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Will Smith Opens Up About Having a 'Psychosomatic Reaction' to Orgasm

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

In Will Smith’s new memoir, “Will,” he mentions that he had a psychosomatic reaction to orgasms from hypersexuality following a break up due to infidelity. He had sex with so many women that experiencing orgasms led to his gagging and vomiting. Psychosomatic reactions like this, particularly when it comes to sexuality and intimacy, are not talked about enough, and I want to thank Will Smith for opening the conversation on these issues. I am experiencing something similar, and it is not something that I have chosen to talk about until now.

I would like to preface my story with honesty and say that this is not easy for me to talk about. My own psychosomatic reactions surrounding sexuality and orgasms are something that I am trying to learn more about through therapy, but I still don’t completely understand them myself.

In my life, sex has never felt safe. My first sexual experience was not consensual, and the sexual experiences that followed it throughout my life felt as though I was being taken advantage of, and that my body did not belong to myself. Even in a committed, long-term relationship I experienced feeling as though my body was gross because my partner rarely wanted to participate in intimacy with me, and they criticized my body by telling me that I had “stopped taking care of myself.” This made me feel that the lack of intimacy was my fault because I was undesirable, and I began to develop symptoms of disgust with myself as a sexual being, and with my own body.

Following these experiences, I have become very averse to any form of intimacy, even personal, individual intimacy — such as masturbation. I experience symptoms of gagging, vomiting and genuine disgust when faced with any thought of sexuality — especially when I have instances of longing for sexual experiences. I especially experience these symptoms when my body feels as though it is craving intimacy. I can’t even bring myself to masturbate anymore because having orgasms feels so unsafe to me, and the sensation of experiencing an orgasm makes me feel physically ill and my anxiety skyrockets. Sometimes, however, I feel like I have to masturbate to release some of the bodily tension I feel, but even during these times the act feels unsafe, and I suffer from the symptoms of disgust following the act — especially symptoms of sickness like gagging, vomiting and nausea.

As far as having sex with anyone else, I cannot bring myself to even think about this. Masturbating feels unsafe enough, so much so that the thought of being intimate with a partner feels flat out impossible. My psychosomatic experiences of gagging, vomiting and deep disgust with anything sexual, as well as disgust with my own body, make anything sexual feel unsafe for me. I experience panic attacks and extreme anxiety surrounding thoughts of anything sexual involving my own body and having any sexual thought has severely increased my symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The sexual urges and thoughts feel so intrusive that I become fearful and distrustful of myself. To be honest, even writing this story is causing me intense anxiety.

However, learning about Will Smith’s experience has made me think more about my own psychosomatic experiences surrounding sexuality, and it has really forced me to explore more about the causes of my anxiety, panic, gagging, vomiting and disgust when faced with anything sexual — even if they are just thoughts. Lately I have been living in constant anxiety over fear of flashbacks of my sexual experiences, any personal sexual urges, or even experiencing sexual scenes in movies, television, books and more.

Will Smith has helped me to think deeply about what I am experiencing and to see it in a normalized light. I hope that more people will be able to share their experiences after reading my story as well. This may feel scary or uncomfortable, but you are not alone. We can get through this.

Photo via Will Smith’s Instagram

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