Is VICTORIAN sex the key to a more passionate love life? (The Daily Mail)

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Is VICTORIAN sex the key to a more passionate love life? Controversial technique from the 19th century promises to improve any relationship

  • The practice of karezza encourages a focus on intimacy rather than orgasm 
  • The phrase, which is taken from the Italian word for 'caress', was coined by Chicago obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham in 1896
  • By not having a 'finish line' couples will experience sexual energy for longer

Relationship experts are constantly coming up with newfangled ways to make sex more exciting for couples, but some specialists claim that when it comes to passion the Victorians had it right.

In a new book, London-based sex therapists Mike Lousada and Louise Mazanti reveal that a bedroom trend from the 19th century could be the key to better sex and closer intimacy.

The practice, karezza, encourages both men and women to abstain from orgasm during sex, in order to allow both partners to enjoy longer, and more intense, periods of sexual energy.

The word karezza was coined by Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham in 1896, a Chicago obstetrician and gynecologist, who was only the fifth woman to become a doctor in the United States. 

Dr. Stockham was an outspoken feminist who crusaded for birth control, a ban on corsets and sexual fulfillment for both men and women. 

Rather than focusing on physical desires karezza, derived from the Italian carezza which means caress, encourages couples to focus on intimacy involving eye gazing and light touching. 

The practice, which was also known as coitus reservatus, or sexual continence, was highly controversial in the Victorian era, however still proved popular among more forward-thinking couples.

And now, Lousada and Manzati, authors of Real Sex, claim that by implementing the practice of karezza in their own sex lives, modern-day couples can learn to appreciate 'subtle sensations' that often go unnoticed.

Speaking to the Metro they said: ‘The point of the exercise is to move away from friction-based sex and to create an awareness of more subtle but equally pleasurable sensations.  

‘When we really tune in to these sensations, a bit like electricity running through our body, then our whole body can become orgasmic. 

'This creates a full-body orgasm that can last as long as we chose for it to, instead of the rather brief type of genital orgasm that we refer to as a ‘pelvic sneeze’.’ 

Their theory is supported by doctors and karezza has been seen as a natural alternative to Viagra, and possibly a cure for sexual dysfunction, or lack of desire, in women.

Exploring the connections between sexual behavior, neurochemistry, and relationship harmony, doctors have found that 80 different regions of the brain reach their maximum activity during orgasm.

This overstimulation of the pleasure receptors can desensitise the brain to pleasure or create a craving for more, leading to unhealthy cravings and an imbalance in the brain's harmony. 

Research shows that in karezza sexual energy continues to flow as there is no 'finish line', which advocates say helps to prevent boredom with a partner. 


  • Smiling, with eye contact 
  • Gazing into each others eyes for several moments 
  • Synchronised breathing 
  • Cradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso 
  • Holding, or spooning, each other in stillness for at least twenty minutes to a half-hour 
  • Wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure 
  • Stroking, hugging and massaging with intent to comfort, rather than gain something 
  • Lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to his or her heartbeat for several moments 
  • Touching and sucking of nipples/breasts 
  • Gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort 
  • Making time together at bedtime a priority, even if one partner has to get up and work on something afterward

Original article





Seems kind of inaccurate to be equating Victorian era sexuality with karezza. At least, from what I understand about it from those who've been able to practice it.

Different Folks Have Different Preferences...

...some like red, some like blue, some like sunny weather, some like shady weather. So, I can understand why the article does not ring everyone's chimes.

But, I am happy to see others with a public platform proclaim the magic of Karezza. I hope some who are receptive to repairing their marriage or relationship have their eyes opened.

Has anyone read the book? Is it a worthwhile complement to Cupid's Poisoned Arrow? If yes, I may read it.

This blog post by her seems like a bit of a rushed approach, though:

In my experience, intercourse is very, very powerful, for both female and male. It does not make sense to me to rush into it with a stranger, if that is what she is proposing in her blog post. But, maybe I do not have the full context of her thoughts.

Might be better

This might be a little better of an article in certain ways. The word "Victorian" though just conjures up all kinds of negative associations for me. As a baby-boomer, I think it would...perhaps. Something for me to think about. I'd give this one article though a little higher rating than the other two, probably because it attempts to integrate the the idea of "Modern" with "Victorian."

