Sexual fantasy  

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This page Sexual fantasy is part of the human sexuality seriesIllustration: Fashionable Contrasts (1792) by James Gillray.
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This page Sexual fantasy is part of the human sexuality series
Illustration: Fashionable Contrasts (1792) by James Gillray.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A sexual fantasy or erotic fantasy is a mental image or pattern of thought that stirs a person's sexuality and can create or enhance sexual arousal. A sexual fantasy can be created by the person's imagination or memory, and may be triggered autonomously or by external stimulation such as erotic literature or pornography, a physical object, or sexual attraction to another person. Anything that may give rise to a sexual arousal may also produce a sexual fantasy, and sexual arousal may in turn give rise to fantasies.

Sexual fantasies are nearly universal, being reported in many societies across the globe. However, because of the nature of some fantasies, the actual putting of such fantasies into action is far less common, due to cultural, social, moral, and religious constraints. In some cases, even a discussion by a person of sexual fantasies is subject to social taboos and inhibitions. Some people find it convenient to act out fantasies through sexual roleplay. A fantasy may be a positive or negative experience, or even both. It may be in response to a past experience and can influence future sexual behavior. A person may not wish to enact a sexual fantasy in real life, and since the process is entirely imaginary, they are not limited to acceptable or practical fantasies, which can provide information on the psychological processes behind sexual behavior.

Sexual fantasy can also pertain to a genre of literature, film or work of art. Such works may be appreciated for their aesthetics, though many people may feel uncomfortable with such works. For example, women in prison films may be described as sexual fantasies, as are pornographic films. In the case of films, the term may describe a part of the film, such as a fantasy scene or sequence. Besides pornographic films, a number of mainstream films have included sexual fantasy scenes, such as Belle de jour (1967), Amarcord (1973), American Beauty (1999) and others. In many cases, the use of fantasy scenes enables the inclusion of material into a work indicating the sexualised mental state of a character.

Social views of sexual fantasy

Social views on sexual fantasy (and sex in general) differ throughout the world. The privacy of a person's fantasy is influenced greatly by social conditions. Because of the taboo status of sexual fantasies in many places around the world, open discussion — or even acknowledgment — is forbidden, forcing fantasies to stay private. In more lax conditions, a person may share their fantasies with close friends, significant others, or a group of people with whom the person is comfortable.

The moral acceptance and formal study of sexual fantasy in Western culture is relatively new. Prior to their acceptance, sexual fantasies were seen as evil or sinful, and they were commonly seen as horrid thoughts planted into the minds of people by "agents of the devil." Even when psychologists were willing to accept and study fantasies, they showed little understanding and went so far as to diagnose sexual fantasies in females as a sign of hysteria. Prior to the early twentieth century, many experts viewed sexual fantasy (particularly in females) as abnormal. Sigmund Freud suggested that those who experienced sexual fantasies were sexually deprived or frustrated or that they lacked adequate sexual stimulation and satisfaction. Over several decades, sexual fantasies became more acceptable as notable works and compilations, such as "Morality, Sexual Facts and Fantasies", by Dr Patricia Petersen, Alfred Kinsey's Kinsey Reports, Erotic Fantasies: A Study of the Sexual Imagination by Drs. Phyllis and Eberhard Kronhausen, and Nancy Friday's My Secret Garden, were published. Today, they are regarded as natural and positive elements of one's sexuality, and are often used to enhance sexual practices, both in normal settings and in therapy. Many Christians believe that the Bible prohibits sexual fantasies about people other than one's spouse in Matthew 5:28. However, this interpretation is disputed (especially as applied to non-married persons) because the passage attacks not fantasies but the lust that often precedes them. Others believe that St Paul includes fantasy when he condemns works of the flesh such as "immorality" or "uncleanness." Again, this is a subject of debate. Despite the Western World's relatively lax attitudes towards sexual fantasy, many people still feel shame and guilt about their fantasies. This may contribute to personal sexual dysfunction, and regularly leads to a decline in the quality of a couple's sex life, and an unhappy relationship.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sexual fantasy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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