There are many ways to come. Love Matters reported earlier on how you can have an orgasm without sex - some people can get off just by kissing, for example, or touching breasts or nipples. And of course there are wet dreams – night-time orgasms with no physical contact at all. But can you deliberately think yourself to the point of ecstasy?
Science writer Kayt Sukel has been examining the phenomenon in her book Dirty Minds – How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships.
When she first heard about it, she says, she didn’t quite believe it. “But I started talking to my friends, and all of a sudden learned that I had a handful of friends who could do it. I think it’s a lot more common than people think!”
And the orgasms people reach just by thinking themselves into it doesn’t differ greatly from the usual, run-of-the-mill one. Barry Komisaruk of Rutgers University in New Jersey, who studies the female orgasm by scanning the brains of test subjects while they climax (yes, really!), has been researching the ‘thinking off’ phenomenon for a while. “We see that the brain regions activated during orgasms stimulated by thinking are very similar” to those activated by masturbating, he says.
So is sex really all in our heads? “We’re learning just how important the brain, and thoughts, and fantasies are,” says Sukel, “and other research shows that just by thinking about touches we’re activating the same regions in the brain that are actually activated when you do touch.”
It’s no news that fantasising about about sexy situations can be a turn-on. But now researchers are looking at what actually happens in the brain when those thoughts actually lead to orgasm.
“Time and time again, scientific research shows that you don’t need any physical stimulation to reach orgasm,” adds Sukel. “Basically, when they say that the brain is the biggest sex organ – that’s not a cliché. It’s true.”
It certainly makes sense, especially if you think about it the other way around. After all, the brain can also be a big old killjoy when it comes to sex. Sukel mentions people getting bogged down and overthinking sex or getting too distracted, so they can’t reach orgasm.
But the opposite is true, too: “I know that engaging fantasies, engaging the brain in that way, makes orgasm come about faster for most people – and [in some cases] the physical touch isn’t even needed.”
Having sexual fantasies is certainly not an exclusively female domain. Can men think themselves off, too? It appears that they can. Although ‘thinking off’ has only been studied on female subjects so far, both Komisaruk and Sukel say that several men have told them that they were able to ‘think off’ as well.
Can anyone headgasm?
So the big question is: can everybody do it? Could you train yourself to be able to think off? Unfortunately, from a science standpoint this remains a question, as it hasn’t been properly researched yet. But both Sukel and Komisaruk are optimistic. “The answer is still out,” says Sukel, “but it’s entirely plausible that all of us have this ability, we just never really learned how to harness it.”
Komisaruk adds: “While there is no clear scientific answer yet, some of the women whom we studied claimed that they became able to stimulate their thought orgasms using meditation and yoga techniques, for example, imagining energy pulses coursing up and down through their body. So it seems probable that people can train themselves to have thinking orgasms.”
It is an ability that could come in handy. Sukel has a nice example: “A very good friend of mine does it. She has a corporate job, and she said that was often the way that she gets through long, boring conference calls at work. She just puts the phone on mute and thinks herself off!”
Can you 'think off'? We'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment here or on Facebook!