Terence Blacker: Polanski's one-night-stand therapy

Sometimes, quality time with a young actress was not enough. Simple solution: two actresses
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The Independent Online

Several of our more worldly correspondents - people, I suspect, who have had their share of scruffy, ships-that-pass-in-the-night adventures - have suggested that Polanski's therapy is rather different from the type invented during the 1970s.

Of course, they are right. Until that moment, sex had been a relatively straightforward business: you either had it or, more probably, you didn't. Then, quite suddenly, people started fretting about the quality of the experience. Books on performance became bestsellers. Several entirely new types of orgasms were invented. A woman called Whipple announced that she found something called a G-spot, an internal pleasure trigger so powerful that, if you found it, you would have to peel your girlfriend off the bedroom ceiling.

With complexity and expectation came performance anxiety: too long, too short, too often, not nearly often enough, a little bit to the left - no, not that far. Enter, wearing a concerned expression, the sex therapist. We needed to work at this, apparently. A small support industry came into existence, with erotic aerobic centres, frottage fitness programmes and community orgasm workshops.

But the therapeutic process described by Polanski this week seems decidedly different. Over to our FAQ hotline.

The concept of sex therapy has played an important part in the Polanski/'Vanity Fair' case. Are we to understand from the fact that Roman needs therapy that he's not very good at it?

Not unless you want to be involved in another libel case. Unlike the old-fashioned sex therapy, here it is simply the sex itself which provides the therapy. To quote from Polanski's evidence: "Some people turn to drugs or to alcohol. Some go to a monastery. To me, it was sex."

Does this form of therapy represent a change of attitude among sexologists towards promiscuity?

The way Polanski describes it, one-night stands were a form of healing. He said it provided proof of his continued existence. The bedrock of the new therapy is this idea of self-healing through seduction. I pull, therefore I am.

How exactly does the therapy work?

It is relatively straightforward. You go to a party or to a fashionable bar where lots of girls who would like to be film stars hang out. You take one home. The next morning, you awake, having provided proof of your continued existence. Of course, it might be slightly trickier if you are not a high-profile film director.

Are there further stages to this therapy?

Yes. Sometimes spending quality time with a young actress did not provide enough therapy for Roman. His solution was simple: two actresses. Like many therapeutic processes, the dosage needs to be increased now and then.

I'm sorry, but surely we've moved on from this kind of approach to men and women. What about relationships, common interests, a shared sense of humour? It's all a bit sad and Sixties, isn't it?

It is true that a therapy which involves getting it as often as possible will not suit everyone. On the other hand, many who recoil in horror may do so out of envy, guilt or regret for past mistakes.

Nor is it particularly new. In the early 1960s, President Kennedy was said to have told Harold Macmillan that he needed at least one woman every day to avoid getting a headache. Supermac's reply is not recorded.

In a spirit of fairness, it should be pointed out that Roman has moved on post-therapy, and barring the odd court case and extradition hangup, seems as unscarred as others who once vigorously provided proof of their continued existence - Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Peter Stringfellow.

Does the new sex therapy work for women?

Experts have yet to reach a conclusion on that question.

Miles Kington is away