Determining the criteria for the sexual norm is a rather difficult task due to the close intertwining of biological, social and personal factors affecting the sex life of a person, as well as the diversity of individual deviations associated with it. The dependence of the concept of the norm on a complex of cultural factors, religious beliefs, moral and ethical requirements that prevail in individual social groups or in society as a whole, leads both to an overly broad interpretation of the sexual norm, and to its unjustifiably rigid restriction, up to the full diversity of sexual self-expression of personality. Only the development of clear scientific criteria for the sexual norm allows us to draw a line between what should be considered normal and healthy, and what is considered abnormal, pathological, and therefore requires some correction. Distorted, misconceptions about the sexual norm often create considerable difficulties for people in their personal lives and can lead to the formation of their sexual disharmonies and dysfunctions.
One of the possible approaches to the study of this norm is nosocentric (from pathology to norm), according to which the boundaries of sexual pathology are first determined, and all sexual manifestations that are not related to it are considered as different versions of the norm. According to the definition of Polish sexologist Z. Starovich ( 1991), sexual needs include such sexual needs, as well as such sexual behavior that make it difficult for the sexual partnership (both the choice of a partner and sex life with him) or adaptation e sexual preferences of the individual to the moral and cultural norms of behavior and the legal system of a given society. Thus, the sexual needs and actions of a person, which do not become for him the source of these difficulties and problems in sexual life, should be considered normal.
German sexologist S. Shnabl (1981) believes that three basic concepts influenced the understanding of the norm in sexology. The first is the norm as a kind of moral postulate, an ethical requirement, that is, a kind of ideal pattern of sexual behavior prescribed by society. Norms of this kind appeared and were replaced in the process of the historical development of society, which depended on the dominant religions or classes, established cultural and moral norms. They were declared absolute and “natural”, although at times they contradicted elementary common sense. In the second case, the norm is the average value, derived from the frequency characteristics of certain sexual manifestations. With this approach, such sexual manifestations that occur in most people are considered normal, and everything that is observed relatively rarely is considered abnormal. Such an approach still largely forms public opinion, contributing to a negative assessment of individuals who belong to “sexual minorities”, that is, they satisfy their sexual needs differently than most people. Attempting to determine the norm through the calculation of a certain averaged index contradicts the recognition of the right to individual expression for a person. The third understanding of the norm, in its medical-psychological aspect, is connected neither with the criterion of value, nor with the degree of frequency. Normal is all healthy, necessary for good physical and mental well-being, good social adaptation, no matter how often or rarely it occurs, to what extent it approaches the ideal.
Many experts distinguish affiliate and individual sexual norm. The criteria for partnership standards are: 1) pairing; 2) heterosexuality; 3) maturity of partners; 4) voluntary communication; 5) the desire for mutual pleasure; 6) the absence of physical and moral damage to the health of the partner and other persons.
In accordance with these criteria, all forms of sexual activity, sexual behavior and sexual activities that have taken place between two mature persons of different sexes, are accepted by both of them and are aimed at mutual enjoyment that does not harm their health and does not violate the norms. the hostel. The nature of specific forms of sexual behavior and actions of partners is not decisive in this case, since a person is recognized to have the right to search for his own, individual ways to sexual satisfaction. Attempts to limit a person in the choice of sexual actions by the strict framework of prescriptions and dogmas, ignoring his needs, often lead to failures in intimacy, conflicts, provoke the development of sexual disorders and neurotic disorders. The listed criteria of the partner norm are rather conditional (for example, the requirement of different gender of partners). At the same time, they make it possible to adequately assess the intimate relationship according to the most important parameters characterizing the level of relationships between sexual partners.
Considering the boundaries of the sexual norm and pathology is possible from the standpoint of the meaning of the sexual sphere for a person in its broadest sense. With this approach, the sexual norm includes the potential ability to perform all three basic functions of sexuality: biological (fertilization), psychological (pleasure, satisfaction) and social (realization of the need for interpersonal contacts). Difficulties or impossibility of realization by the person of any of these functions determine the intensity of his deviations from the norm in the direction of sexual pathology.
