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On the ARR email list someone just asked about Viagra. So I thought I'd go over the different ways drugs could help with sex.

It's possible that arousal works like this: we have various theories that trigger various chemical releases, and then other theories about what to do in the sensory environment created by those chemicals. In this case, if the first set of theories (that trigger chemicals) were messed up, we could bypass them with drugs. If the problem was in the second set of theories, about what to do with the chemicals released already, drugs wouldn't help. (You could string in more layers if you liked, like 3 different chemicals triggering in a row, some mechanically, some based on theories)

It's possible that arousal is purely mental without intermediate chemical stuff (or perhaps not according to modern biology, I just mean abstractly conceivable). In this case, drugs wouldn't help, except with physical malfunctions, like messed up blood flow to important bits.

What's not conceivable is to take theories out of it, and declare that "when in a sexual situation" or some such, then chemicals control behavior. For one thing, how do the chemicals know what a sexual situation is? And for another, chemicals controlling behavior is absurd. And for another, people have been known to stop having sex in the middle. (Oh, sorry, the chemicals take *partial* control, which means, ummmm .... nothing coherent).

Elliot Temple on February 14, 2003

Comments (1)

> What's not conceivable is to take theories out of it, and declare that "when in a sexual situation" or some such, then chemicals control behavior.

another example that illustrates the same thing is what weight-lifters do. they'll psych themselves up to get their hormones pumping cause that helps your muscles somehow. it's a case of somebody putting himself in a situation.

with the sex thing, people try to get in the mood. it's intentional. they are trying to get into a sexual situation.

and if something goes badly, you can take yourself out of that situation. like if you get a call that your dad died.


so it goes like this:

event -> sensory input -> interpretation(theories) -> hormone secretion

not like this:

event -> sensory input -> hormone secretion -> interpretation (theories)

Anonymous at 4:14 PM on January 27, 2016 | #4708

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)