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Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies
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Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  14 reviews
In this fascinating and provocative book, Dr. Michael Bader offers a groundbreaking new theory of sexual desire. Drawing on his twenty-five years as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst, Dr. Bader demonstrates that rather than being programmed by biology or society, sexual fantasies and preferences are really psychological antidotes to unconscious dangers. Armed with this n ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 18th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 12th 2002)
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  183 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Adrian Colesberry
Jun 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a marvelous book. At the very end, Bader tosses off a sweeping philosophical statement that provides a key to his thinking. In a few sentences, he discards the Freudian fantasies of perverted, sadistic children whose original impulses are more or less directly expressed in adult human "perversions" such as an obsession with anuses or high heels or punishment. Instead, with compassion and the kind of common sense that is all too rare in the professionally trained of any profession, he pro ...more
Heather Shaw
It's not "arousal" that I recently read, it's "Male Sexuality: Why Women Don't Understand It --And Men Don't Either."

Okay at first I wasn't much impressed. The book seemed standard fare as in fantasies are a way of dealing with childhood trauma and adult fears. But then, I got to thinking -- maybe pornography, dominance issues, and prostitution aren't generally dealt with from a fear/trauma perspective. Bader's point, for example, that some men worry too much about taking care of or not hurting
Kent Winward
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an embarrassment of riches on understanding sexual fantasies without judgment and with a focus on to the inner self. Reading the book is a little bit like getting psychoanalyzed, but in a very good way. Why do we fantasize the way we do in all our individual peculiarities? Because our brains are going to figure out how to get us aroused safely. In that context, the outer shell gets broken and our true inner demons, often that have nothing to do with sex, are exposed. Thinking about ...more
Rev Yemaja
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This author has helped me understand my own sexuality. As a survivor of rape this book has revolutionised my love life. I have been set free from survivor guilt.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An extremely effective, if unusual, way to understand the most hidden and perplexing parts of yourself. This guy makes a lot of sense!
Jun 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is giving me more to think about with regard to sex and what is considered pathological. It's a very interesting read.
Stephen MD
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ground-breaking study. Bader's main thesis, that successful fantasies (the ones that reliably get you excited) are the ones that manage to bypass the parts of your mental life that might get in the way. And the more imposing the blocks are in the way of your sexuality, the more intricate and exacting your fantasies might have to be to get around them.

The ideal situation is to have had trusting, encouraging, and rich enough childhood experiences with caregivers that later in adult life you can b
Not what I expected

As the author said, every person and every mind is different, so this book doesn't offer a good framework for sexual fantasies, just a set of few examples that area talked again and again during the book.
Aalok Wyckid
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
The ideas in the book are thought provoking, but the book is written in a way that makes reading it a slog. I give it's content 5 stars, but I have to take 2 back for the writing.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Some interesting thoughts, but I think I'll stick to Jack Morin.
Robb Seaton
Jan 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book attempts to apply psychoanalytic techniques to sexual desire and it goes about as well as you'd expect. I'd wager most readers will come away with a less accurate self model than if they'd never encountered this work.

Here is a particularly egregious example. The author writes, on rape fantasies, that they are "[c]ommon among men, and infrequent among women." Uh, dude, have you ever read a romance novel? How can someone setting out to be a kink authority get this so wrong? Rape play is
Patrick Stein
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
In some ways, this book is an interesting break from Freud. Sexual fantasies, rather than being a product of a primordial stew of fear of castration and lust for your mother, are interpreted as coping mechanisms for guilt, shame, fear, etc.

Despite that break, sexual fantasies are still pathologized here. It goes from “you had childhood trauma that caused these wack fantasies, you freakin’ pervert” to “you had childhood trauma that caused these wack fantasies, uh, ...dude?...”.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read, of course the analysis isn't too scientific, but there are interesting theories posited about common sexual fantasies.
Feb 23, 2010 rated it liked it
I actually finished this book over the weekend, but I've been putting off reviewing it because I haven't really been sure what I wanted to say about it.

I was drawn to pick it up when I saw it at the library a couple of weeks back partly because I'm going through an intellectual "learning more about sexuality" kick at the moment, and partly because there are parts of my own sexuality and psyche I've always been frustrated about not understanding - parts of me where I really, really want to know *
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Dr. Michael Bader is a psychologist and psychoanalyst with over 30 years of clinical experience. He received a Doctor of Mental Health degree at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1980, and became licensed as a Clinical Psychologist in January 1984, he currently combines a private practice in San Francisco with his work as a senior advisor for the Institute4Change, an interdisciplinar ...more