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Page Contents: When a psychotherapist gets sexually aroused in the psychotherapy.                    


I’m a [mid thirties] woman seeing a [early fifties] psychiatrist and I was just wondering if it means anything if he gets [sexually aroused] during a session. We were talking about my sexual relations with my boyfriend and I looked over and saw, very clearly, that he had [become aroused]. I didn’t want him to know I saw so I looked away toward the windows in the office. But it was night time, so I could see his reflection in the window, and I saw him glance down at his groin area really quickly. I looked at the floor and acted like I didn’t see it, but when I looked up at him he was beet red and said, “I hope you don’t think I get some kind of voyeuristic gratification out of talking about this.” I said, “No, I don’t believe that at all.” And he said, “Good. Because I don’t.” With the blushing and everything, he seemed like he was being earnest and genuine. The thing is, I’m female and I genuinely don’t know what kinds of things make a man [become aroused] out of the blue like that. I’ve heard it sometimes just happens when they aren’t even thinking sexual thoughts at all, but I have no clue. He seemed very embarrassed, so I’m thinking that’s what happened, but I don’t know.
Is this something that is a common occurrence in therapy that I shouldn’t concern myself with? Do you think I should tell him that I saw it and discuss it with him, or do you think the statement he made means he knows I saw it and we should just let it go?

If a psychotherapist were to become sexually aroused while listening to a client tell about sexual abuse as a child, for example, it would be a clear sign of a perversion within the psychotherapist. In your case, however, you were deliberately speaking about sexually arousing behavior with your boyfriend. That your psychotherapist became aroused in turn points to the conclusion that you were unconsciously trying to arouse him.

The proof of this interpretation can be found in the lies you both told each other.

You said, “No, I don’t believe that at all.” Well, that’s a lie, because your staring at his reflection in the window showed you quite clearly that you did believe he was getting some kind of voyeuristic gratification from you.

And when he said, “Good. Because I don’t,” he was lying, and his blushing betrayed his lie.

All in all, what happened was a mutual lie, and a mutual lie is the essence of seduction.

So what do you do? If you want to get to the core of the unconscious conflicts that brought you into psychotherapy in the first place, you have to speak about this desire to seduce an older man and all the while claim that you don’t know what you are doing. Your psychotherapist, on the other hand, having shown himself a liar, may be “up” for mutual seduction, but whether he is psychoanalytically up to doing the real work of psychotherapy is another matter.


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