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Intimate Psychotherapy
Erin: What kind of therapist sleeps with his patient?
Dave: Actually, it's quite common in erotic cinema.
Titus

In fiction, sex heals physical wounds. Sex also heals emotional wounds; even PTSD, addiction, or depression over terminal illness fade instantly after our hero is in the loving embrace of their love interest, making this the logical extreme of Sex for Solace (which may or may not make problems go away). In Fan Fic parlance, this is often called the 'magical healing cock' and mocked, as it is often Narm (or deeply offensive when, as all too often, the magical healing cock is used as instant therapy for a rape victim).

Note that Tropes Are Not Bad. Sex can be a great mood-elevator and, to some degree, help with certain hang-ups or insecurities, or even depression, due to it releasing large amounts of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, the lack of which is believed to be a significant molecular background to depression. The key issue is overstating this effect. For instance, someone with a case of Dissociative Identity Disorder (a.k.a. multiple personalities) won't suddenly "get better" after some great sex. After all, if sex completely and instantly cured all emotional wounds, there would be no therapists.

See also Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex, stress-relief through sex in the aftermath of life-threatening experiences.

Do Not Try This at Home. Seriously. Having someone attempt to get over mental or emotional hang-ups by having sex is rarely if ever a good idea, and very illegal if you are counseling them in a professional setting.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Legend of the Blue Wolves has a double example, as this "helps" Jonathan to get over being falsely accused of theft, then beaten and raped by the culprit, while also helping Leonard to deal with the tragic death of his beloved younger brother several years ago (his feelings for Jonathan are partially driven by a Big Brother Instinct, as the guy looks a LOT like an older version of said brother).
  • In Berserk, while Guts and Casca are making love - Guts begins to have flashbacks of his dark and horrific childhood ordeal of being anally raped and being betrayed by his adoptive father altogether. When this happens, years of repressed post traumatic stress are released as Guts has an emotional breakdown in front of Casca. Afterwards, he tries to go away and deal with his issues on his own, thinking himself a freak and soiled, but Casca gives a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming by giving Guts a Cool Down Hug, and said that now that they've revealed their crappy childhoods to each other, that they were truly equal to each other, as friends and as lovers.
  • Subverted in Haou Airen. Kurumi has sex with her Bastard Boyfriend's Dragon Fuuron after a really hard time (including a scene in which she tells him about said problems, and while he's not really receptive he still listens to her), but she doesn't exactly feel better afterwards.
  • In Anatolia Story, Yuri and Kail go through this when Kail has sex with Yuri to reassure her before they return to Hattusa from Egypt, and Yuri has get ready to challenge Queen Nakia.
  • Used in Kusatta Kyoushino Houteishiki, when Masami and Tooru have sex shortly after Masami tells Tooru about having been sexually abused in the past, then collapses crying since he feels tainted — and Tooru tells him "You're NOT Defiled Forever by your past, I love you anyway!".
  • Kind of seems to be the basis of Bird's Nest and Michel's relationship in Copernicus Breathing, at least at the beginning. The first time it happens is after Bird's Nest's Freak Out when he is reminded of his dead brother and the circus life.
    • Happens before this after Mina falls from the trapeze, mirroring the death of Bird's Nest's brother and his consequential Freak Out
  • Happens after a Slap-Slap-Kiss moment between Jeremy and Ian in A Cruel God Reigns. Jeremy had been recounting to Ian all the times Greg sexually abused him but later hallucinated that Greg was following him. The trope is strengthened in this instance because of Jeremy's Freak Out immediately beforehand.
  • In Sakura Gari, Masataka and Souma's last sexual encounter fits in perfectly, as it takes place after Masataka's Heroic BSOD where he explains his Child Of Rape backstory to Souma (and few after having learned about Souma's own Dark and Troubled Past), and Souma replies with both a Cooldown Hug and a You Are Not Alone talk.
  • Wolfwood and Milly tried this in the Trigun anime. More exactly, Wolfwood has just killed Zazie and it turns out he's way more affected than he lets on, then he breaks down in tears when speaking to Milly, and then she manages to soothe him with a Cooldown Hug and gentle words. Some scenes later, Milly is sleeping in the nearby bed (though she's fully covered by the bed clothes) and a sans-shirt and more emotionally stable Wolfwood is having a smoke. It's later confirmed when, after Wolfwood's heartbreaking death, we see Milly crying her heart out — and wearing a set of pajamas, instead of her normal clothes.
  • VERY strongly implied to have taken place between Momo Hinamori and Sousuke Aizen in Bleach. At some point in the Soul Society arc, Momo goes to Aizen's quarters in the middle of the night so she can ask him for advice, and they have a nice talk... There are two catches, however: not only both of them are in their sleeping robes during the scene, but the next one shows us Momo sleeping in Aizen's futon while he leaves his quarters fully clothed in the morning. The implication was so strong that the scene was bowdlerized in the anime: Momo shows up in her Shinigami outfit rather than her pajamas, and she's seen sleeping on the tatami of Aizen's room instead of his bed.

