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On Being Stoned, by Charles Tart

  On Being Stoned

    Charles T. Tart, Ph. D.

        Chapter 13.    Sexuality

    GIVEN THE COMMON American stereotype of the "sex-crazed dope fiend," it is interesting to see what effects on sexuality are perceived by marijuana users themselves.



Desire for Sex

    A common effect is "My sexual drive goes up when stoned; I have more need for sex" (18%, 21%, 28%, 21%, 12%). This may begin to occur at the Moderate to Strong levels of intoxication (11%, 25%, 32%, 8%, 2%). Users of Psychedelics experience this at lower levels of intoxication (p <.0005), as does the Therapy and Growth group (p <.05, overall).
    The converse effect "I have much less sexual drive when stoned; it's difficult to arouse me even in a situation which would normally arouse me" is rare (42%, 34%, 15%, 5%, 2%). When it occurs, it is at the strong levels and higher (6%, 11%, 17%, 13%, 7%). The Professionals experience this loss of sexual need at lower levels of intoxication (p <.05).
    A very common effect is "I have no increase in sexual feelings unless it's a situation that I would normally be sexually aroused in, and then the sexual feelings are much stronger and more enjoyable" (7%, 11%, 27%, 23%, 24%). Users of Psychedelics report this more frequently (p <.05) than Non-users. It generally occurs at Moderate to Strong levels (17%, 28%, 27%, 8%, 2%).
Figure 13-1.
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.

    The relationships of these three alterations of sexual need are plotted in Figure 13-1. Sexual need going up when the situation is appropriate is reported more frequently than need per se going up (p <.01), and sexual need per se going up is more frequent than its going down (p <<.0005). Most of my informants commented that sexual drive or need does not go up, but rather the knowledge of how intensely gratifying sex is when intoxicated serves to make any perceived sexual drive more attention getting and desirable when intoxicated.
    With respect to levels of intoxication, they are the same for sexual desire per se going up and for sexual desire going up when the situation Is appropriate, but sexual desire going down occurs at higher levels of intoxication (p <.01 with respect to desire per se, p <.0005 with respect to desire in appropriate situations). My informants indicate that sexual intercourse at very high levels of intoxication can be an ecstatic, overwhelming experience, but at these levels chances are good that the user will be absorbed in his own inner experiences and not get interested in making love with someone.


Contact with Partner

    A very common experience is "When making love, If eel I'm in much closer mental contact with my partner; it is much more a union of souls as well as bodies" (9%, 9%, 31%, 20%, 25%). This closeness occurs more frequently among Users of Psychedelics (p <.0005) and the College-educated (p <.05). It generally begins to be experienced at the Moderate and Strong levels (7%, 27%, 35%, 9%, 3%). The Heavy Total users and the Daily users both experience this closeness at lower levels of intoxication (p <.05 in each case).
Figure 13-2.
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.

    The converse effect, "When making love, I feel rather isolated from my partner; I'm wrapped up in my intensified sensations and not really very aware of my partner's reactions and feelings" occurs infrequently (25%, 29%, 28%, 7%, 2%) and at Strong levels (5%, 13%, 25%, 15%, 7%). Feeling isolated from one's sexual partner occurs much less frequently than feeling closer (p << .0005) and at higher levels of intoxication (p <.05), as shown in Figure 13-2.


