In which we have guests, part 31

For the second year in a row, I am turning over the blog to guest posters for the month of December. And for the second year in a row, we’ve had a great response–thirty-three requests for spots! For the next month you’ll be hearing from writers, editors, and other pros on a variety of topics. I always let the guest writers choose their own subject and give them carte blanche while they’re here. There are no limitations on topic or language, and this time we’ve got everything from favorite words to sexsomnia! Since I will be hunkered down doing revisions on the first of my new books for NAL/Penguin, I am turning comments off for the month. Most posters will include links to their own sites if you want to follow up with them. So, I wish you all the best of holiday seasons–peace, prosperity, good health, and a fabulous start to 2015. See you in the new year!

Today we welcome Madeline Iva.

From Hysteria to Sexsomnia: Madeline Iva Discusses Absurd Yet Fashionable Sexual Maladies Throughout History

HYSTERIA: I was surprised to learn that Victorians didn’t invent hysteria.  The ancient Greeks invented it.  They also thought a woman’s uterus sometimes wandered about inside her body.

Yet Victorians added much to the lore of hysteria–-mostly by providing a host of ‘remedies’ for the problem.  These remedies ranged from diabolical to proto-pleasure toys. *Ahem!*

HOMOSEXUALITY: After hysteria went out of fashion, the unnatural relations between people of the same sex came under greater scrutiny.

In some parts of the world, (I’m looking at you, China) they *still* don’t seem to understand women can sexually desire and romantically love other women.

With the rise and gradual spread of gay marriage, homosexuality is finally out of the DSM as a mental illness in western culture, though how much HIV is rampaging through rural China is anybody’s guess.

With homosexuality becoming more accepted, what sexual activity will we fret about next?

NYMPHOMANIA: For a while in the 70’s there was a great stirring over nymphomania, yet all of that has become more hush-hush. Also called sex addiction, nymphomania is a very fraught topic.  The condition is a contested battle ground between mental health professionals, feminist theorists, and everybody’s aunt.

Yes, some say, nymphomania exists.  It is a form of obsessive compulsion with some depressive characteristics thrown in for good measure.  No, others respond, like hysteria, it doesn’t really exist.  The idea of nymphomania is only an ongoing attempt to repress women’s sexuality, and impose false ideas of what “normal” is when it comes to sex for everyone.

Feminists dryly note the disparity between what counts as ‘normal’ for men vs. ‘normal’ for women.  Because of this, Since no one can come to an agreement, Nymphomania has gone back behind the curtain and out of the limelight – only to be replaced by….


ASEXUALITY: After the millenium, advocates and people who identify as asexual began to emerge.  They say that it’s okay for someone to come to maturity and simply not want sex.  Ever.  With anyone.


I know what you’re thinking.  You’re wondering does masturbation count?  No, some say, it does not.  Yes, other asexuals say, it does—and they want to kick anyone who masturbates out of their club.


Some who identify as asexual want many things to count as asexual—including actually wanting sex (but only with one person—they say.  Just one lone individual, not men or women in general—surely that’s okay, etc).


Others who take a more strict approach to asexuality want to exclude anything and everything at all from the asexual category involving sex—up to and including non-sexual romantic feelings.


Occasionally, they all stop fighting with each other to agree that cake is simply wonderful, and they’d all rather eat cake than have sex.  “I’d rather eat cake” is the official motto of today’s asexual.  It really is.  One has to admit—as far as mottos go, it’s genius.


SEXSOMNIA: Here, in my opinion, is a worthy future candidate for absurd-yet-fashionable sexual maladies.


It so happens that my latest novella is all about sexsomnia. I found the research fascinating.  When I mention sexsomnia to people they are startled to learn that sexsomnia actually exists.  Yes, there’s really is something called sexsomnia.  Yes, science has been able to more or less prove it exists in recent years.


Sexsomnia is a kind of parasomnia – a state in which the brain is both awake and asleep at the same time.  In this state, your body can perform actions by rote—including driving a car, eating, getting dressed – and even having sex.  However, the person suffering from sexsomnia remembers nothing of what happened when he/she wakes.


Sounds fishy doesn’t it? While there are certainly fakers out there, there has been enough scientific data of subjects who are hooked up to brain monitors to prove that sexsomnia is real.  (It’s hard to fake brain waves.)


However, most accounts of sexsomnia are anecdotal, since people often don’t often behave in the lab as they would at home.  Alas, most of the anecdotes collected by scientists are taken from the witness box in a courtroom.   Very few cases of sexsomnia have resulted in a not guilty verdict.


One modern drug that has helped people understand sexsomnia is the sleep aid Ambien.  So many people have done so many embarrassing things while zonked out on Ambien (often on airplanes in full view of multiple witnesses) and remembered absolutely nothing afterwards.  As these accounts mount up, the scientific community has been forced to accept that, yes, you can do a whole assortment of bizarre behaviors while you’re very much asleep.

Unlike hysteria, which was completely made up—and nymphomania which may be made up–you can actually prove whether on not someone has sexsomnia. Very few people suffer from it and it tends to have a genetic component.  On one hand this could handicap its ability to become truly fashionable.  On the other hand its selectivity could make it even more desirable.


For some people sexsomnia is not a problem.  Having sex with your partner in your own bed in the middle of the night is a no-brainer.

Yet for others, sexsomnia is a tricky riddle wrapped up in their own sexual repression.  It goes hand in hand with bad sleep hygiene, including alcoholism, stress, and sleep deprivation.   The idea that while you’re completely helpless your own body suddenly rises to commit sexual acts without your consent is unnerving.

In twenty years time will the term ‘Sexsomnia’ be on everyone’s lips?  We shall see….

BIO: Madeline Iva’s first romance novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is a part of the anthology THE LADY SMUT BOOK OF DARK DESIRES, available HERE at Amazon.  She blogs at every Thursday, hoards scads of interesting photos on Pinterest HERE and frequently lurks on facebook.  Madeline also organizes romance panels at Virginia Festival of the Book, where she blows kisses to Deanna Raybourn from time to time.

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