Thank you

for the article. It's a little more upbeat. I like it better than even the last one. However, the Victorian era makes me think of corsets, hypocrites, Herman Melville's, Heart of Darkness, Imperialism and Colonialism. I am truly sorry to be so critical. I guess the strategy isn't working for me. Maybe I need to go back and review the history and literature of that era.


Sorry, I meant Joseph Conrad, I might have also been thinking about Melville's, Moby Dick (or The White Whale). It's been a while since I've read those books, but they were both written in the Victorian era.

A line I still remember from Moby Dick: "It's a mutual joint-stock world in all meridians. We cannibals most help these Christians."

Another one I remember that makes me think of our lizard brain: ""Oh! Ahab," cried Starbuck, "not too late is it, even now, the third day, to desist. See! Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!"

That was from Chapter CXXXV - The Chase -Third Day.

Ahab lost his leg to the White Whale in a previous encounter, so his madness had something to do with that. Makes me think though, what happens to us neuro-chemically when we lose our semen. I think it makes us a little off-balance, if not crazy, as well, at least until we can regain homeostasis.

Sure is,

and it could be that progress is not actually so slow. but that it just seems that way on the surface. Could be that the apparent slowness is due to the processing of other unseen forces and factors. Karezza may well be a direct way to work with sexual desire, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum. As a concept, It may be connected to and supported by other influences, some of which might have to do with the basic assumptions of various groups of people in our society. With all of the divisiveness that I am seeing I can only think of one sure way to encourage unity, and that is through dialogue. Dialogue can change the spirit of how we relate to each other in groups and among individuals. Once we start to see how alike we all are, and how much we all want the same basic things, the need to blow our minds with this or that drug or orgasm might start to diminish. This then may create an environment that becomes more accepting of something like karezza, and other kinds of wholesome approaches to fulfilling our basic needs. David Bohm's book, "On Dialogue" comes to mind. Most people assume they know what dialogue is, but Bohm's proposal is not based on the popular notion of that.

So, those are just my little thoughts...something that might be considered. Seems to me that whatever is going on is of a systemic or societal nature. Ahabs keep popping up all over the place, and they are all in that lizard brain mode, competing with each other for the Big Catch. So, it seems...

Yes, of course...

Bohm (a great physicist) says in Chapter 2 of his book that he gives "a meaning to the word 'dialogue' that is somewhat different from what is commonly used." He was always interested in word derivations and sees that they often suggest a deeper meaning. Logos means "the word" and dia means "through" it doesn't mean two. Bohm says, "The picture or image that this derivation suggests is of a *stream of meaning* flowing among and through us and between us...out of which can emerge some new understanding...something new which may not have been in the starting point at all. It's something creative. And this shared meaning is the "glue" or "cement" that holds people and societies together."

He contrasts the word "dialogue" with the word "discussion." He mentions that "discussion" has the same root as "percussion" and "concussion." Discussion has to do with breaking things apart, analyzing, and everyone will have a different view, or opinion, and will be operating from various basic assumptions. So, that is all certainly of value, but Bohm explains that it is limited and won't get us very far beyond our various points of view. He compares it to a game of ping-pong that has to do with winning and losing. So, it's all about raking up points and it can turn into things like posturing and positioning and always trying to come out on top, while everyone else becomes a loser. So, what happens is that things can get further divided and fragmented.

Bohm says that in a dialogue, nobody is trying to win. If anybody wins it will be everyone. He says there is a different spirit in dialogue. The way he sees dialogue is that it really is about questioning our fundamental assumptions, getting underneath all of that and getting down to what he calls the "tacit ground."

Basically, whereas discussion (or debate, argumentation, etc.) has to do with breaking things apart, dialogue has more to do with joining things together, or with keeping people together. The book gets into much detail about how to work with dialogue. He addresses the whole notion of "thought" itself, and he says that dialogue is about going into "the process of thought behind the assumptions, not just the assumptions themselves." Most often what we end up doing in our discussions, negotiations, debates, etc. is defending our assumptions, so then we limit ourselves from getting into the deeper meanings of things, and from the possibility of any kind of intimacy with, and understanding of, what is going on collectively in the group, in ourselves or between two people.

