genital manipulation. In such a case, the psychic stimulation is entirely responsible for the result” (pp. 517-518). [This is separate from discussions of “nocturnal emissions” (Chapter 15, pp. 517-530).]
•Kinsey, Alfred C., Pomeroy, Wardell B., Martin, Clyde E. & Gebhard, Paul H. 1953. Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia and London,
Findings in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female: two percent (approximately 100) of “nearly 5,000” wide-awake women were able to achieve orgasm through “psychic stimulation” (p. 163). [This is separate from discussions of “nocturnal sex dreams” (Chapter 6, pp. 191-226.]
•Komisaruk, Barry R. & Whipple, Beverly. 2005. Functional MRI of the brain during orgasm in women. Annual Review of Sex Research, 16:62-86.
•Komisaruk, Barry R., Beyer-Flores, Carlos, & Whipple, Beverly. 2006. The Science of Orgasm. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
Findings summarized in The Science of Orgasm:
(1) 1992 study (below): Autonomic responses of ten women during “orgasm by thought.” Autonomic responses included “heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and pain threshold.” “The significant increases in these physiological measures occurred during the thought condition as well as the physical genital self-stimulation condition” (pp. 260-261).
(2) 2005 study (above): imaging non-sensory-induced orgasms via fMRI. “…in thought-induced orgasms, as in orgasms induced by vaginocervical self-stimulation, the regions of nucleus accumbens, PVN, hippocampus, and anterior cingulate cortex are activated.” Amygdala is not active during non-sensory-induced orgasms (pp. 261).
•Roach, Mary. 2008. Bonk-The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, W.W. Norton & Co. New York & London. See Chapter 11, The Immaculate Orgasm: Who Needs Genitals (pp. 239-241).
•Roach, Mary. 2009. Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm, TEDTalk. References a woman who has “thought gasms.” See Bonk, Chapter 11 above.
•Whipple, Beverly, Ogden, Gina, & Komisaruk, Barry R. 1992. Physiological correlates of imagery induced orgasms: a case study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 21:121-133.
GENERAL CLINICAL COMPETENCY GUIDELINES THAT COULD SUPPORT PEOPLE EXPERIENCING SPIRITU-INTIMACY SUCH AS SPECTROSEXUALITY AND SPIRIT MARRIAGES
•ASERVIC Competencies for Addressing Spiritual and Religious Issues in Counseling (PDF). 2009. Endorsed by the American Counseling Association.