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    Wink Mind Sex0ring

    Sex on the brain: Orgasms unlock altered consciousness
    11 May 2011 by Kayt Sukel

    Our intrepid reporter performs an intimate act in an fMRI scanner to explore the pathways of pleasure and pain

    WITH a click and a whirr, I am pulled into the scanner. My head is strapped down and I have been draped with a blanket so that I may touch my nether regions - my clitoris in particular - with a certain degree of modesty. I am here neither for a medical procedure nor an adult movie. Rather, I am about to stimulate myself to orgasm while an fMRI scanner tracks the blood flow in my brain.

    My actions are helping Barry Komisaruk at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, and colleagues to tease apart the mechanisms underlying sexual arousal. In doing so, not only have they discovered that there is more than one route to orgasm, but they may also have revealed a novel type of consciousness - an understanding of which could lead to new treatments for pain (see Top-down pain relief).

    Despite orgasm being a near-universal human phenomenon, we still don't know all that much about it. "The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable," says Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in Bloomington, Indiana.

    It is estimated that one in four women in the US has had difficulty achieving orgasm in the past year, while between 5 and 10 per cent of women are anorgasmic - unable to achieve orgasm at all. But without precise data to explain what happens during this experience, there are few treatment options available for women who might want help.

    Komisaruk is interested in the time course of orgasm, and particularly when an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex (PFC) becomes active. The PFC is situated at the front of the brain and is involved in aspects of consciousness, such as self-evaluation and considering something from another person's perspective.

    Komisaruk's team recently found heightened activation in the PFC during female climax - something not seen in previous studies of the orgasm. Surprisingly, this was also the case in individuals who can achieve orgasm by thought alone. With fantasy and self-referential imagery often reported as being part of the sexual experience, Komisaruk and colleagues wondered if the PFC might be playing a key role in creating a physiological response from imagination alone. That is why I am here.

    Komisaruk instructs me to tap my thumb with my finger for 3 minutes, then to simply imagine my finger tapping my thumb for the next 3 minutes as fMRI tracks where blood is flowing in my brain. Immediately after, I follow the same cycle with Kegel exercises - brief squeezes of the pelvic floor muscles - and then clitoral touches. I'm then asked to self-stimulate to orgasm, raising my free hand to indicate climax. Despite the unique situation, I am able to do so without too much trouble.

    Over 30 areas of my brain are activated as I move from start to finish, including those involved in touch, memory, reward and even pain (see "Orgasm snapshot"). As Komisaruk expected, the imagined clitoral touches and Kegel exercises activated the same brain areas as real ones, albeit with somewhat less blood flow. The PFC, however, showed more activation when touches and pelvic squeezes were imagined compared with those that were real. He suggests this heightened activation may reflect imagination or fantasy, or perhaps some cognitive process that helps manage so called "top-down" control - the direct regulation by the brain of physiological functions - of our own pleasure. The team presented their results at the Society for Neuroscience annual conference in San Diego in November 2010.

    However, when Janniko Georgiadis at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and colleagues, performed similar experiments they found that the same brain region "switched off" during orgasm. Specifically, they saw significant deactivation in an area of the PFC called the left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).

    Altered state

    Georgiadis argues that the OFC may be the basis of sexual control - and perhaps only by letting go, so to speak, can orgasm be achieved. He suggests this deactivation may be the most telling example of an "altered state of consciousness" and one not seen, as yet, during any other type of activity.

    "I don't think orgasm turns off consciousness but it changes it," he says. "When you ask people how they perceive their orgasm, they describe a feeling of a loss of control." Georgiadis suggests that perhaps orgasm offsets systems that usually dominate attention and behaviour. "I'm not sure if this altered state is necessary to achieve more pleasure or is just some side effect," he says. It is possible that the inability to let go and reach this altered state may be what prohibits individuals with anorgasmia from reaching climax.

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    There may be a simple explanation for the discrepancies between Georgiadis's and Komisaruk's work - they may represent two different paths to orgasm, activated by different methods of induction. While participants in Komisaruk's studies masturbated themselves to orgasm, those in Georgiadis's were stimulated by their partners. "It is possible there is a difference between someone trying to mentalise sexual stimulation as opposed to receiving it from a partner," says Georgiadis. Perhaps having a partner makes it easier to let go of that control and achieve orgasm. Alternatively, having a partner may make top-down control of sensation and pleasure less necessary to climax.

