What I Realized About Sexual Fantasies at Disneyland

sexual fantasiesRecently, I went to Disneyland with my wife and son. One of the many attractions we enjoyed was the Indiana Jones ride. Have you ever been? It’s not one that’s easy to forget. I became anxious before the ride, which I’ll tell you about. And I realized that how I dealt with my anxiety was a helpful metaphor for how sexual fantasies work.


The metaphor isn’t perfect, but I’m hoping to show you how sexual fantasies can work. Understanding them can help extremely helpful, especially when healing from porn or sex addiction.


Indiana Jones and the Anxiety of Doom

We used our Fastpass to bypass most of the line. I was wearing a hat, sunglasses, and my phone in my back pocket. I watched the monitors that these kinds of rides nowadays have around as you prepare to get on the ride.


I listened closely to Sallah (remember Indy’s friend?) on the televisions. He told me to be sure to place loose articles in the mesh bag on the back of the seat of front of me, because the ride is quite turbulent. Not doing so, Sallah said, would risk losing them.


As I took a few steps in line, I was surprised that I began to feel a little anxious. What would I do with my phone and sunglasses? On the Guardians of the Galaxy ride (do not eat before this one), I had held on to my phone and sunglasses with one hand, albeit with a death grip. I figured I could do it again.


Forget Being Afraid of Snakes—What If I Lose My Phone?

But then, as I boarded the ride, an attendant motioned to me, encouraging me to take off my hat. Really? If he was worried about my hat falling off, I was worried about keeping my grip on my phone.


Pursing my lips, I put my hat, sunglasses, and my phone (gulp) into the mesh bag on the back of the seat in front of me.


Even though the mesh bag was deep and my stuff was very likely going to be fine in there, I was still anxious as the ride started. I noticed I was still worried about losing my phone especially.


I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to be able to have any fun while I was worrying so much about my stupid phone.


Anxiety Handled

So with one hand holding onto bar to prevent myself from bouncing around too much, I gingerly placed a hand on my phone in the mesh bag to make sure it stayed in there throughout the ride.


I gently pressed my phone down into the bottom of the mesh bag throughout all of the twists, turns, bumps, and boulders.


I found that doing so made me feel less anxious and allowed me to enjoy the ride.


I was with Indy every step of the way. At the end of the journey, my phone found its way to my back pocket again. I could feel its reassuring weight and heft with every stride.


Where Sexual Fantasies Come In

So what in the world do sexual fantasies have to do with my boring story about how I was irrationally afraid about losing my phone?


Turns out, more than you’d think.


One way of thinking about how sexual fantasies work is that they suspend beliefs and feelings that make it difficult for us to become sexually aroused otherwise.

One way of thinking about how sexual fantasies work is that they suspend beliefs and feelings that make it difficult for us to become sexually aroused otherwise.


Most of us have feelings of guilt or anxiety about our sexual desires, whether from our family’s attitudes about sex, our faith commitments, or the fear that many men have about being selfish or hurting their partners if they acted on their desires. These beliefs and feelings aren’t always rational and most of the time, they’re not conscious.


Sexual fantasies can allow us to become sexually excited without fear that we’re hurting or offending anyone. Sexual fantasies can counteract our guilt and worry so that we can “enjoy the ride” sexually and become sexually excited. (I should note, though, in the context of recovery from sex and porn addiction, such fantasies can still be very hurtful to partners as it can feel like more betrayal.)


At Disneyland, I had the belief that my phone would fall out of the mesh bag in front of me. Irrational? Sure. But my anxiety meant that I couldn’t enjoy the ride. When I placed my hand on my phone in the bag, I could relax and have fun.


Understanding Your Sexual Fantasies Can Lessen the Power of Sex Addiction or Porn Addiction

As I said, it’s not a perfect analogy. But I hope you see my point. As Michael Bader writes in his book Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies,* “Sexual fantasies and preferences are unconscious created because they are the best solution to the psychological problems associated with our pathogenic [i.e., problematic] beliefs” (p. 68).


Because our beliefs and feelings are deep-rooted and unconscious, understanding our sexual fantasies—whether they’re on a screen (porn and cybersex addiction) or acted on in real life (sex addiction)—can help make them less compelling. That is, if we can understand that these compulsions are solutions to emotional or psychological pain and how they point to that pain, we can then deal with that pain and find other ways of dealing with these often unconscious psychological problems.


Whether it’s through sexual preferences or fantasies, it’s critical to bring into the light of awareness the emotional shackles that bind one to compulsive pornography use or other sexually compulsive behavior.


*This link is an affiliate link and I make a small commission on any sales of this book from this page. 


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Jeremy Mast

Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (CA LMFT90961) in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California.

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