Qualities of Orgasm

    One of the factors that enhance love-making when intoxicated on marijuana is the characteristic effect, "Sexual orgasm has new qualities, pleasurable qualities, when stoned" (6%, 9%, 22%, 27%, 28%). This occurs somewhat less often, albeit still very frequently, for the Meditators (p <.01, overall) and the Professionals (p <.01). Most users experience these new qualities of orgasm by the Strong level of intoxication (8%, 21%, 37%, 8%, 8%).
    Among the various qualities potentially going into orgasm enhancement that my informants are able to describe, one or several of the following may be experienced as part of an orgasm when intoxicated: (I) prolongation of orgasm (possibly an effect of time slowing); (2) feelings of energy flowing and/or exploding or erupting in the body; (3) feelings of energy interchange with one's sexual partner, both flows before orgasm and explosive interchanges through the genitals and whole body during orgasm; (4) absolutely total immersion in the orgasm, no distractions of any sort; (5) the orgasm taking place as ecstatic sensations through most of the body rather than being confined to the genital area; (6) merging of identity with one's sexual partner during orgasm, with a sharing of sensation and joy; (7) feelings that the energy interchange during orgasm balances and replenishes each partner's own vital energies, rather than depleting them—more so than when not intoxicated; (8) greater awareness of the bodily feelings leading up to orgasm, with a consequent ability to time one's movements in a way that will maximize the pleasurable qualities of the orgasm; (9) the ego temporarily disappearing, the body taking over, the orgasm happening rather than being produced; and (10) the feeling that the orgasm (and shared feelings with the sexual partner) are happening on a much vaster, wider scale than those consciously experienced, that this is an event of much greater magnitude or significance than the ego is able to sense or comprehend.
Figure 13-3.
Note.—For guide to interpreting the "How Stoned" graph,
see note on Figure 6-1.

    Because a number of informants indicated they are aware of what seems to be organ sensations in genitals and gut that are normally not in awareness, it is interesting to compare this report of new qualities to sexual orgasm with two more general changes in sensation, namely, touch sensations taking on new qualities (Chapter 8) and becoming aware of internal organs and processes that are normally not accessible to consciousness (Chapter 11). The relationships are plotted in Figure 13-3. New qualities of orgasm do not occur more frequently than new touch qualities, but they do occur much more frequently than awareness of normally unsensed internal organs (p <<.0005). New touch qualities begin to occur at lower levels of intoxication than orgasm enhancement (p <.05), and increased awareness of internal organs at higher levels than orgasm enhancement (p <.0005). Apparently the sheer intensity of sexual orgasm may result in internal organ sensations connected with it that ordinarily occur at higher levels of intoxication.


Related Effects

    There are a number of related intoxication phenomena, dealt with in preceding and subsequent chapters, that indicate, in conjunction with pilot interview data and comments of informants, some other specific ways in which sexual contact and intercourse can be altered. These will be briefly listed below.
    "... sensual quality to vision..." (Chapter 6). Looking at one's lover can be like touching him or her.
    "... face of another... will change even as I watch it..." (Chapter 6). One woman can become another woman, many women, all women, Woman.
    "Touch sensations take on new qualities..."; ". .. touch more exciting, more sensual..."; "... surfaces feel smoother, silkier..."; and ". .. surfaces rougher... graininess forms interesting patterns ..." (Chapter 8). All of these changes in touch quality apply particularly to a lover's garments, skin, hair, mouth, genitals.
    "Taste... new qualities..." and "Smell ... new qualities..." (Chapter 8) apply to kissing and oral-genital contacts.
    "I empathize tremendously... feel what they feel. .." (Chapter 12). Your lover's joy is your joy; your lover's pain is your pain.
    "... so absorbed... in a person... felt as if I were that... person..." (Chapter 18). Total blending, merging with one's lover.
    "Some events become archetypal, part of the basic way man has always done things..." (Chapter 18). Instead of John Smith and Mary Jones making it in John's apartment in California on a particular night, Man and Woman Blend Together, in Now and Eternity, Here and Everywhere, an integral part of the Blending of Maleness and Femaleness of the Universe.
    Note also that sexual fantasy, as well as real sexuality, can be markedly enhanced by marijuana intoxication. Imagery in all sensory modalities is generally enhanced, so fantasy preceding actual sexual contact or masturbation can be much more intense and exciting than ordinarily. New and pleasurable qualities to orgasm can occur with masturbation as well as actual sexual contact. My informants indicate, however, that as greatly enhanced as fantasy and masturbation are, that enhancement generally does not begin to compare to the enhancement of real sexuality.


