The Naked Problem of Instincts

Looking east onto the Caribbean Sea

Looking east onto the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

It’s a beautiful day on the Mayan Riviera, especially after last evening’s quick rainstorm that did it’s job of cooling things down. Not only did it cool down temperatures, but it cooled down some of the behaviours at the nearby Desire’s Resort. Today the nudism was just nudism, not overt sexual posing or as was the case as my wife and I passed the resort, a couple performing on their second floor balcony just metres from the beach, performing while looking at the passing by beach-strollers. Human behaviour is all over the map from “natural” to “contrived.”

Human behaviour is about relationships, relationship to oneself and relationship to others. What makes human behaviour hard to understand is the fact that our behaviours are often instinctual, unconscious or mediated by our consciousness. Here is what Daryl Sharp, a Canadian Jungian analyst, has to say about instinctual behaviour, a description that fits one of the scenes witnessed above:

“Instinctual behavior is just that – innate, automatic. It has its own rhythm and there’s nothing conscious about it. A man driven by his dick is unconscious. He comes and goes. Or maybe he stays. Who knows? Not the man himself because he’s not in charge. (Sharp, Getting to Know You, p. 19)

In the naturist / nudist world, sexuality is present, but it is contained. Living as a naturist or nudist is a conscious act for anyone in the modern world, a decision that is carefully considered in each and every moment where one sheds one’s clothing. It’s about safety, about protecting one’s freedom, and often about protecting one’s economic situation – no one wants to risk losing a job or being black-listed for career advancement. In a way, this helps to explain why the naturist / nudist community is “gray,” as often the decision to engage more fully in the lifestyle is delayed until retirement.

Naturists and nudists know all too well the darker face of instinctual behaviours. Most safe zones are quite restrictive in terms of allowing single males to enter their spaces. The same sense of safety on public nude-friendly beaches doesn’t exist. There one finds the instinctual behaviours appearing all too frequently – men masturbating, sneaking photos of exposed genitals and being obsessed with staring as though in a trance. We can try to regulate through public awareness, beach patrols and through legal penalties; but, one finds it next to impossible, if not impossible to solve the problem as the problem has its source in instinct, not in consciousness. Of course, this reality makes it very difficult for single males who aren’t ruled by instinctual behaviour.

Improper behaviour is easily resolved if that behaviour is not regulated by the instinctual which is one dimension of unconscious behaviour. Often, unconscious behaviour is changed when brought to the conscious attention of the individual who has manifested improper behaviour. It is about learning what is appropriate in a given situation. Unconsciousness is perhaps better described as not being aware of. For example, in certain situations, one commits a faux pas in using the wrong item of cutlery when dining in formal situations. Unaware – unconscious – of what is acceptable or not. Another example, a young child urinating by a tree in the park where he or she is playing learns that she or he must learn to “hold it in” until a toilet can be visited.

It makes for a messy world, but it is the world within which we find ourselves.

2 thoughts on “The Naked Problem of Instincts

  1. messy indeed.
    Have you ever read a comic story ‘Hotel des Boobs”? it is about a man puzzled by the paradoxes of topless women at a resort as to what is and isn’t allowed – his first time in a nudism culture.

    • I am familiar with the story of the couple at the resort and the young wife’s unhappiness in having her young husband seemingly enthralled by the naked breast.

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