Ego orgasm

When a couple mingles in emotional union along with physical intimacy, both lose their sense of separateness in what has been called “ego orgasm” — a meeting of not just bodies but of their very beings. (Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence, 210).

Do you know the feeling when you first found the word  “wanderlust” (or, you know, some other word) and you were surprised there was a word for that? Because the concept just always made so much sense, but you didn’t think anyone else understood? And when you found out that there was a whole word for it, you were both disappointed and validated at the same time?

This is kind of like that.

ego orgasm. In the normal person a highly satisfactory experience such as may be obtained at a concert or at the theatre or in a friendship may deserve a term such as ego orgasm. Lacan refered to something of the same phenomenon as “jouissance.” (The Language of Winnicott: A Dictionary of Winnicott’s Use of Words)

There should be a word for words that you knew the meaning of but didn’t know existed.

A couple of excerpts from an essay called “Ego Orgasm and the Indolence of the Subject,” from a book called Syncope: The Philosophy of rapture (which, yes, sounds like just the sort of continental philosophy/psychoanalytical sort of shitbull that I tend to avoid, but. Sometimes new things have to break in.)

When the subjective frontiers dissolve, when the Subject melts into syncope, into ecstacy, into jouissance, it crosses, with a leap, the limits of its own sex, and finds itself in the other. The fundamental breakthrough is ego orgasm. Tantric philosophy [note to self: read up on tantra] expresses itself on this subject with the greatest clarity: the sought-after orgasm does indeed pass through coupling and jouissance, but it definitely does not linger there. The physiological orgasm is the way to reach the more important ego orgasm.

… Ego orgasm testified to the subject’s capacity to escape from the world. It is a game, a child’s game…which allows itself to manipulate the jigsaw puzzle of reality by exchanging roles or sexes.. [Note to anyone who cares: I always agreed with Dan Savage’s argument that sex is analogous to child’s play.] ..Dancing is the other way to reach the ego orgasm. [Note to self: learn how to dance OH WAIT I’M ALREADY DOING THAT]

So anyway. We could talk about orgasms all night. ¡¡¡But I start my salsa lessons tomorrow!!! ay ay ay ay ay aaaaayyy bebé.


3 thoughts on “Ego orgasm

  1. Austin Yoder June 27, 2010 / 7:07 pm

    What’s the Savage argument that sex is child’s play? Salsa lessons sound like a blast – I hope you’ll post updates about how it goes!


    • C. Puls June 28, 2010 / 11:40 am

      Oh it’s just something I read in a Savage Love column long ago — that child’s play and adult sex are analogous in that both are venues for participants to express fears, suppressed desires, creative urges, etc. makes sense but I never saw the connection made anywhere else before now.
      yes, look forward to updates on salsa. second lesson tonight yaay!


  2. Austin Yoder July 2, 2010 / 5:12 pm

    Hmm… I like it.

    Totally hear you on Wanderlust, and this one makes sense, too. I think one of my friends at U Kentucky would refer to this phenomena as “the sublime.”

    Hope the lesson was a blast 🙂


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