Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

Today, men, having long pretended that the unconscious forces did not exist, are hesitantly admitting their existence: they have not yet reached the point where they can accept them and adjust their social institutions to permit them effective expression If today, in a permissive age, we still have countless problems of sexual adjustment, it is partly because society offers far too few outlets for the creative and manipulative drives in man, for fantasy, for the free flow of soul into movement and feeling. People grope for opportunities to satisfy their deepest needs through institutions with which they are familiar, under such names as sport and entertainment, but because their Psychological functions are not recognized and understood, these institutions are perverted and emasculated. For a considerable part of the population life remains subtly frustrating.

The danger of such a situation is that there are always persons who are ready to exploit these resentments and to tap the dark unconscious forces of Thanatos in order to make others the servants of their own irrational needs.

Before the Christian era, there existed two royal roads into the unconscious: religion (meaning group experience) and sex, and these two were commonly combined. With the establishment of the Christian Church, the road of sex was closed to traffic, and the road of religion was heavily policed. The Protestant Church, without opening the road of sex, gradually denatured the religious ceremonies until they offered little appeal to the unconscious. Today, the position has been substantially reversed: many people have abandoned the pursuit of religious experience, so that sex remains for them the only route to the unconscious. It is this which gives sex its disproportionate importance in our films, books and newspapers, and as a subject of gossip; this is why the perverted and anti-social manifestations today emerge as sexual crimes rather than in forms sanctioned by religion, such as flagellation. Always coupled with Eros we find Thanatos, for the penalty of failure to love and create is the irresistible need to hate and destroy.

Today, it is true, there is a new factor in the situation: we have a more thorough understanding than ever before of the nature and origin of the irrational forces which lie behind our convictions and a wider knowledge of the variety of forms which sexual mores can take. Perhaps for the first time in history, it becomes possible to see our own moral code in a comparatively detached manner, and the possibility of devising a rational ethic dawns.