    "This kind of research is incredibly useful," says Heiman. "Orgasm is tied into the brain's reward system and likely other important systems as well. There is much we can learn about the brain, about sensation, about how pleasure works and probably much more from this one physical response."

    Komisaruk agrees. He hopes to one day use neurofeedback to allow women with anorgasmia to view their brain activity in real time during genital stimulation. The hope is that this feedback may help them to manipulate their brain activity to bring it closer to that of an orgasmic pattern of activity. He also believes that further study of the orgasm - and the PFC's role - will offer much needed insight into how we might use thought alone to control other physical sensations, such as pain. "There's a lot of mystery in this one intense human experience that is just waiting to be figured out," he says.

    Orgasm snapshot
    Click here to see what Kayt Sukel's brain looks like at the moment of orgasm. The scan is a sagittal section, essentially a profile shot, that shows one moment in time in different "slices" through the brain.

    The coloured dots represent blood flow. Cooler colours show less blood flow and less activation. Warmer colours mean more activation.

    You can see from the extent of activity that an orgasm is a whole-brain experience. Activation in the prefrontal cortex (A) is clearly visible, as well as activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (B), thought to be involved in the experience of pain.

    Top-down pain relief
    The orgasm is a strong analgesic. With brain-activation studies of orgasm showing unique patterns of activation in regions implicated in attention, self-awareness and consciousness, researchers believe its study may also help with the control of pain.

    "Orgasm is a special case of consciousness," says Barry Komisaruk at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. "If we can look at different ways of inducing orgasm, we may better understand how we can use top-down processing to control what we physically feel."

    People who suffer from chronic pain conditions can be coached to relieve some of their symptoms through such top-down techniques, says Kenneth Casey at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. That is, they can use high-level mental processes to modulate what they feel physically. "The placebo effect is an easy example of practical top-down control. You believe you are taking a pill that will help and somehow it does," he says. "In my experience, simply telling a patient that the pain they are experiencing is not harmful has an analgesic effect."

    Researchers from Stanford University in California recently showed that individuals were able to control pain by watching real-time activity of a brain area called the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and then mentally adjusting it. The ACC is also activated in orgasm.

    A better understanding of what these brain areas are doing in situations of pain and pleasure, Komisaruk argues, may open the door for improved top-down techniques to modulate both.

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    Oooh... aaahh... reading this... was exciting.

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    I hope Barry's research results in some sort of drug that induces orgasms or else the drug companies are going to get pretty pissy about the loss in profits when the pain pill subscriptions are no longer given out as often or in such large subscriptions/mgs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post

    However, when Janniko Georgiadis at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and colleagues, performed similar experiments they found that the same brain region "switched off" during orgasm. Specifically, they saw significant deactivation in an area of the PFC called the left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).

    Altered state

    Georgiadis argues that the OFC may be the basis of sexual control - and perhaps only by letting go, so to speak, can orgasm be achieved. He suggests this deactivation may be the most telling example of an "altered state of consciousness" and one not seen, as yet, during any other type of activity.

    "I don't think orgasm turns off consciousness but it changes it," he says. "When you ask people how they perceive their orgasm, they describe a feeling of a loss of control." Georgiadis suggests that perhaps orgasm offsets systems that usually dominate attention and behaviour. "I'm not sure if this altered state is necessary to achieve more pleasure or is just some side effect," he says. It is possible that the inability to let go and reach this altered state may be what prohibits individuals with anorgasmia from reaching climax.
    I'm reminded of Sigmund Freud's Life(libido) and Death Drives. The Life Drive, or libido, would be the aggregate of forces that propel the Self to live; these are: "survival, propagation, hunger, thirst, and sex". The Death Drive would be repetitive habits we consciously, but mostly unconsciously, take on that propel ourselves to an expected, determined(and, in extreme cases, such as that of OCD and suicidal persons, intended) death, or "self-destruction".

    http://changingminds.org/disciplines...ath_drives.htm
    Eros

    Eros (the life drive/instinct, libido) is concerned with the preservation of life and the preservation of the species, It thus appears as basic needs for health, safety and sustenance and through sexual drives. It seeks both to preserve life and to create life.

    Eros is associated with positive emotions of love, and hence pro-social behavior, cooperation, collaboration and other behaviors that support harmonious societies.