Being a Better Lover

    The final item dealing with sexuality was "I feel as if I'm a better person to make love with when stoned." This is a common experience (26%, 12%, 20%, 12%, 20%). Although many users (44 percent) did not rate the minimal level of intoxication for this, those who did generally considered it a Moderate-to Strong-level effect (8%, 15%, 20%, 9%, 3%). The College-educated indicated higher levels of intoxication for this than the Professionals (p <.05).
    The users were asked to explain why they were a better person to make love with when high on marijuana. Thirty-nine males and twenty-one females wrote brief explanations. These have been summarized in several categories in Table 13-1.[1] The number of users giving particular reasons is broken down by males and females, and by those of each sex who indicate Rarely/Sometimes or Very Often/Usually for categorizing themselves as a better lover when intoxicated.

TABLE 13-1

Less inhibited, more arousable6656
More contact with, responsiveness
    to lover, gentler, more giving
More sensual, stronger sensations, feelings2722
More control, capacity, coordination5401
More here-and-now, archetypal, spontaneous3401
Prolonged duration of love-making0100
Harder, longer-lasting erection01--

1. Note that this table includes one or more answers from each user, and so is not amenable to valid statistical treatment. A valid table, using the main or first answer of each user only, was prepared, but as no differences between males and females reach statistical significance, it will not be presented here.

    The first category, less inhibited, more arousable, represents answers such as the following: "... generally more open to my partner, less inhibited by sexual conventions..."; or "I'm usually somewhat inhibited when straight but not when stoned..."; or "... many of my inhibitions and petty thoughts are transcended by a much stronger desire to unite deeply with my partner"; or "Because I'm grooving to it more, because I'm frigid and when stoned I get close to coming, I'm more willing to experiment and please the other person."
    It is important to clarify the above descriptions of reduction of sexual inhibitions by noting that my pilot interview subjects and later informants all commented to the effect that this reduction was not an aphrodisiac effect in the usual understanding of the word. Rather it was a selective lowering of inhibition. If the situation was appropriate, if the user really wanted sexual relations with someone else, marijuana would lower inhibitions; but if someone the intoxicated user does not like to be with attempts seduction or sexual manipulation, they will seem even more repulsive and undesirable than normally.
    By far the most frequent reason for being a better lover when intoxicated, especially if the sexual partner is also intoxicated on marijuana, is feelings of tremendously enhanced contact with one's partner, sharing of feelings, being more sensitive, gentle, giving. A poignant expression of this was given by an eighteen-year-old male student: "When I am stoned and making love, sometimes I can be so much a part of my partner that it hurts and makes me feel very alone when we are apart..."; or "My own sensations are so acute that I want the person I love to feel it also..."; or "I feel closer physical and mental communication (actually both become one)."
    The third category, increased sensuality and intensity of sensations, has already been illustrated above.
    More control, capacity, or coordination is expressed in such comments as "... my movements are relaxed, confident ..."; or "My actions are more fluid—heightened emotion and passion..."; or "... can do much more because I feel stronger..."; or "... can last as long as I'm stoned without tiring..."
    More here-and-now-ness, spontaneity, sometimes leading to a totally archetypal experience is illustrated by: "The act and the communion become reduced to the most basic and, at the same time, expanded to the most elevated and consecrated form of experience possible..."
    Increased experiential duration of orgasm and increased erectile potency are both illustrated by one student: "Potency seems to be incredibly augmented, such that an infinite orgasm could seem possible. I have had as many as seven orgasms in the span of one night, having been extremely stoned. My organ seems immense (when flaccid) and seems that it would swell to immeasurable proportions... my erection seems to be harder than steel. .."
    Note however that 26 percent of the users indicated they were never a better lover when intoxicated. As one user put it, "While I find it rather more pleasurable than not (the act itself), I feel that it is not complete somehow, because it becomes a purely sensual thing. This feeling of sensuality is tremendously vitalizing, but I find myself enjoying this so much that I wonder if my partner is aware of it in me; I am not aware of his pleasure, only my own, and this fact that neither of us can communicate this to each other makes it a selfish act... We both prefer not to have sex when stoned because of this." Another user, who indicates he is sometimes a better lover when intoxicated, points out the importance of direction of attention in this respect: "When I'm stoned, sex seems more natural and less inhibited. I seem to flow right into things—doing without thinking. But, I have heard later from the chick (on occasions) that I was out to gratify myself, not her. This type of self-gratification love-making usually happens when I occasionally go on a grass ego-trip. But there have been many times when we both are gratified; this result, fortunately, is the more frequent."



