psychology and prostitution

I've been reading this book called "Voluntary Madness" by Norah Vincent. It's a fascinating look into the mental illness industry- I say mental illness because mental health is generally pretty low on the list for these institutions. In the book, she explores her own depression along with the ways different types of institutions manage and "treat" her. I was relieved in many ways to see her come to similar conclusions to my own after having spent some time on both sides of the padded wall, as patient and as psychology student. There's nothing like validation to put a spring in your step, eh?

Anyway, Vincent makes this statement in passing that I found very interesting- now edited to quote directly from the book-

"That is why psychiatry is as bankable and recession-proof as prostitution. There's always a demand for it. I, and other people like me, will never be fine- that is, impervious."

As someone trying to sail the murky waters of sex work while also studying psychology and anthropology to better understand the clients I get, their biases and cultures and classes and contexts, I think this parallel is fascinating and true. As long as people have curiosity about their sexuality, there will be a demand for sex work, and I'd go so far as to suggest there will be a demand regardless of the culture's attitude around shame for your desires. And as long as people feel like they need to ask someone else to validate their feelings, to check their perceptions, someone who isn't close to them, there will be a demand for psychology or something similar. Even in cultures that don't have psychology per se, there is spirituality to fill the gap- someone who would be schizophrenic here is seen as gifted elsewhere, and given a different place in society accordingly.

Considering there's a fair demand for CMTs in the erotic massage world, I'm surprised there isn't more demand for psychologists in the BDSM or escort fields. I mean, sexuality is definitely something scary and dark and deep and, well, crazy, often, based on little fantasies or experiences in childhood that can affect your whole life.

I'm amazed and amused when people tell me that sexuality is too much of a focus in my life, because I think it's a focus in everyone's life- whether you're celibate or slutty, whether you're gay or straight, bi or queer or other, whether you're kinky or vanilla, interested in having kids or not, you have a relationship to sexuality. It defines you, whether you admit it or not, to a certain extent, because it's a driving urge. Even if your relationship to it is to consciously NOT pay attention to it, you're still aware of that relationship. It might shame you, or interest you, titillate or scare, but it's there. It can't not be.

Even outside of you, other people make judgments on you, give and take away rights based on who you have sex with, where, and when- even who you flirt with, who turns your head, who you struggle to attract or push away, will affect how the people around you behave towards you. Sexuality and psychology are entwined, are entangled. Maybe that's part of why I approach sex work differently than my peers on Adult Work or other such sites- I am not just the hooker, the Domme bitch, but the therapist, as much touching the mind and emotions as the body.

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