Metaphorical Therapies

Metaphors and stories may also be employed to assist attitude change towards one of successful sexual functioning. For example, a recently married patient, experiencing severe vaginismus, responded well to a story of a young couple moving into a new house (she was currently looking for a house in which she and her husband would live), discovering that one room was locked and apparently without a key. Attempts to break the door down were unsuccessful and painful. A search led to the discovery of a number of keys in a drawer in the basement, and the husband attempted to unlock the door. As he was in such a hurry he repeatedly fumbled with the keys, dropped them and was unable to get the key into the lock. His wife's more patient and systematic use of each key resulted in her being calmly able to unlock the door. While finding the key was an essential first step in opening the door, subsequent attempts were initially found to be difficult, as the door had been closed for some long period of time. Once the husband found the oil for the door hinges, the door could be opened as wide as the patient chose. The wife retained control of the keys throughout.

Hammond (1990) reviews the wide variety of dysfunctions that may respond to the 'master control room technique' where the patient is taken in the hypnotic state to the 'control room' of their mind (sited in the hypothalamus?) and from here the patient can make whatever alterations in the area of sexual functioning are required (e.g. suggestions of entering the control room and turning up sexual interest in a step-wise fashion from 0 towards 10, using any one of a number of switch metaphors).

Other metaphors including warmth, sweating, and so on, may also be used to enhance the sexual response. Cartoon or dramatic representations of the most erotic involvement have also been used (Araoz, 1982) to rehearse, give permission for and enhance involvement in sexual activity. Symbolic transformation of the parts of the anatomy which may be perceived negatively has also been used to remove anxiety-based inhibitory responses (Araoz, 1982) (e.g. the labia are perceived as the petals of a lovely flower or the penis may be represented as a beautiful ivory or marble column, and so on).

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