Intimacy Vs. Eroticized Rage

After he described his love life, his therapist asked, “Have you heard of the term eroticized rage?”

“No,” he said, “but that rings true. I had a girlfriend, Holly, who said to me, ‘Take out all your rage at women on me in bed.'”

Therapist: “The term relates to sexual intercourse but also how about you treat women. How you get them into bed. How you manipulate. It doesn’t have to be a reaction to the mother figure but it most often is. Men who are sexually compulsive, use women and throw them away, often felt squashed by their mothers. They felt powerless.”

He went home and Googled the term and found this:

In 1975, Robert Stoller described perversion as the “erotic form of hatred.” At the core, he observed sexual behavior that breaks the rules. Social disapproval, judgment, and shame are key to arousal taking place. Currently, eroticized rage has been used as a term to describe the anger that is underneath sexual behavior that is socially unacceptable. This scale strongly taps into a sexual fantasy life that is very opportunistic. The behaviors described are all predatory at some level. The patient may never act on these fantasies, due to social inhibitions or lack of opportunity. More than likely, the affective underpinnings may manifest in other, “more acceptable” behaviors. A high score, however, would prompt the therapist to explore the behavioral dimensions of the SDI very carefully. Clearly treatment would also involve sifting through the collage of potential sources of sexualized rage. Almost always these include one or more of the following possibilities:
• Grievance – revenge, entitlement, and rule breaking are rooted in
some sense of betrayal, hypocrisy, or unfairness. Sexual, physical, and
emotional abuse often set the stage. Partners who are demanding,
difficult, and unresponsive are part of the betrayal scenario. Also
consider bosses, communities, and social injustices as part of
• Insufficiency of Self – a belief in insufficiency can unduly cause despair at meeting personal needs. Co-morbid personality issues would
emerge, including depression, dissociation, and the
compartmentalization of self, character disorders, or the self-absorbed
personality traits of narcissism.
• Vulnerability – arousal which hinges on the vulnerability of self or
others is vital to assessment and treatment. Some of the most
damaging consequences of human sexual behavior reside in the dark
corners of vulnerability. For the therapist, it is critical to determine if
sexual arousal is potentiated by the exposure or vulnerability of self or

Patrick J. Carnes writes:

Rage and anger have long been recognized as a component in sexual violence. Much has been written about the profiles of those who impose their sexual desires on others. Even more has been written about the cultural dynamics between men and women of which such violence is but the tip of the iceberg. As women have gained more political and economic power we also have an emerging clarity about the abuse of women, children – and men.

That clarity has resulted in a new accountability that extends into the most powerful circles of our culture. CEOs of business, church leaders, military officers, and even the nation’s most powerful political leaders have been held accountable for abusing the less powerful. We are in the midst of an incredible paradigm shift about the use of power and our responsibility to others. Many say that protection of the vulnerable and sexual accountability may result in the most significant change in the history of our species. I believe that is true.

Yet, I also believe there is anger that has been sexualized that is not connected to our larger social drama or at best, tangential to it. There are also forms of victimization based on anger that have never been considered in the larger debate. Anger and rage have many faces in human sexual behavior that have been obscured by their erotic content. We have tried to make sense out of sexual behavior without its affective component. Advances in our understanding of trauma, addiction, neurochemistry, and courtship place a whole new perspective on the role of anger in sex.

New sexual freedoms, especially in cyberspace, provide painful clarity about how destructive eroticized rage can be. Anger and sex can be fused in such a way that it is self-perpetuating, self-destructive, and once ignited, independent of culture and even family. Clinicians who do not look for the role of eroticized rage will miss the function or payoff of their patient’s behavior. The purpose of this article is to provide clinicians with a basic discussion of the range of sexual behaviors whose driving force is anger and what to watch for.

I read stories from this workshop to my therapist Friday. He said, “That sounds like eroticized rage.” He said there is a difference between intimacy and eroticized rage.

I have a lot of eroticized rage.

Social disapproval, judgment, and shame can aid rather than retard the pervert’s arousal.

That’s why I love traditional religion. More things are sinful and hence exciting. A religion such as Orthodox Judaism with its thousands of rules is particularly awesome.

As I Googled “eroticized rage” this weekend, I found this advice from Dr. Patrick Carnes, who seems to be the expert in this field: “First, I ask my patients to make explicit their sexual arousal template. What experiences, scenarios, Eroticized Rage objects, preferences, beliefs, and feelings go into arousal for the patient? Is there an “ideal” fantasy, which can be made explicit? The therapist then assists the client in examining arousal and where it comes from.”

I’ve never acted on any of my perverse fantasies except for playing pretend games with girlfriends. While some forms of predatory sexual behavior turn me on, constraints internal, communal and societal restrict my behavior to what I would expect from someone dating a loved one.

I don’t judge myself for having these fantasies. I don’t think I’m a bad person because I have bad thoughts. I take care to treat other people as I would want to be treated and I think I’ve had more success with this commitment than the average bloke.

Acting like a mentch is essential to me, but my fantasies run free.

I love reading news stories about hot female teachers getting arrested for sex with underage male students.

I think that power differential is essential to my fantasies.

I often feel vulnerable to women. One thousand have rejected me for every one who has dated me.

I have always struggled financially and rarely felt powerful in my relationships, except with pathetically loving chicks who I can’t respect because their own lives are more screwed up than my own.

Fantasy momentarily restores my sense of self and then afterwards degrades it. When I imagine certain things happening to haughty chicks, I feel like there’s a good and just God running the universe.

When a girl rejects me or, more painfully, cheats on me, I can lose myself in fantasy.

Then I can tell myself that I don’t hurt so much, things aren’t so bad, and I can deaden my feelings of loss.

I often felt powerless as a kid. I had some caretakers very early on who were highly controlling.

As a teenager, I basically stopped speaking to my mother as I formed my own identity. Yet I fear that that identity is profoundly affected by my feeling powerless as an infant and this has fueled my anger at women and my desire to be predatory and powerful, as though that would even the score. Sex with attractive women feels completing. That hot chick, she’s the missing piece in my puzzle. If only I could have her, use her, conquer her. I’d feel powerful and I’d have another story for my writing workshop.

I don’t think someone who felt in control of his life would be as obsessed as I am with having the power.

I’m a preacher’s kid who converted to Orthodox Judaism. My obsessions are religion and sex.

I never fantasize about loving sex within a committed relationship.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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