    Comic Books 
  • Dolphin did this to Aquaman after he became embittered after losing his hand to the terrorist Charybdis.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Kalash93 story, Relax, a soldier regularly visits this one prostitute when he's on leave. We see a session which begins with him very obviously freaked out and not at all well, but he calms down during the act. It's actually quite heartwarming.
  • The Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic "Some scars are easy to hide" has Lithuania and Poland having sex to help Lithuania get over his depression and anxiety resulting from having been sexually abused by Russia. Notable for giving rise to the meme "I'm damaged goods, Feliks!"
    • Another Hetalia fic, "Mistakes", has China attempting to do this with a random hooker, and then later with France, in an attempt to heal himself. It does not work.
    • Subverted in the Japan/Taiwan fic "Cages". A recently colonized Taiwan has sex with Imperial Japan after having been forced into footbinding/introduced to opium addiction/raped by China in the prequel Dollhouse, and then rescued by Japan once he takes her it — but it doesn't fix her problems. She does start to get better under his care, but the in-fic sex scene between them is both an allusion to the hardships of Taiwanese "comfort women" and a sign that neither of them really believes in the trope.
  • A Growing Affection: Kakashi seeks sex from his lover as a distraction from a recent trauma. After a later event, Hinata does the same for Naruto.
  • A Lost Forever Digimon fic has the grown up Koushirou and Jyou as a couple. Jyou is driven to a powerful Heroic BSOD at the start after failing to save the lives of a young boy and his parents; he discusses the incident with Koushirou (whom he thought about since he knew about his past, and that's one of the reasons why Jyou splintered so badly), who let him pour his heart out and then helps him relax and forget about it via sex.
  • James applies this to Jessie several times in Cori Falls's Pokémon fanfiction, most notably Their First Time and in "A Warm Place".
  • Destiny Is A Hazy Thing: While it isn't sex, Kiba and Karin are noted to be practically fused together during the mass funeral after the invasion. Karin, on the other hand, finds her self at peace when living in Kiba's personal space bubble before this.

    Film 
  • Horrendously subverted in the movie The Legend Of Hell House. The young female psychic thinks that by offering herself to the ghost of a tormented young man, he might know peace and move on. Let's just say that this does not turn out to be a romantic and cathartic experience like that one scene in Ghost. She gets violated by the vindictive apparition, which was never a young troubled man but the ghost of the house's murderous old owner.
  • Attack Girls Swim Team vs. The Undead
  • In the movie Baby Boy, the main character loses his temper and slaps his girlfriend, and then she starts breaking down and crying uncontrollably. So he picks her up, carries her to the bedroom and gives her oral sex while sad music plays. She forgives him and it's never mentioned again.
  • Very much subverted in Antichrist. The main character's husband thinks it's a good idea to treat her depression himself. She uses sex as a method of dulling the pain. It ends badly.
  • Subverted in Horrible Bosses—Kurt's attempt to "fuck the crazy out of" Julia has only temporary effects.
  • Bad Boys II: "Dammit Mike! You go to therapy to resolve your issues! Not bang your therapist!"