    Thanatos

    Thanatos (the death drive/instinct, mortido, aggression) appears in opposition and balance to Eros and pushes a person towards extinction and an 'inanimate state'.

    Freud saw drives as moving towards earlier states, including non-existence.
    ‘The aim of all life is death...inanimate things existed before living ones’ (Freud 1920)

    Thanatos is associated with negative emotions such as fear, hate and anger, which lead to anti-social acts from bullying to murder (perhaps as projection of the death drive).

    Repetition

    Freud also noted that we have a strong drive to repeat things, even to the point where is is harmful to us. This is at the root of several disorders, in particular Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
    Rocking helps a baby sleep and traumatized adults will return to foetal position and rock frenetically.

    Fixation is a particular effect that leads to repetition where the person is unable to remove their attention from something or someone.


    The reason why I believe this is relevant to the study is because of the repetitive nature of sexual stimulation, which is, in essence, a drive towards a climactic end(represented as Death for analogous purposes). Yet, at the same time, sexual stimulation is a means to perpetuate life, making sexual stimulation, simultaneously, part of both the Life and Death drives. And orgasms, as mentioned in the study, with people speaking of "letting go", is clearly analogous to the end of Life and acceptance of Death. Orgasm, theoretically, is a synthesis of the Life and Death drives, and, practically, is a fundamental link in the existence and continuation of Life.

    So, I find all this to be related to the topic of this thread, which is Orgasms and their relation to Altered States of Consciousness. Using what I've already explained, I believe orgasms do open up a metaphorical gate to higher or altered consciousness as orgasms are a fulfillment of the Ego's role to Live and to Die, which is nothing short of numinous.
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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post
    Swell reduction. Send us a postcard when you finally get there.
    Lol

    K0rpsey will fucking cut you.
    But, for a certainty, back then,
    We loved so many, yet hated so much,
    We hurt others and were hurt ourselves...

    Yet even then, we ran like the wind,
    Whilst our laughter echoed,
    Under cerulean skies...

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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post
    Swell reduction. Send us a postcard when you finally get there.
    You'll be dead by then, Gomer.
    (i)NTFS

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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeSeeCold View Post
    You'll be dead by then, Gomer.
    Oh, I wasn't aware you'd dedicated your life to sexual abstinence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rpsey View Post
    Oh, I wasn't aware you'd dedicated your life to sexual abstinence.
    Dedication is a strong word.

    Though, besides the ad hominem you're attempting, what's even more interesting is that if you had read my post, you would notice that from the subject, you're directing your libido towards me, as I'm an environmental threat. You'd rather engage in a familiar activity rather than try something new - which is an attempt to master your environment, as you choose repetition over adaptation.


    Will you construct another one of your fallacious and deflective retorts(the devil you know?)? In vain, I won't be there to reply.
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    very interesting article, but i feel like i've come to learn some of this already... no pun intended.

    Georgiadis argues that the OFC may be the basis of sexual control - and perhaps only by letting go, so to speak, can orgasm be achieved. He suggests this deactivation may be the most telling example of an "altered state of consciousness" and one not seen, as yet, during any other type of activity.

    "I don't think orgasm turns off consciousness but it changes it," he says. "When you ask people how they perceive their orgasm, they describe a feeling of a loss of control." Georgiadis suggests that perhaps orgasm offsets systems that usually dominate attention and behaviour. "I'm not sure if this altered state is necessary to achieve more pleasure or is just some side effect," he says. It is possible that the inability to let go and reach this altered state may be what prohibits individuals with anorgasmia from reaching climax.
    does anyone know what happens to the OFC under the influence of LSD? because sex on acid is by far the most physically/sexually/emotionally intense orgasmic thing i've ever experienced in my life, where even touching someone's arm is just too much stimulation. LSD seems to involve a lot of "loss of control" in regards to your ego and stuff too, so just wondering. might be interesting
    maybe a saint is just a dead prick with a good publicist
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    Quote Originally Posted by borderline View Post
    very interesting article, but i feel like i've come to learn some of this already... no pun intended.



    does anyone know what happens to the OFC under the influence of LSD? because sex on acid is by far the most physically/sexually/emotionally intense orgasmic thing i've ever experienced in my life, where even touching someone's arm is just too much stimulation. LSD seems to involve a lot of "loss of control" in regards to your ego and stuff too, so just wondering. might be interesting
    Wow I'd like to hear more about your experience on LSD. Then again... I think sex on any kind of drug, be it stimulant, depressant, hallucinogen, etc is "better" or more enhanced in some way.