Since the partner norm quite fully distinguishes between the sexual norm and pathology in psychological and social aspects, they also single out the individual norm that characterizes the biological component of sexuality. Thus, Polish sexologist J. Godlevsky believes that for an adult person such forms of sexual behavior are normal, which, firstly, for unintended reasons, do not exclude or drastically limit the possibility of sexual intercourse that can end in conception; secondly, they are not characterized by a persistent tendency to avoid sexual intercourse due to the fact that the individual has sexual dysfunctions or gross violations of psychosexual development. The given individual norm is formulated as an addition to the partner norm. It is necessary to allocate two more important criteria of the individual norm: age and constitutional. In the first case, it is necessary to correlate the sexual needs of a particular person with his age and general state of health. Obviously, the norm for the same man at 25 and 60 years will be completely different, since the intensity of sexological manifestations gradually decreases with age.
It is known that individual sexual activity of men and women varies in a very wide range. For example, the maximum intensity of the rhythm of sexual activity for one man may cause another phenomenon of sexual abstinence and will be optimal for the third. This variation in the level of sexual needs of people is primarily due to differences in the sexual constitution. Therefore, when assessing individual norms, one should proceed from the potential sexual potentialities of a given person, and not from average statistical indicators. In this case, the conditioned-physiological rhythm of sexual activity (2-3 times a week) will be considered perfectly normal in the first year of marriage for a man of 20-30 years old who has a weak sexual constitution, but is unlikely to correspond to his individual sexual norm with high constitutional parameters . Such discrepancies between the actual sexual activity of a person and his sexual constitution are often caused by sexual disharmonies in the married couple and require psychotherapeutic correction.
Individual and affiliate standards are closely related. For example, sexual dysfunctions in one of the partners often make it difficult or impossible to sexual satisfaction of the other partner, which gradually develops a negative attitude towards sexual contact with this person, thus violating the criteria of the partner norm. On the other hand, absolutely normal sexual needs of a man and a woman cannot be adequately realized in the presence of conflicting relationships between partners. However, such a harsh influence of individual and affiliate norms on each other is not always met. Thus, the presence of sexual dysfunctions in one or both partners who violate the criteria of the individual norm may be quite acceptable for this couple and not interfere with a harmonious partner union.
The clinical understanding of the sexual norm covers a wide range of sexual activities and behaviors that can be divided into three categories of norms: optimal, accepted and tolerant. The optimal rate should include sexual acts and behaviors that, due to their peculiarities, are most desirable from an individual and social point of view. For this reason, they can be promoted as a model for education. The accepted (accepted, acceptable) norm includes such sexual actions and forms of behavior of an individual, which, although not optimal, do not prevent him from establishing interpersonal and sexual contacts, since they do not cause the principal objections to the partner. Tolerant (tolerant) norm should include such sexual actions and such behavior, the assessment of which may be different from the point of view of the norm or pathology and depends on the personal, situational and partner context. This includes such forms of sexual behavior that limit the possibilities of harmonious selection of a partner and the establishment of close relationships with him. However, these restrictions are not completely pathological, since appropriate (although much more difficult than with optimal and accepted norms) sexual choice can ensure the harmonious sex life of a partner couple. All three above-mentioned categories of the norm are referred to as the sexual norm in the clinical sense, that is, not requiring any treatment. The situation is different from the point of view of pedagogy, in which the norm is considered only the best option, at the very least acceptable, while sexual acts and behaviors within a tolerable norm can be considered as undesirable and beyond morally acceptable.
All the above criteria relate mainly to the need to defuse sexual tension, while the full, widely understood sexual norm necessarily includes meeting the need for non-sexual contact with a loved one. Thus, sexual relations are more and more close to normal, the more they strengthen and harmonize the connection between partners. All this testifies to the relativity of the concept of the sexual norm and the need to consider it taking into account the diversity of relations between partners, and not only through the prism of their intimate interaction.
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