    Literature 
  • Marian helps Robin Hood through his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from The Crusades by sleeping with him in the novel Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson.
  • A somewhat more literal example appears in Broken Angels, the second in Richard K. Morgan's hard sci-fi series. The protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, tracks down Tanya Wardani, the only archaeologist with the knowledge required for his mission - unfortunately, she's been tortured far enough that she's withdrawn from reality. It's stated that normally, she would takes months, maybe years to recover from this - however, Takeshi doesn't have that long. So, he uses some of his Envoy mental conditioning techniques to bring her back. It's described this way in the novel:
    Envoy co-option techniques make rather brutal use of the deep wells of psychosexual energy that drive humans at a genetic level. Properly mined, the matrix of animal strength on tap in those places will speed up psychic healing by whole orders of magnitude. You start with light hypnosis, move into quick-fix personality engagement and thence to close bodily contact that only misses definition as sexual foreplay on a technicality. A gentle, hypnotically induced orgasm usually secures the bonding process, but at the final stage with Wardani, something had made me pull back. The whole process was uncomfortably close to a sexual assault as it was.
  • Subverted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Imzadi. Deanna Troi, shortly after meeting Riker for the first time on Betazed, suggests that they take off their clothes and spoon, saying that it's a technique she learned in her psychotherapy classes for moving past the desires of the flesh. And they do precisely that—lie there naked and talk without doing anything sexual. Later, Deanna's professor says he's never heard of any such technique (except in treating sexual dysfunctions, natch) and that it would probably lead to sex.
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls is an early and successful example. Maria wants Robert to make love to her to replace her rape memories.
  • Appears in the second Kushiel's Legacy trilogy in an unusually well-justified example, where Imriel's experience at Balm House helps him get over a lot of his hangups about sex.
  • In the A.J.Quinell's book Snap Shot, The sex between on of the protagonists (a war photographer) and a psychologist (another protagonist) who showed compassion towards him, help him to finally get ride of a trauma he got in one of his missions.
  • In The Stolen Throne, the first prequel book to the Dragon Age: Origins video game, Rowan comforts her future husband Maric shortly after he executed his former lover, Katriel, for being a spy. After hours of sobbing and holding each other, it's strongly implied that they make love for the first time. Notably, it doesn't resolve Maric's guilt over Katriel's death, which he feels even years later. It just helps him cope.
  • The relationship between Cassandra Kresnov and her unit shrink (in her back story) consisted of a literal version of the trope. This is noted to have been unusual, but was ignored by the brass because it worked.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar 'verse, there is a profession called kestra'chern which is a combination of healer, therapist (physical and mental), masseuse, makeover artist, and high class whore. They do different things for different clients, who have different needs - true kestra'chern make it clear that they give the client what they feel the client needs (subject to consent), and not necessarily what the client wants (or thinks they want). Amberdrake, one of the main characters of The Black Gryphon and a Non-Action Guy, is rather irritated at how the public seems to fixate on the "whore" part of the job, and frequently has to deal with clients who assume that sex is a guaranteed part of the package. In one case he's very strongly attracted to one of his clients, but scrupulously refrains from making overtures until several session of Epiphany Therapy get her past the worst of her emotional damage.
  • Possibly the most royally fucked-up example of this trope ever committed to the printed page crops up in The Weapon, by Michael Z. Williamson. The Designated Hero attempts to use it to cheer himself up after he and his unit massacre an entire village full of non-combatants in a scene that is very clearly inspired by the My Lai Massacre, only with official sanction. This isn't even the most disturbing chapter in the book.
  • John D MacDonald's thriller hero character Travis McGee almost always ends up providing sexual healing to Distressed Damsels as well as sorting out their material problems.
  • Used more than once in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Some examples are a then teenaged Colonel Aureliano losing his virginity to Pilar Ternera after an Heroic BSOD over his feelings for the much younger Remedios Moscote and Aureliano Babilonia losing his to Nigromanta after his Love Epiphany about Amaranta Ursula (And as a bonus, she's surprised to see how... "gifted" Babilonia actually is.
  • Fritz Leiber's time-war novel The Big Time is told from the viewpoint of an "entertainer" (the official euphemism) in an R&R station anchored outside the timestream, whose job it is to soothe and heal soldiers suffering PTSD (though the coining of that term was some years in the {real} future.

