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Paul Samsonov
Paul Samsonov

's Guide To Love And Pleasure |TOP|

The body has many feel good hormones that boost mood and promote general wellbeing in many ways. Some are able to alleviate anxiety and prevent depressive symptoms while others trigger pleasure, joy, bonding, and trust. Here are the main happiness chemicals in your body:

's guide to love and pleasure

Endorphins and dopamine are often confused because each one is a chemical that makes you happy in the broad sense of the term. However, they are in some ways related because, when endorphins bind to receptors of the central nervous system, dopamine (the pleasure hormone) is released.

There are some natural ways to increase your levels of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin which will boost your mood, emotions, and even cognitive function. Activities like exercise, eating a meal with loved ones, and increasing your intake of prebiotics and probiotics are all beneficial.

Enter the Tokyo love hotel, or rabuho. Though this idea might seem somewhat sleazy to people used to the idea of no-tell motels back in the States, love hotels are clean and used not only by trysting lovers, but middle-aged couples looking to get away from the live-in in-laws (and vice versa).

Police scrutiny from the later 1970s onward pushed the more flamboyant features of love hotels indoors, and most newer ones have fairly nondescript exteriors that sort of blend into the Tokyo streets. In keeping with the on-the-DL protocol, some love hotels even have separate entrances and exits so that you and your honey can arrive and leave without being too conspicuous.

The site (in Japanese) has a fairly comprehensive listing of love hotels in Shinjuku, Shibuya, Roppongi, Ikebukuro and beyond, with addresses, ratings, pictures, and even some coupons for things like free drinks or a thousand yen off the room price.

You may hear rumors that some love hotels secretly film guests in their rooms and sell the footage to amateur porn sites. This is unlikely (as explained here), but also not a concern unique to love hotels (locker rooms and unsupervised outdoor hot springs are also places where this has reportedly happened).

Most older love hotels and ones outside of Tokyo are pretty much all-smoking establishments by default. Depending on the hotel, rooms might hardly smell of smoke at all or they might positively reek. There might be a couple of non-smoking rooms, though they might already be taken.

Love hotels have long been wary of solo guests for fear of suicides and prostitution. That said, as the demand for rooms have let up in the past decade or two, more and more seem to be okay with people staying by themselves. And of course the more automated the check in process is, the easier it is for non-traditional love hotel guests to score a room.

Addiction involves craving for something intensely, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. Addiction changes the brain, first by subverting the way it registers pleasure and then by corrupting other normal drives such as learning and motivation. Although breaking an addiction is tough, it can be done.

The scientific consensus has changed since then. Today we recognize addiction as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and function. Just as cardiovascular disease damages the heart and diabetes impairs the pancreas, addiction hijacks the brain. This happens as the brain goes through a series of changes, beginning with recognition of pleasure and ending with a drive toward compulsive behavior.

Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behavior causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it. That is, this process motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure.

"The world touches us in so many ways," poet David Whyte reminds us in his book Consolations, "through the trials of love, through pain, through happiness, through our simple everyday movement through the world."

This sense of connection is what many of us have missed in the last year: a hug from a friend, a kiss from a lover, the casual brush past a stranger on a crowded street. And it is essential, a need deeply rooted in our biology. Jesse Kahn, a licensed psychotherapist and sex therapist based in New York City, explains touch releases oxytocin, reduces stress, and calms our nervous system. The absence of it, he says, can manifest as "depression or anxiety or a feeling of loneliness or stress."

"The relationship that we have with ourselves is primary, one that we're going to have for our entire lives. And it's also the most intimate," Kahn says. That is why it is important to consider the broad continuum of what brings us pleasure. Maybe it's a walk on the beach, or a long hot bath. Or maybe it includes connection that's more intimate.

Once she identified these sources, she says, she was able to slowly disassociate from them. Now, when she looks in the mirror, she speaks to herself with love, and reminds herself that the thighs she once judged hold power: "These are the sacred legs that hold me up."

"Masturbation can be the turning point for a lot of people when it comes to making peace with their bodies," Stubbs writes in her book, Playing Without a Partner. "Understanding that you are worthy of sexual pleasure is so powerful. You, in whatever body right now, can and deserve to experience pleasure."

The joy you experience can be used as a guide, adrienne maree brown says, to engaging in the world. "Pursuing pleasure within your body is a way that our body trains us for how we are meant to move to those orgasmic experiences of life," she says.

Beyond rhetorical articulation of a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) agenda since the Cairo and Beijing articulations, the reality within countries and at the global level has been a siloed approach with reproductive health (and at times reproductive rights) higher on donor and policy maker agendas (whether driven by demographic trends, fertility control, ignorance or discrimination) even when the language is used. The limits to meaningful interaction between work to support sexual rights and reproductive rights is also embedded in movement politics; many movements, including women's health and rights, disability rights and reproductive health and rights movements have tended to neglect issues of sexuality and sexual pleasure.6 Likewise, those working on sexual rights have more often than not stayed away from reproductive health and rights in their advocacy work7 for substantive but also political reasons.

Social cultural taboos in relation to sexuality are often embedded in laws and policies with negative effects on sexual health and pleasure. For example, laws that penalise and criminalise sexual health related matters, such as same-sex sexual acts and behaviours, transgender expression, sex work, HIV transmission, possession of a condom as evidence of crime, and penalisation of the advertisement of contraception or abortion, codify a restricted approach to morality and reinforce power structures that control the bodies and behaviours of marginalised and discriminated against populations. The burden of unjustified use of criminal and punitive laws is significant: certain population groups, such as gay, lesbian and transgender people, women, adolescents, people engaged in sex work, and those living with HIV, can experience difficulties in accessing relevant services, let alone engaging in positive sexual experiences, with direct impacts on health and pleasure.26

Controlling, undermining, restricting and medicalising the sexual needs and desires of certain populations can result in coercive laws, policies and practices. For example, the desires, pleasure and sexual health and rights needs of people living with disability, including with intellectual disabilities, are still often undermined, and controlled through forced sterilisation policies and practices, inaccessibility of sexuality, and sexual health information and services.9 People with disabilities are often infantilised through laws and policies and held to be asexual27 (or in some cases, hypersexual), their pleasure irrelevant at best, incapable of reproduction and unfit sexual/marriage partners or parents.28 For women, disability may mean legal exclusion from a life of partnership and active sexuality, and denial of opportunities for motherhood.29 These laws, policies and controlling practices undermine the equal rights of people with disabilities, their need for access to information and services, and their desires for pleasure, reproduction and parenting.

While laws and policies should be set in such a way that they respect human rights and acknowledge sexual desire and pleasure as a basic human need, many laws that are set with the intention to protect can end up being discriminatory and coercive by, for example, not recognising non-binary gendered bodies, same-sex sexual practices, or the sexual desires of people under the age of 18 years old. For example, rape laws that do not recognise rape in marriage, or consider any sexual act to be rape if it occurs with a person under the age of 18 years old, or recognise only vaginal penetration by a penis as rape, exclude many people from the spectrum of protection.16

Thus, application of the triangle approach to sexual health, rights and pleasure proposed here would require not only careful analysis but also amendment of laws and policies to ensure they do not inadvertently discriminate, and that they respect the rights-based definitions of sexuality, sexual health, and pleasure presented in Box 1. Some positive developments are occurring in this regard at both the international and national levels.

There is a need to learn from and move beyond conversations about pleasure, focused only on certain populations, whether with young people, women, and/or other marginalized populations, or specifically focused on sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, or sex characteristics, and support the relevance of sexual health, sexual rights and pleasure as a universal demand for all people. 350c69d7ab


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