Absorption during sex means that all mental faculties are coherently focused on the sexual act. Such a state of consciousness during sex thereafter is an extreme as well as special form of ‘‘flow” which can be experienced as peak states in sports, work, or musical play, when one is fully immersed (focused) in challenging activities typically accompanied by a loss of time and the surrounding space. Similarly, absorption during sex means that one loses track of time and space. The intercorrelations between the variables assessing the states of consciousness confirm this notion, since the awareness of time and space are positively correlated in both women and men, and the loss of time awareness is related to the speeding up of subjective time in women. One difference between the typical ‘‘flow” of time during non-sexual activities and sexual flow as assessed in our study is the increased sense of the bodily self. Typically, a full immersion in activities leading to the experience of flow and a diminished awareness of time is characterized by a loss of the sense of self (Csikszentmihalyi & Csikszentmihalyi, 1988). That is, the feeling of self and time are conjointly modulated (Craig, 2009; Wittmann, 2015). The case of altered states of consciousness during sex however is a special situation where the immersion happens within pleasurable body states. The body itself is then the focus of awareness which nevertheless leads to a loss of time and space. …

In conclusion, our findings provide empirical support for the hypotheses that absorbed states are related to female sexual responsiveness, and to a lesser extent also to male sexual responsiveness.

Conscious Cogn.

2016;42:135-141. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2016.03.013

Costa RM, Pestana J, Costa D, Wittmann M.


Altered states of consciousness lead to profound changes in the sense of self, time and space. We assessed how these changes were related to sexual responsiveness during sex. 116 subjects reported (a) intensity of awareness concerning body, space and time, and (b) satisfaction, desire, arousal, and orgasm occurrence. We differentiated vaginal intercourse orgasm from noncoital orgasm. Female vaginal intercourse orgasm was further differentiated as with or without concurrent clitoral masturbation. Overall, sexual responsiveness was related to greater body awareness and lesser time and space awareness. Satisfaction, desire, and arousal were especially associated with less time awareness in women. Female orgasms during vaginal intercourse were related to greater body awareness and lesser time awareness, but noncoital orgasms were unrelated. Our findings provide empirical support for the hypotheses that altered states of consciousness with attentional absorption are strongly related to sexual responsiveness in women, and to a lesser extent in men.