    It would be very interesting to contrast and compare how it feels under the different kinds of drugs. I imagine that for me, stimulants = awesome. I can't handle hallucinogens of any kind and I've had drunken sex.. eh.

    I've heard amazing things about sex on cocaine and ecstasy/MDMA


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    Quote Originally Posted by ScarlettLux View Post
    Wow I'd like to hear more about your experience on LSD. Then again... I think sex on any kind of drug, be it stimulant, depressant, hallucinogen, etc is "better" or more enhanced in some way.

    It would be very interesting to contrast and compare how it feels under the different kinds of drugs. I imagine that for me, stimulants = awesome. I can't handle hallucinogens of any kind and I've had drunken sex.. eh.

    I've heard amazing things about sex on cocaine and ecstasy/MDMA
    okay so i just wrote a long response to this but decided this threads the wrong place ahah

    started a thread here tho: http://www.the16types.info/vbulletin...140#post776140
    maybe a saint is just a dead prick with a good publicist
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    go ask the frog what the scorpion knows

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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeSeeCold View Post
    Dedication is a strong word.
    Or just a garden variety noun. Nice non-answer anyways.

    OK, you're celibate (???), and maybe even voluntarily so. Well, why? It may be that you've answered a divine mandate to maintain your unpolluted state. That's on the quaint side but still respectable. Or perhaps you've made a promise to a dying friend or relative to do the same (remain chaste, I mean, not go tits up). Alright, I can dig it. Honoring the departed, right? Orrrrrrrrrrrr...you've accepted a lucrative wager from a chum, or begun a course of ascetic privation to cleave ever nearer the ineffable. Cool, cool. How about seminal retention for tantric magick, or accumulating orgone? Can't say I've given either one a go but it's entirely possible they could produce interesting results (after all, TOPY claimed to have toppled the Berlin wall via ritual masturbation). What if you've mapped your whole life out and this is part and parcel of your master plan to perfect living? If so that's a bit high on the anal deathgrip scale, especially for a Freud-loving NT (did you see what I did there?), but I suppose that's understandable in a way as well. Oh, whoa, wait up: what if your abstinence is a requisite for initiation into an occult order? That'd be valuable for the bragging rights alone. Yup. All fine reasons for saying no to the good stuff, if doing so happens to be your bag.

    But then...but then there are involuntary reasons, and their causes are all a serious drag. Simply put, if proclaiming yourself celibate is merely self-comforting rationalization compensating for social ineptitude, musculo-skeletal deformity, dermal lesions, mayhem or accidental mutilation, resistance to proper hygiene, gynophobia, mysophobia, or any other infirmities or complexes that keep your junk forbidden to the ladies, well, hey — it is what it is, and however you slice it you'll have hardly been the first to be so afflicted. But chin up, buckaroo, there's a two-ply silver lining: not only are you probably free from fault, but this is the stuff saints are made from, too.

    And before it slips my mind, a quick aside, especially since this this a great opportunity for it: feel free to shout "projection!" at any point along the way. It's quite the popular cry and you might find it emotionally or tactically useful. Not only does it allow you to obfuscatorially project the appearance of projection and even counter-project projections of projection, but best of all, it's traditionally an allegation that's rarely even adduced. So don't worry about busting your hump to make a solid case. No one really cares as long as it sounds right! And the state of politics in our increasingly modern age proves more than ever that perception trumps reality. Especially when you're the sly genius type who sidles up against powerful elites who can amplify your influence through hidden means. Projection, avant!

    Though, besides the ad hominem you're attempting, what's even more interesting is that if you had read my post
    "If I'd read your post." I like that word "if" quite a bit, as you might recall. How about you hazard a guess as to whether I gave it a look (DIVERSION! SAY IT!). And hey, don't tell me you're suggesting that you've never expediently or whimsically employed ad homs and other rhetorical mischief. That would be an outrageous lie, and one to cause our good buddy Aristotle to do the worm in his grave. "Harrumph harrumph", you harrumph, you've said nothing of the kind; I'm hallucinating, I'm off my tiny trolley, or maybe just inferring what was never insinuated. I get it: you got me. But I'm aware you grasp my meaning quite well. Oh snap, maybe that was projection, too...

    you would notice that from the subject, you're directing your libido towards me, as I'm an environmental threat.
    And what danger, pray tell, does a stuffed shirt present? Or a sparring dummy, for that matter?

    You'd rather engage in a familiar activity rather than try something new - which is an attempt to master your environment, as you choose repetition over adaptation.
    Ah, yes, you're regurgitating what you've drawn from that counter-bamboozlement website, changing minds with Changing Minds. You certainly sound like you're reading from a prepared script, so the content there must have struck your fancy. It's likely you've pored over a handful of other sites like it, too, and maybe even lost precious sleep in the bargain. You know, if I weren't the type to be suspicious of flattery I'd almost be inclined to cons... Well, no. Not only do I get a ripping snort out of your carefully engineered pratfalls but several others do too, so it's perfectly natural for venom to drip from the lacerations in your unintentionally buffoonish heart. You never meant to clown center stage after all, as you've lamented before.

    Anyhow, don't climb too far up on your hobbyhorse or its next buck might spell your doom. And I'd hate to see your entertainment value decreased. But maybe I've missed the point here and all you really want is a hug or a friendly chuck under the chin. Is that what you're pining for? The unconditional acceptance of a big brother? A big daddy? You know me and Fe, not really my strongest suit. Or is it? Perhaps I'm actually that crypto-IEI of your dreams after all and hiding my true nature by switching a third of my socio-letters to ILI. After all, I'm 33% sneaky. Squares inside hexagons inside squares inside hexagons...

    Will you construct another one of your fallacious and deflective retorts(the devil you know?)?
    Will you continue to artlessly parade your glaring mendacity while sanctimoniously denying your reflexive recourse to such a thing? I prefer to assume you've self-awareness of this near-constant and possibly morbid proclivity, but your conspiracy paranoia and other cognitive defects often give me pause to wonder: are your self-sabotaging ego defenses really as autonomic and invisible to you as they often seem? I dare you to convincingly and truthfully explain your history of cheap prevarications instead of slinking off to your hidey hole again while muttering about confirmation bias and other pride-soothing excuses.

    In vain, I won't be there to reply.
    And yet inwardly you've already dwelt there in anticipation, and so you'll remain in anxious waiting, whether you peck out a response here or not. In fact your flimsy oath smacks of auto-suggestion. If that's the case, be a good fellow and inform us of how that pans out. Should your report be positive I might make trial of that technique myself.

    I want to express my hearty gratitude for yet another quasi-identical do-si-do. See you on the next go-round. And don't miss anything on your checklist while scrutinizing my oh-so-predictable reply, you subtle ambush master, you. I'd hate for the trophy collection inside your invincible bait shack to fall short of its potential glory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by borderline View Post
    does anyone know what happens to the OFC under the influence of LSD? because sex on acid is by far the most physically/sexually/emotionally intense orgasmic thing i've ever experienced in my life, where even touching someone's arm is just too much stimulation. LSD seems to involve a lot of "loss of control" in regards to your ego and stuff too, so just wondering. might be interesting
    Ego boundaries while on a goodly dose of LSD are almost nonexistent. Sex at this time with a partner with whom one is inadequately comfortable can lead to unsettling apparitions, such as when I kissed a manipulative girlfriend and witnessed with closed x-ray eyes as she sucked the living pneuma from my lungs and into hers, a mortifying scene to behold*. With a suitably trustworthy lover the phenomenal aspects of sex become wildly synaestheic and psychic union of seemingly vast depth and dimensionality can be reached. This occurs not only with one another in body and mind (and soul if you're wont to entertain such things, and on acid it's almost certain that you will, regardless of your undrugged ontology) but also with your immediate surroundings and the universe at large. And so when the orgasmic pinnacle is attained and personal identity is temporarily obliterated and subsumed within the singular now-ness of The All, the experience is felt far more powerfully and along a myriad-fold more epistemic axes than is possible without this artificial enhancement.

    As an added bonus, erections capable of pounding nails are possible for hours and post-ejaculatory refraction time is reduced, sometimes even to zero.

    * I broke the embrace with my wicked woman and, while thinking of how she often tried to mislead and exploit me, I experienced an unexpected hallucination of the old Arby's mascot. Getting my wires badly entangled in all these phantom happenings, I wound up blurting out, "You treat me like a goddamn cowboy hat thing on a cheeseburger!"

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