Exploring the Meaning of Orgasmic Absence Using the Story Completion Method


When orgasms are positioned by biomedical discourse as the pinnacle of healthy sexual expression, and when popular culture urges individuals to work on their sexual technique to get bigger, better, and more intense orgasmic pleasure, how do people account for the absence of orgasm? This question was explored in a qualitative study using the story completion method where participants complete the end of a story in which a male or female partner does not have an orgasm during sex. Story completion was originally developed as a projective measure within psychoanalytic traditions, designed to access people’s inner thoughts, feelings, and motivations. This case study describes the benefits of using the story completion method as a social constructionist approach to examining the sensitive topic of sexuality. Considered in this discussion is the use of ambiguous stimuli; the benefits of writing about others rather than the self; the creative method of responding; and its merits as a relative quick, cheap, and effective method of data collection. The research demonstrates how discursive imperatives including (1) placing orgasm as central to demarcating problematic from unproblematic sex, (2) emphasizing sexual skill and working technique in pleasuring one’s partner, and (3) making open communication and reciprocity pivotal to successful relationships coalesce in accounts of orgasmic absence to produce different entitlements and obligations for men and women in heterosex.

locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles