Dave: Actually, it's quite common in erotic cinema.
In fiction, sex heals physical wounds. But sex can also heal emotional wounds. Addiction, depression over terminal illness, PTSD... they all fade instantly the moment our protagonist 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 it is all too often used as a kind of therapy for victims of sexual assault. The theory goes that if bad sex hurts you, good sex with somebody you love cancels it out.
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 (note however that the depressed are less likely in the first place to be going out, to make contact, to meet a partner).
Intimate Healing is much more however than 'sex' as a mood elevator to raise molecular serotonin background. The feeling of deep intimacy with another human being can and does heal major psychological wounds, and is often expressed through the act of lovemaking. It is often shown in this way in fiction, but the 'just had sex' is not the point.
See also Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex, celebrating the feeling of aliveness through sex in the aftermath of life-threatening experiences.
- 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 to get ready to challenge Queen Nakia.
- 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 Guts a Cooldown Hug and says that now they've revealed their crappy childhoods to each other, they are truly equal, as friends and as lovers.
- 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 are both of them 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.
- 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.
- It 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.
- 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 outwardly sympathetic, he still listens to her woes and allows her to vent), but she doesn't exactly feel better afterwards. And for worse, it's followed by something even more traumatic for her...
- 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!"
- 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 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 by Rape backstory to Souma (and shortly 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.
- Kurose from Ten Count is attempting this by engaging in intimate situations with his mysophobic patient as "exposure therapy". It's more likely that it has something to do with Kurose being in love with Shirotani, however.
- Happens ironically enough in the hentai series Tokio Kidou Police of all things. The main character, Noriko Ibuki, finds it hard to form a romantic relationship with the team member she has a crush on due to her being partially raped during her first time having sex (she planned on having sex with the man to begin with, but he was far more aggressive than she was comfortable with and didn't listen to her pleas for him to be gentler). She manages to overcome this handicap when her female coworker has sex with her in a gentle, caring way, doing so because she had this very trope in mind.
- Tokyo Ghoul: Happens in chapter 125 of re between Touka and Kaneki. There are many reasons behind this: it's the consummation of their love , it puts an end to Kaneki 's virginity, they've both gone for too long without physical affection, and both are very depressed and stressed due to life's trying circumstances, which include having the CCG after them and the capture of Touka's Muggle Best Friend Yoriko, due to her association with Touka herself.
- Wolfwood and Milly try 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 more emotionally stable sans-shirt 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.
- In the Hentai, Descipline: the Record of a Crusade the male lead becomes hypersensitive from all the action he's been getting, so his female roommates send him to the nurse's office where she uses a variety of techniques to cure his ailment.
- In Lord Marksman and Vanadis, after Elen is rescued from the hands of Greast, she confesses to Tigre how terrified she was during the ordeal, and her description of her reactions in the days points to her having symptoms of PTSD and a sense of Survivor's Guilt over shame that she's so traumatized when she knows many other women out there have it far worse than her (since Greast never got around to actually raping her). In a moment of impulse, Tigre then proposes he make love to her. In all fairness, the two have had feelings for each other for quite some time, and she does call him out on how unusual this is for him before accepting and having Their First Time together, and the much more significant part of this for her comes from the two finally having a real chance to resolve their UST and have a long emotional talk about where their relationship will go from there.
Elen: I mean, youre asking me that after hearing such a story, so What do you mean? You arent the kind of man to comfort a woman by sleeping with her.Tigre: Do I have to say it? If I had arrived even slightly later, Elen might have been taken by that guy. When I think about it, Im so horrified that I cant bear it.(Beat)Tigre: Like I said, I──Elen: Can you do it? Can you make my everything yours? Can you get rid of all the disgusting sensations that he left on my body and replace them with yours?(Tigre nods)Elen: Th-then I want to hear your words first.Tigre: Elen. I like you. More than that, I love you. Since before, since a long time ago.Elen: Tigre. I like you. Yes, I like you, too... no, I love you.
- Dolphin did this to Aquaman after he became embittered after losing his hand to the terrorist Charybdis.
- In Top 10: Beyond The Farthest Precinct, new officer Curlew sleeps with her partner Dust Devil to help him get through his depression at losing his mother.
- Secret Six has a non-sexual example, with Scandal cuddling in bed with Bane to help him detox from venom, because she had goaded him into relapsing in the first place and thus feels obligated to help him get clean again.
- Infamously done by Morrison in his New X-Men run, when Emma Frost and Cyclops have a mental affair while A) she is treating him as his psychiatrist, and B) he's currently married to Jean Grey.
- 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", where 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 rescued by Japan some time later— 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 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.
- In Sleepless sequel Manehattan Blues Babs Seed overcomes her Heroic BSoD by having sex with Nightcap.
- In Shatterheart Syaoran and Kurogane's temperaments improve and both get less depressed after they start turning to each other for affection. Subverted in Nihon, Syaoran tries tempting Kurogane with affection to get him to calm down. It ends in tears.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bad Boys II: "Dammit, Mike! You go to therapy to resolve your issues! Not bang your therapist!"
- Barbarella: Professor Ping explains to Barbarella that the reason Pygar can't fly is low morale. Barbarella has sex with him and he regains the ability to fly.
