Dr. Goschi's Blog

Live Sex Demonstration Proof of our Boundary Issues

Northwestern University’s undergraduate Human Sexuality class “offered” students a live demonstration of exhibitionism.  I believe that most individuals are shaking their heads upon hearing the news.  I wonder what caused  Professor Bailey’s poor judgement and the school mistakinly endorsing this demonstration.  I’m afraid that this incident simply highlights the rampant pathology expressed by our culture, in particular, lack of boundaries and “anything goes mentality.”  To be sure this ideology is a slippery slope.  I wrote earlier about social networks and in some ways this demonstration highlights the lack of boundaries so many individuals exhibit.  It reminds me of a live feed of a woman who simply filmed herself all day long and put the feed up on the Internet.  She filmed herself doing everything even using the bathroom.  And, it is amazing to me how many people watched.

Yes, we are a voyeristic culture.   And, I’m not saying that wanting to observe is, in and of itself,  pathological.   I am instead expressing that there is something wrong with an inability to keep certain thoughts, actions or body parts private.  Young adults are particularly vulnerable to the behaviors and attitudes of their professors.  They look up to them.  They look to these same individuals to show them how to navigate through a social cultrure that  can at times be quite confusing.  For young adults who are sensitive and/or have a porclivity to emotional issues the professor has to be even more sensitive to how and what they are expessing to their class.  I am saying that Professor Bailey din’t think this through very well.  Perhaps a more appropriate presentation would have been to invite the same guests, doing a diagnostic interview of the couple, and then have a question and answer session with the class.  I think you would have covered the same territory of sexual exhibitionism with full approval by any ethics board like the AMA and APA.  You would have treated your students as intellectual individuals capable of higher order thinking.

The other issue that is huge to me is that who in that roster of students may have been injured by what went on in the class.  As professionals we must have empathy and always be thinking about how our audience could possibly negatively receive this information.  How did this professor prep for this demonstration?  He did say that students could leave and that it would be sexually graphic.  Many individuals walking through my door have been sexually abused.  Sexual abuse is not something a person wears on their sleeve for all to see.  But, I would hope that a clinical psychologist had the enough judgement to take this into consideration prior to engaging in something so provocative.

Needless to say that the professor was feeding into the demonstrators’ pathology.  How about some empathy for them?  My clinical guess would be that one or both had been sexually abused as children or expsed to some pretty bad stuff.  I feel for the girl who this professor allowed to be taken advantage of.  It amazes that none of the female students were angered by this stunt and voiced that.  Those are also the individuals I worry about.   Those people who felt they couldn’t confront the situation but have feelings about the professor.   It certainly makes me wonder if there were any secondary gains for the professor.  I would hope that the chair of the psychology department thinks critically about these sorts of side shows going forward. 

Are we really becoming a culture where anything goes?  I certainly hope not because if there is no longer respect for boundaries then I fear the consequences.   As a culture we will no longer feel it necessary to behave in certain enviornments.  For example, research has told us that children are far more likely to be physically and sexually abused in homes where there are loose or no boundaries.  It is important for our own mental health to make these distinctions.  Acting out on the Internet is one aspect of lack of boundaries but acting out in a classroom  is taking it to an entirely new level.   Those of us who work with others, no matter what the capacity, let’s be responsible and always have a person’s best interest in mind.  Of course, think what you want of my rant.  It is simply my opinion. 

As always if you need help please don’t struggle alone.  Help is just a phone call away.  Call me today at (312)595-1787.

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