Dialogue then is simply about listening deeply and speaking deeply, and respect. It's not easy though, which is why most people won't get involved with it seriously, and would rather just defend their assumptions, etc. Dialogue requires exercising some restraint, showing respect, and it can require what Bohm refers to as "suspension" rather than reactivity or repression or suppression. It can take a good while in a dialogue before everyone starts to feel some degree of ease with the process. It can take weeks, months, even years, but it's well worth it because it's not about winning and losing. Indigenous tribes have worked with dialogue in this way, so it is nothing new. However, the kind of dialogues we see at the United Nations are very limited, they aren't the real thing from what I can see. Dialogue changes people and groups. They become more cooperative even as they retain their diversity. It removes a lot of the aggression and violence that can result from fighting each other to the death over this or that belief, idea, view or whatever. This then creates an environment that values or at least respects wholesome approaches to living, such as karezza, for one. "smile"

Wow, that was longer than a moment, and I am feeling I haven't dealt with the question sufficiently. It's a great book though. I would certainly recommend it to anyone with an interest in uniting and reuniting people everywhere.


That was fascinating. It reminds me of a lesson I learned from a brilliant Russian immigrant classmate at law school. He never minded saying, "I don't understand" (a particular concept or whatever). That phrase was seldom heard among the rest of my classmates. But I realized that if he could say that (with his two PhDs in physics while obtaining a law degree as well), then I jolly well could too.

And it has been a very useful phrase. It's the sound of an open mind, and I've learned all kinds of things I never would have on the old plan. Mail 1

Dialogues of the kind you describe have often awed me. It's remarkable what can come through, in terms of inspiration, when everyone feels free to brainstorm, offer partial thoughts, and so forth, and still be respected and heard.

You're welcome,

and thanks for asking. "I don't understand," sounds like outright honesty. Conversation is another concept very similar to dialogue. Conversation to me has a sense of flexibility, open-mindedness and of being able to reflect among those who are engaging it. Etymologically it seems to mean something like, "to turn or bend with or together." I feel like what we do here on these forums is good conversation. I really appreciate all of the sharing from everyone.

I guess I originally just wanted to relate the idea of dialoguing or conversing with what karezza seems to be a lot about, which is a lot of give and take without rushing or trying to exploit or gain power over something. I'm not sure if you could see that I was trying to make that connection.

I then just wanted to relate that I feel that perhaps the reason it seems progress is slow (and I assume you mean with respect to seeing karezza as a perfectly valid way to express our sexuality) is because of what we seem to be caught up in societally, which is a lot of divisiveness. My feeling is that a lot of people are becoming aware of this divisiveness and there is a lot of trial and error going on in trying to deal with it. I see all of that as progress. Since things seem to go in cycles we may be approaching a point where we can start to see the value of dialogue. I view that as an alternative way to communicate with each other, much like the way I view karezza as an alternative approach to sexuality. So, it's all a process in which I think it is just taking some time for society to catch up to certain paradigms, like dialogue, and sex without orgasm, etc. When I look at the overall picture though I don't see it as fast or slow since everything is interconnected, and it's all one thing doing what it's been doing since the beginningless beginning.

As much as I like to share ideas, I really don't know anything, and yes there is a lot I don't understand either. Smile

There was life

before the Victorian era. Much more of it than what came after. (The Gnostics come to mind.) Although, at the rate we're going we might be about to exceed that, hence the value of karezza. Now there's a story that grabs me.

"Room with a View," though, I've heard of it. I might have to check it out.


I'm not an enthusiast for written erotica but a few years back I dipped into some of the eleven volumes of My Secret Life by Walter, published in the 1880s.

I found it riveting, though often disturbing. It certainly opened my eyes to the reality of Victorian sex, which was that there was a lot of it going on, despite the widespread fear of pregnancy and disease.

Walter was rapacious in his pursuit of women, and would have been locked up multiple times by today's standards, but his motivation was crystal clear:

"Copulation is the highest pleasure, both to the body and mind, and is worth all other human pleasures put together. A woman sleeping or waking is a paradise to a man, if he be happy with her, and he cannot spend his money on anything better, or so good. "