All week we’ve been discussing the idea of a Thresholder in the Daily Astrology space in relation to an aspect with minor planet 1992 QB1 (coverage here and here). Eric’s writing in Planet Waves and Book of Blue has long explored the idea of a Thresholder as one who intentionally holds space to help guide another through deep transitions.
The curious thing is how marginalized such people often are in our society, despite their crucial, central role in helping individual lives to evolve – marginalized even by supposed peers. In fact, a couple months ago one psychotherapist who wrote about Thresholders in an online psychology magazine found himself shoved to the margins of his profession for doing so.
Stanley Siegel is a psychotherapist, author, international lecturer, and former director of education at New York’s renowned Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy. In February he wrote an entry in his blog on Psychology Today‘s website exploring the shared values of sex workers and therapists.
In doing so, he crossed the imaginary line that divides the ‘proper’ healing community from the fuzzy, stigmatized world of sex-workers who provide healing services without credentials after their names. Psychology Today never ran the article – and cancelled his recurring column outright.
You can read Siegel’s article here – it includes anecdotes from his own patients who have benefited deeply from the services of sex workers, plus insights from the sex workers themselves. Unfortunately, therapists cannot actually refer their patients to sex workers at this time – despite the success of sexual surrogates in recent decades. Siegel writes,
In the 1970s, sex researchers Masters and Johnson introduced the idea of using sexual surrogates with patients to engage in intimate sexual relations to achieve a therapeutic goal. The idea caught on for a short time. Sex surrogates were eventually certified to use a combination of techniques — talking, listening and performing to help resolve a patient’s sexual issue. Psychotherapists referred patients to surrogates who had problems with self-confidence, sexual anxiety, premature ejaculation, vaginismus, sexual inhibition and erectile dysfunction.
Despite the high success rate of surrogate programs, complicated legal issues, along with intense criticism from both the far right and feminist organizations, arose. Few states allow sexual surrogates to practice these days.
Did you catch that? Both the far right and feminists closed ranks on these Thresholders. The reaction from the far right is to be expected; that feminist groups would be so anti-sex as to be unable to hold space for alternative forms of sexual healing is dismaying at best. At worst, it shows just how thoroughly we have, as a culture, been turned against ourselves. Even now, in 2012, a respected psychotherapist was thrown off a prominent psychology website for suggesting that some sex workers are able to accomplish with clients what the clinicians cannot.
We have some wearing-through to do when it comes to the rigid, punitive, self-denying shell we have surrounded ourselves with. It’s the one that we’ve inherited through generations of presumed ‘sin’ and have reinforced every time we find ourselves cowed by guilt and shame over our desires, our bodies and our sexual relationships.
As mentioned yesterday, Wednesday’s Moon-Pluto occultation was the first of a series of events designed to be a slow wearing through or wearing down of the religious taboos, emotional defenses, institutions, cultural hang-ups, familial fears, and so on that are standing in the way of healing the sexual conversation – both within ourselves and with others. As Siegel’s experience shows, the space for this conversation is still a dangerous place.
At least, it is dangerous if you are determined to cling to your status quo even as you come out with your authentic stand on sexual healing and the work of Thresholders. If you have truly embraced your mission, you will find another outlet for it, but that means allowing change. The Internet, thank goddess, is still a place where you can create a space in which to be heard – and where the rest of us can find the information we need as we make our transitions.
Siegel has his own website, which is why we can still read his article – Psychology Today went so far as to pull his other work. He also wasted no time in preparing to launch his own online magazine – called, with a wink, Psychology Tomorrow.
‘Psychology tomorrow’, huh? Let’s hope so. Better yet, ask yourself: how will you be working with the Moon-Pluto occultations to ensure that tomorrow includes this kind of healing at your life’s center, not relegated to the margin?