I was a once a contented product of the sexual revolution--or so I believed. My family was open and sensible about discussing sex, and barely religious. I concluded that orgasm was pure pleasure and the best possible relationship glue.
Finally, a psychiatrist is acknowledging that intense orgasm can create a hangover for some people, without any apparent psychological issues. Maybe as professionals begin to explore the neurochemistry of extreme cases they will realize that the same neurochemical fluctuations are at work in more subtle ways in the problem of habituation between couples (as well as sex addiction).
As we’ve seen in earlier articles, neurochemical urges motivate mammals to eat, drink and have sex. Specifically, dopamine surges in their primitive reward circuitry send them after the things that further their survival—or at least the survival of their genes.
But what about the handful of mammalian species who have evolved to team up in order to do a better job of raising their young? They may get all the food, water and sex they want, and still feel that something is missing—until they are mated.
Carl Jung recounted the following story, told to him by Richard Wilhelm, who lived in China for many years:
There was a great drought where Wilhelm lived; for months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic. The Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers, and the Chinese burned joss-sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result.
Finally the Chinese said, 'We will fetch the rain-maker.' And from another province a dried up old man appeared. The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow-storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumours about the wonderful rain-maker that Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it.
In true European fashion he said: 'They call you the rain-maker; will you tell me how you made the snow?' And the little Chinese said: 'I did not make the snow; I am not responsible.' 'But what have you done these three days?' 'Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order; they are not as they should be by the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came.'”
With evidence this clear that there's something different about intimate relationships, it's only a matter of time before some researcher finally begins to consider the role of our mating neurochemistry in our unions.
If your spouse already bugs you now, the future is bleak. New research suggests couples view one another as even more irritating and demanding the longer they are together.
The same trend was not found for relationships with children or friends.
Dopamine (or dopamine-receptor level) plummets after orgasm. Here scientists artificially induced a dopamine drop in a healthy, extroverted, very well functioning 21-year-old medical student, without even minor psychological difficulties or psychiatric disorders in his family.