    Live Action TV 
  • Angel's season-long decent into darkness and apathy is cured by sleeping with Darla, his sire and enemy.
  • Averted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy tries to get rid of her Season 6 Heroic BSOD by having lusty rough sex with Spike, but keeps dropping back into depression because the Secret Relationship makes her feel even more guilty.
  • Dexter: Dexter's relationship with Leila in season two apparently puts him on the road to recovering from his addiction to murder. Or not.
  • Call Me Fitz: After burying Babs, guess how does Fitzy comfort Ali.
    • Earlier in the episode, Fitz gets this from Meghan.
  • Chris Ryan's Strike Back. The protagonist has sex with a pretty female army sergeant, but then gets taken down a peg when the female intelligence agent says she's a professional Honey Trap who had sex with him because the shrink said he was suffering from sexual inadequacy issues. "In short, you needed a shag."
  • Subverted in Parks and Recreation. Chris temporarily feels better after having a one night stand with Bobby Newport's campaign manager, but he eventually plunges into depression.
  • Shado does this in Arrow to snap Oliver out of My God, What Have I Done? after killing a man.
  • On One Life to Live, after police detective Andy is nearly raped by two suspects she was pursuing, boyfriend Antonio gently undresses her and leads her into the shower. They don't have sex, but the experience is clearly intimate enough to count.

    Video Games 
  • Played with in Jack's route in Mass Effect 2. The sequence that makes her somewhat less psychotic is clearly "intimate," but doesn't involve sex. Earlier in the game, it's possible to have sex with her, but this confirms her belief that people only care about her sexually, and results in a bad end to the romance.
  • Subverted in Cross Channel. Misato decided that having sex with Taichi would be the best way to atone for her sin of sending her father to jail. Of course, she's also implied to be self-defeating, and the sex arguably made the whole situation worse. At least it helped in sending her back to the original world.
  • Tomohiro helps his friends this way in LEAVEs.
  • Attempted and failed in Katawa Shoujo. Hisao's first sex scene with Rin Tezuka comes after she has a breakdown in her despair to create and express herself through art, and Hisao finds her half-naked and barely lucid in her atelier. He gives her a Cooldown Hug and then things go the H-way... but it only offers both of them very limited relief, and their troubles aren't solved. (Heck, you can still get the two Bad Endings.)
    • This also happens on Shizune's route, when Misha unexpectedly comes to Hisao's room, obviously depressed, and asks him to "comfort" her. Predictably, giving in to her request only makes things worse for both her and Hisao. Less predictably, Misha's actually in love with Shizune, and probably isn't even attracted to men. She only asked Hisao for sex out of desperation; Shizune rejected her years ago, and she's probably jealous of the budding Shizune-Hisao couple. Whoops.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Dragon Doctors, one of the reasons Aki gives for sleeping with Goro is reassuring the latter that being turned into a girl didn't make her less of a person.
  • In Ménage ŕ 3, impetuous wannabe psychotherapist Kiley and perceptive promiscuous bisexual Matt meet while both undergoing therapy from the same professional (for problems that have more in common than they realise), begin comparing notes constructively, and rather rapidly end up in bed together. They both refer to this as "therapy", perhaps jokingly — but they do both reckon to be getting a lot of help from it.


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