A therapeutic technique coming to the forefront of psychological practice is that of "sexual role playing." The therapy is designed to assist those in relationships laden with conflict or even simply misunderstandings regarding the couple's sex life.
Role playing itself has been a psychological technique since the turn of the 20th century. Participants are typically called upon to act a role, be it their partner or some envisioned concept of who they think they are. Such self-discovery through acting, it is thought, expands sensitivity to another's point of view. Sexual role playing, as the name would suggest, takes role playing (in which everyone participates often via so-called "symbolic arenas" such as paintball or online video gaming.
Dr. Robert Stoller (1926-1992), M.D., was the popularizer of the sexual role playing technique, following up on certain concepts developed by the likes of Heinz Kohut, Otto Kernberg, Ethel Persons and, naturally, good old Sigmund Freud himself. Stoller, Professor of Psychiatry at the Medical School of the University of California at Los Angeles, devoted his professional career as a psychoanalytic researcher, theorist and clinical practitioner to addressing matters of aberrant behavior, especially those with origins in childhood trauma. His internationally known work has been called "courageous," "daring" and "evocative." Of his pioneering role, there is no doubt whatsoever: Stoller even pioneered another key element in modern psychology, eventually becoming a Psychoanalytic Research Society charter member.
Stoller's work on use of sexual fantasy and sexual role playing began at the beginning of his career in the 1940s and was immediately called a success by certain members of academia at-large. In 1968, the book entitled "Sex and Gender: On the Development of Masculinity and Feminity" was an accumulation on his theories regarding aberrant behavior, identity issues and personality definition. Posthumously published in 1993 were two other collections of work printed in various research publications were "Pain and Passion: An Ethnography of Consensual Sado-Masochism" and "Porn: Myths for the Twenty-First Century."
The more universal acceptance of the layman to sexual role playing took a step backward in the 1990s, however, as rejection of the technique became commonplace in a decade devoted to obsessive reordering of gender roles. BDSM and such play became accepted rather than analyzed, and Stoller's trauma hypothesis was labelled primitive and unfair. Stoller's theory that sadomasochistic games and indeed all adult erotic behavior is a unit comprising early childhood trauma was often rejected.
The interestingly dubbed "lovemaps" hypothesis first explored by Johns Hopkins University's John Money was further expanded by Stoller. Lovemaps represent the ideas of ultimate sexual partner and ideals of sexual relationship formulated at the origins of personal consciousness; such paths and topography created result in private sexual role playing upon sexual maturity.