Published: August 7, 2013
My dad just died. He was a pedophile. A lot of stuff is coming up for both my brother and me now. There are many things he did that we know about, but some things happened when we were so young that we’re not sure about. My bro just said he’s had dreams throughout his life – many more of them lately – about a cock being in his mouth. He’s hetero and has been married for more than 20 years. He wonders if any other straight men have dreams like this or if it is some manifestation of the abuse. He is too afraid to ask any of his straight male friends. So I ask you: Do straight men ever have dreams of a cock in their mouth? Or is it odd? Gay? What?
The Brothers Grim
“I am very sorry for TBG’s loss, as complicated as it is,” said Dr. James Cantor, a psychologist, associate professor at the University of Toronto and editor-in-chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. “The quick answer to his question: no. Although it is unusual, having dreams like that does not, by itself, mean a man is gay or otherwise into penises. (OK, technically, it’s ‘penes.’) Although there haven’t been any formal surveys, gay men usually dream (and fantasize while masturbating) about men in general: muscles and faces, celebrities and crushes, the range of their favorite sex acts, etc. I haven’t heard a gay man – friend or client – describe dreams restricted lifelong to just penis-in-mouth.”
Dr. Cantor offers a caveat for other readers: “For a long time, many folks believed that such dreams were repressed memories trying to surface. But there was never any good evidence for it. In fact, a great deal of harm has been done by well-meaning ‘therapists’ who, instead of helping clients to recover lost memories, wound up creating false memories of abuse and destroying whole families.” So very clearly and for the record: “Having such dreams, by itself, does not mean a person was abused.”
What is odd, however, is the longstanding, repetitive nature of your dreams.
“Although dreams do not tell us anything specific (again, these are not memories-in-waiting or great symbolic themes), they can suggest that there is something on his mind,” said Dr. Cantor. “If life is going generally well, and this is just a harmless eccentricity, so be it. If, however, your brother is experiencing more general distress, then that distress – whether fallout from childhood abuse, from the death of your father, or from something else – could be targeted with a bona fide, licensed therapist. Complicated situations like yours almost always involve multiple strong and conflicting emotions. Because you say lots of stuff (other than these dreams) is coming up for you both, an objective outsider-listener can indeed be of great help in sorting it out.”
This week on the Savage Lovecast, Dan interviews feminist blogger Amanda Marcotte on the hysteria surrounding hookup culture on college campuses. Find it at savagelovecast.com.
> Email Dan Savage