- Subverted in Horrible Bosses — Kurt's attempt to "fuck the crazy out of" Julia has only temporary effects.
- 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.
- Subverted in A Brother's Price. Kij Porter, a noblewoman, is said to have gone to a "crib" (a brothel), in order to cope with the death of several of her relatives. Due to high prevalence of STD, a noblewoman wouldn't usually have sex out of wedlock, so her grief is universally considered the reason why she did something so utterly foolish. It is not mentioned whether it actually helped. It's later learned that she most likely did not actually use a crib, but claimed she had to cover her daughter's true paternity.
- 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 rid 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 courtesan (altogether a Geisha). 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 "courtesan" 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.
- Subverted in Dragon Bones. Garannon was raped and his parents were killed by the king's soldiers. The king recalls how he found the frightened boy and "made it better" while kissing Garannon's neck. However, Garannon hates his guts, and was about 15 at the time, making this sexual abuse of a child. The king is well aware that Garannon hates him and enjoys the fact that Garannon sleeps with him to protect his younger brother.
- 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 Damsels in Distress 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 from what would now be called PTSD.
- A lighter example in Peony by Pearl S. Buck. Peony, a young maid in a rich house, is forcefully kissed by an obnoxious guest who lusts after her. Peony runs away in disgust, and a few minutes later she finds the family's son, who she loves. She tells him what has just happened, and offers him her lips, requesting "Take my lips and clean them." He kisses her, effectively "cleaning" her from the assault.
- In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Randle McMurphy brings prostitutes onto the mental ward to make the other patients into men. After sleeping with one of the prostitutes, Billy Bibbit becomes confident enough to finally stand up to Nurse Ratched. This all goes down the toilet once Nurse Ratched threatens to tell Billy's mother about what happened, which drives poor Billy to suicide.
- The Wheel of Time: Myrelle is known for being able to save Warders from the crushing death wish that overcomes them when their bonded Aes Sedai dies. This involves taking up their Warder bond and, by all accounts, sleeping with them as Mindlink Mates.
- Angel's season-long descent into darkness and apathy is cured by sleeping with Darla, his sire and enemy. Angel turned evil after sleeping with Buffy, so has been avoiding sex for years. He eventually sleeps with Darla as a Despair Event Horizon but when he fails to turn evil the morning after, realises things aren't quite as bad as he thought.
Gunn: So, you had an epiphany, did you? So, what you just wake up and "bang"?
Angel: [smirking] Well, it was sort of the other way around.
- 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.
- Happens in the 6th season of Mad Men where Stan confesses his love for Peggy and tells her that he is sad over the death of his cousin in Vietnam. She tells him he has to feel his pain and not bury it with sex and drugs, later she finds him "at it like rabbits" with the daughter of the recently departed Frank Gleason.
- 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.
- On Sisters, Georgie's therapist plants the suggestion that she was molested by her father. When she consequently struggles with being intimate with her husband, and well as a simultaneous attraction to her doctor, he seduces her under the guise of helping her get over her sexual fears. Pretty soon, their therapy sessions consist of nothing but her coming to his office for sex.
- Subverted on Inspector Lynley, when the titular Inspector winds up sleeping with an old acquaintance he hasn't seen in years in a grief-stricken attempt to get over his wife's murder. This not only fails spectacularly but actually gets him arrested for said old friend's subsequent murder, and his partner, Barbara Havers, does not pull her punches when she tells him what a stupid idea she thinks it was.
- The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Mother" involves a therapist accused of sleeping with her patient. The truth is considerably more complicated; the therapist was using roleplay to try and address the patient's considerable issues with his mother, but the patient sexualized that roleplay and convinced himself that their relationship was far more intimate than it actually was.
- In Lucifer (2016), Linda gives Lucifer therapy sessions in exchange for sex through a sizable chunk of the first season, despite it being a huge violation with therapist protocol. She eventually breaks off the sex deal, choosing to keep the therapist-patient relationship professional. She later postulates that Lucifer lives his life through sex, drugs and reckless partying as a means of curbing his own loneliness.
- Mass Effect:
- The asari known as the Consort has a reputation for this, but in practice she more often simply offers advice and conversation. Not to say that she won't have sex with her clients, but she only does this if she thinks that will actually help them.
- 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 CROSSCHANNEL. 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, and it works on both Touka and Matsuri.
- Used in some of the routes in Katawa Shoujo, with very different results per scene:
- 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, the player can still get the two Bad Endings.) It's played straighter in their Good Ending, however, as it takes place after Rin gets chewed by Nomiya for not following her plans and Hisao manages to successfully comfort and calm her down.
- This also happens on Shizune Hakamichi's route, when Misha (of all people) unexpectedly comes to Hisao's room, looking very depressed, and after a short talk she 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 despite caring for Hisao quite a bit she's probably jealous of the budding Shizune-Hisao couple. Whoops.
- 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 à 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.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: For the first and second acts, Alexis has mood swings that can be rated between "slightly miffed" and "HOLY SHIT I DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD BEND SOMEONE LIKE THAT!", which leaves a 400-year old infiltrator saying "your sister is the third scariest thing I've ever met." When she finally gets laid with a shapeshifting giant, if that helps, her personality shifts entirely to "reasonable and somewhat cheery". Lampshaded by everyone, though most don't know the cause.