Monday, 20 June 2011


Extract from Sylvere Lotringer, Overexposed: Treating Sexual Perversion in America:

Dr. Sachs, the clinic's director, enters behind us, hands in his white jacket.
"This study," he explains, "evolved out of some experimental movies with measurement of pupil size. If this is the eye, and here is the pupil looking down, we spray infrared light across the eye and the camera picks up the amount of light on the diameter of the pupil. It records scans continuously, sixty times a second. Now what we do is present stimuli, various types of sexual activity, in a number of categories: black-and-white pictures of nude girls and boys, a naked girl on a bed, for example, legs wide apart, showing genitalia, a boy standing behind a chair, penis erect; adolescents: a young man taking his pants down, a young woman naked, kneeling on a bed; adult males or females: a close-up of a man's torso and genitals, a naked woman touching her breast and vagina: four scenes depicting someone being exhibited to: a girl opening the door with an expression of surprise; four scenes dealing with frottage: a male hand on a woman's tight jeans; four sadistic-type scenes of someone tied up: a naked woman with both head and heavy breasts tightly bound; and four neutral scenes. You watch these slides for seven seconds at a time."
"What do you mean by neutral scenes?"
"That's the result of an investigation I did some time ago on how to alter arousal patterns. I was using a switching process, going from deviant to nondeviant. I wanted to see if you could generate a general arousal where it didn't exist before. I looked for something that could be easily visualized, that the person could imagine and see, and yet had no sexual value at all. I selected something from around the area - I was in Mississippi at the time - something that no-one could possibly be attracted to."
"What was that?"
"A magnolia tree."
"A magnolia tree? Did you choose a tree because it recalls an erection?"
"Does it? Uh... well, it could be deflowered, but that's not the point." He takes out a file. "Look right here at this graph. It's a single-case experimental design - that means that the patient is used as his own control. F1 is a multiple baseline of cross-behaviors. You can see that the individual masturbating to this particular stimulus got it up to 31 percent of an erection."
"You mean that the tree was actually eroticized?"
"Does it prove that you can get people aroused to anything?"
"Well, the person wasn't aroused to trees before."

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