    "Sexual orgasm entails a strong feeling of physical union, two making one flesh where I touch my partner" (Sometimes, Maximum).



    Various phenomena affecting or characterizing sexuality on marijuana are summarized by level of intoxication in Figure 13-4. The overall stratification by level is highly significant (p <<< .0005).
    Beginning at the Moderate to Strong levels, there is commonly more desire for sex (especially if the situation is appropriate), enhancement of sense qualities that add to sexual pleasure, especially touch, and the feeling that one becomes a better lover, usually with more feeling or empathy for one's sexual partner. At the Strong level there are new qualities to orgasm and, rarely, the desire for sex may diminish. If sexual desires are acted out, though, rather than the user getting caught up in internal fantasies and experiences, the sexual act becomes particularly profound at this and higher levels. Actions may become archetypal, all sorts of new sensations may arise from the body, and, near the maximal levels, the sexual partners may experience merging with one another, becoming one.
    The potential sidetracking of sexual desires into a more general form of intimate contact was well described by one female user: "... If I am very stoned (especially if both of us are) sometimes the mind just won't turn off, and even in the middle of a kiss there may come an overwhelming sense of peanut butter, roses, lakes, psychology, or goodness knows what. At times like these—fortunately it has usually happened to both of us at the same time—it is very pleasant just to talk and/or hold one another. Sexual attraction has become replaced or become less important than affection and simple contentment in the other's nearness...."

FIGURE 13-4.
Just        Fairly    Strongly    Very

Type size code:
Less ned for sex

Just        Fairly    Strongly  Very



    All the background factors affecting sexuality had relatively linear effects. They are summarized in Table 13-2. An interesting pattern seems to distinguish the group with much drug experience from the more educated group. The high drug experience group reports increased frequency of a variety of sensual enhancements and closeness to their sexual partners, while the more educated group does not have as much sensual experience, but has some of it at lower levels of intoxication, as well as reporting themselves to be better lovers at lower levels. The more educated group also experiences increased closeness to their sexual partners less frequently. This may reflect a generation gap in some ways, as the more educated are generally older than the rest of the users in the present sample, and may have many more inhibitions about sensuality and sexuality.

TABLE 13-2
More Drug ExperienceMore frequent:
    Actions become archtypal
    New smell qualities
    Faces change
    Vision sensual
    More need for sex if
        sitution appropriate
    Closer to partner

Less intoxicated for:
    Vision sensual
    More need for sex
    Closer to partner
MalesMore intoxicated for:
    Actions become archetypal
    Awareness of internal organs
MeditatorsMore frequent:
    Merge with another
    Faces change
Less frequent:
    New qualities to orgasm
More Educated  Less frequent:
    Closer to partner
    New qualities to orgasm
    Surfaces rougher
    Vision sensual
Less intoxicated for:
    Merge with another
    Surfaces rougher
    Surfaces silkier
    Need sex less
    Better lover
Older  Less intoxicated for:
    Merge with another
Therapy & GrowthMore intoxicated for:
    New touch qualities
    Touch more sensual
Less intoxicated for:
    More need for sex



    For practically all experienced users, marijuana intoxication greatly intensifies the sensations experienced in sexual intercourse. A minority feel that this takes something important away from sexual intercourse, namely, contact with their sexual partner as they become immersed in their own intensified sensations. For the great majority, however, marijuana seems to be the ideal aphrodisiac. Sex is generally desired more, but with others who would be likely sexual partners anyway; there is usually no drive toward sex unless the overall situation seems right to the user. Desire is then intensified, sexual sensations enhanced, and feelings of greater contact, responsiveness, sharing, desire to give, and empathy with one's sexual partner are often experienced.
    While many aspects of human experience, particularly when intoxicated on marijuana, are difficult to describe, my informants and the user-respondents indicate this is particularly true for sexual experience. So much is beyond words. The descriptions above deal only with some of the partially describable aspects.

Chapter 14

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