The last part of the brain to receive information is the Neocortex which overlays the mammalian brain, where our human sexuality is defined. The mammalian brain overrides the crude survival instincts of the lizard brain to make bonding and social co-operation possible. In humans the mammalian brain is enlarged and combines with the neocortex. This brings our unique higher functions of abstract thought, speech and problem solving into the behavioural mix.
The sexuality influenced by this area of the brain is characterised by a compassionate consideration of the other, shared plans and a longer-term commitment. Sex becomes the consummation of a considered commitment, often of the ‘’till death do us part’ kind. We can mate for life, if we so choose.
Surely now we can take all the raw lizard-brained sex, combine it with the loving and nurturing mammalian-brained sexuality, and put it intentionally into the context of a long-term commitment. Is this a recipe for human happiness?
Unfortunately the choice is so often clouded by morality. Is lizard-brained sexuality wrong? Is our mammalian-brained sexuality better? Is the ultimately good and right sexual expression found in being monogamously committed to one person for life? Morality always brings along its dark shadow, shame.
The structure of our brain means that it receives information sequentially. It arrives first in the lizard brain and then via the mammalian brain comes into consciousness in our aspirational brain. Our first thoughts and impulses thus so easily embarrass and make us feel ashamed.
However, shame is more and more being recognised for the control mechanism it is. This has often been unhealthy when used to control individuals for the sake of social conformity. When embraced positively shame can be a very helpful guide to achieving personal integrity. It does this by alerting us when we cross our own boundaries. This awareness only comes when we unhitch it from externally imposed morals. Then we have to consciously reconnect it to our own chosen values.
A good first step is unbiased self-acceptance. Although we are animals, we have the ability to choose the way we live. History is littered with evidence of what psychology knows – if we deny ourselves in unhealthy ways we just store up an inevitable reaction.
‘If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.’ Matthew 3:25 NIV
Living in personal integrity is a path that only the brave can choose. It promises a happiness based on inner contentment and not external circumstances. But it means challenging accepted norms whilst embracing our own unique way of being. However, the compassion needed to achieve this for ourselves can then be extended to others to build a social harmony that embraces diversity. This trend is evidenced by the acceptance of different ways of relating such as through tinder hookups, friends-with-benefits, same-sex unions, swinging and polyamory.
If you are inspired or challenged to explore your sexuality and need advice or guidance then please contact me on 07933 709169 or email me here.
(Inspired by a talk given by Ron Levine at SCU)