Psychology and Politics
Atlanta Polyamory Weekend, Atlanta, Georgia
Polyamory is a contested term, generally referring to open,
ethical, non-monogamous relationships. Making sense of the sources,
practices, and implications of polyamory brings in material from
psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other disciplines that seek to
understand relationships and intimacy, sexual identity and
practice, and competing views of human nature.
My own experience in the ethical non-monogamous world came
initially via interconnections between social psychology and anarchist
political theory, both of which have much to say about things we often
take for granted about relationships and sexuality.
A large literature critical of monogamy and the nuclear family
existed long before the terminology of polyamory developed. In the
1960s and 70s, many of us read books such as Open Marriage relationshi-bending
science fiction by Robert Heinlein, novels by Robert Rimmer, and other
spurs to escaping traditional relationships in search of free love and
communal bonding. At the level of academic and political theory, there
were also critiques of broader issues such as the nuclear family,
patriarchy, family life under capitalism, the role of sexual repression
in political authoritarianism, and the liberating effect of throwing
aside things we take for granted.
Questions to consider:
- how does our view of human nature affect how we understand
- views of monogamy, free love, nuclear family, intentional
- why do we think human nature is what we think it is?
- how does political ideology relate to human nature?
- liberal vs. conservative, anarchist/libertarian, Marxist,
- political arrangements reflect views of what’s “natural”
to human beings & to human society
- what’s inevitable vs. what’s modifiable
- how does our sense of polyamory connect to other
sex-positive communities such as swinging, LGBT, and BDSM?
- how can psychological and political work contribute to poly
acceptance and success?
- enhancing skills in personal growth, communication,
intimacy, sexuality, etc. can help us deal with common issues -
e.g., jealousy, insecurity, safety, stability, scheduling,
- alternative poly-useful settings: HAI, New Culture, NVC,
Byron Katie, etc.
- enhancing political acceptance can bring legal rights
- how can poly contribute to psychological and political
- expose mainstream therapists & academics to positive
- encouraging re-thinking basic assumptions about
relationships and sexuality can inspire re-thinking assumptions about
other things taken for granted -
- hierarchy, family, possessiveness,… capitalism,
centralization, cultural expectations,…..
Books I've liked specifically on
- Dossie Easton & Janet W. Hardy (2009) - The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to
Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures (2nd
- Tristan Taormino (2008) - Opening
Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships
- Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jethá (2010) - Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of
- Deborah Anapol (2010) - Polyamory
in the Twenty-First Century: Love and Intimacy with Multiple Partners
Other books "poly-friendly" and/or "sex-positive" and/or dealing with
personal growth/interpersonal communication/intimacy in poly-friendly
- Jett Psaris & Marlena S. Lyons
(2000) - Undefended Love
- Clinton Callahan (2010) - Directing the Power of Conscious Feelings:
Living Your Own Truth
- Marshall Rosenberg (2003) - Nonviolent Communication: A Language of
Sexuality Psychology and
Web links on Sexuality,
Intimacy, Polyamory, and Ethical Non-monogamy