Sexual Demons and Angels in Chinese Medicine

by Nils Volden LD


“A lot can be said – and a lot have been said about sexuality and Chinese medicine. Let us take an exploratory journey together through the various aspects that color our sexuality and intimate life. Let me provoke on some aspects and uncover aspects that might enlighten the topic. Of course, it is possible to discuss some of these aspects, but first: Let us Enjoy!”

Nils Volden

The human race survives thanks to our sexuality; 性感 xìnggǎn. If we do not make children or take good care of them the human race will die out. We enjoy having sex, and our genes have made it so for our survival. 进化 Jìnhuà, evolution, have made our congenital essence (the genes) evolve to become programmed to do great sacrifices in distinct topics as Xinggan (sexuality). Most important are aspect about finding a partner, get children and raise them. As we all know it is many ways to do this and often, we face complications.

Humans simply got diverse ways of handling situations like this depending on their personality and upbringing. When it starts to heat up, we use something called Fang wei or Defense techniques to help us out. Fang wei work autonomous to protect and preserve us. They simply exist and we rarely know of their existence and activation. Here I will look closer into Xinggan through the eyes of redirecting and sublimation to unclose some interesting aspects.


重定向 Chong ding xiang is simply a redirection of an impulse, a type of displacement. For example, if you are terribly upset with your boss, but you cannot be aggressive towards him, then you can be aggressive toward another person instead. This means that you simply start searching for a substitute person for your boss. In the end, instead of screaming at the boss, you simply scream at your husband. Of course, you first must produce some type of pretext to scream. For example, just remind him about some mistake he has done in the past, and then you scream (back) to him.

Related to sexuality we might think about a situation where a couple is watching a pornographic film on TV for so having steaming sex, redirecting their sexual emotions from TV to their partner. One of the indications of unfaithfulness is an increased libido. If the wife suddenly has an abnormal interest in sexual relations, it might be a sign of her being unfaithful. The increased sexual interest might have two roots: 1. Increased testosterone levels – increases the libido. 2. Using sexual interaction to distract her husband to believe that everything is okay. Increased libido tends to happen in women but not in men; men usually want no matter situation. Chong ding xiang (redirecting) is one common of the yang techniques, connected to the mental aspect of Hun. Hun is impulsive and direct. It does not exist any deeper thinking about should or should not; only a cheap impulsive “let’s do it!”


When an activity in Hun increases, we find that the Hun activity eventually reaches its tolerance, Duliang. When reaching Duliang the mind needs to produce a solution. The activity in Hun will mirror itself in Po and it will elevate activity in Hun. This is the impulses coming out from our congenital essence, Jing. The impulse is Yuan qi. If we go deeper, we will find Li. Li is the profound with deep roots planted in our ancestor’s prehistory. The expected reaction in Po will be as written in our Li; unchangeable.

When in danger, under pressure, or simply with a general elevated activity in Hun we find Po activating many aspects. Most common to mention are a changed circulation of psychic qi in our divergent meridians, changes in the skin, stagnations in the tendino muscular meridians (TMM), problems in activated areas and a development of disturbed circulation of qi in our Zang fu system. But the most important aspect is the activation of Fang weis, defense mechanisms. Fang wei haven’t gotten the proper attention in the clinic or in Chinese medicine academia, but that does not pull down its importance.


Let us go back to the example above, here we find the mind detonate without thinking longer than the explosion. By using redirecting we find the mental detonation being moved to somebody else; to something less dangerous. Instead of losing the job by screaming to the boss, the husband gets a tough time. Redirecting is one of the classical Hun mechanisms. You might say that Ching ding xiang (redirecting an impulse) is one of the main Fang weis of the Roun personality and in situations when the activity in Hun is increasing. Redirecting is one of the Fang wei techniques that we use almost uncritical in our daily life; ask anybody.


Another important Fang wei when searching for the devils and angels are 升华 Shang hua or sublimation. This defense technique is intimately connected to Chong ding xiang (redirecting/ displacement) and are possible the most important of the invisible defenses in daily life. Shang hua works like this: You take something emotionally and use the energy from the emotion on another more constructive activity. For example, instead of sitting depressed over a broken relationship, you start running marathon or – authoring a book about lost love. If you have stored aggression inside, you might consider starting with a heavy exercise like the Crossfit or MMA. When your wife does not want to have sex with you, instead of insisting her to the point of madness, you start watching a film on Discovery channel about Boats or start painting a wall.

Sheng hua is a way to get things out of the system. Sigmund Freud regarded sublimation to be one of the cornerstones of the civilized life. This because we must acknowledge that it is not possible to live without problems, and when they come, we should have a defense that do not create bigger, deeper, and longer problems. Sheng hua cuts the problem and Freud saw this as one of the best ways to survive as a civilized race.

Chinese psychology regards Sheng hua (sublimation) to be a normal Fang wei with yin quantities. Meaning that it is Nei (internal) and Yin (passive) in nature. The execution of the sublimation might not be yin, but the deeper aspects are highly yin in nature. Normally we activate Sheng hua in two ways: 1. Quick, when we are conscious about the situation. Shen activated makes it Yang in nature. 1. Slowly, when we wait for your unconscious to activate it. Po activated makes it Yin in nature.


Sublimation need be analyzed together with displacement. Displacement is in negative nature, but sublimation is positive. We tend to use Fu mian (negativity) as radar to explore and protect when we feel that our psychic qi is drained; Psychic qi xu. Then Fu mian tend to use displacement as one of its weapons. Even though we know that displacement only create problems on other arenas. Because this Fang wei is not actually a friendly technique; find a victim and project a punishment onto him for whatever you feel about something else. Emptying yourself on somebody innocent is not constructive. Sublimation is a more positive and constructive way to channel the negative energy. Here you find a technique that will drain your mind without directly hurting anybody else. Running off some steam in the gym does never hurt anybody.


Sublimation and displacement have a Yin-Yang relationship, where sublimation can be seen as the antagonist to displacement. Displacement is a classical Hun technique, and the antagonist to Hun is Po, which is intimately connected to sublimation. While Hun is more mentally connected, Po is often regarded as more physical, making sublimation a Yin technique and displacement a Yang technique. Po plans into the future, which is where sublimation comes in.

One of the guiding elements in sublimation is the desire to continue living in peace and harmony in the future. It is not constructive to scream at the boss, but venting frustrations on an innocent party is also harmful. Practitioners of displacement often vent their emotions and frustrations in stigmatizing ways, which can create negative labels such as “impolite,” “neurotic,” “frustrated,” “angry,” “impolite,” and “intolerable.”


Sheng hua (sublimation) is of a more delicate nature than Chong ding xiang (displacement). Nobody knows or has ever been bothered by a person blowing out some steam with a little exercise when there is no sex at home. This technique is directed forward and will not create problems after as displacement will do. Sublimation is both planned and calculated, making Sheng hua a typical Po technique.


Sigmund Freud, as we all know, was extremely interested in erotic energy, just as Chinese philosophy categorizes everything as Qi, and Taoist philosophy focuses on sexuality. Freud postulated that the reason for most problems in society was due to sublimated sexuality. He believed that erotic energy is not freely expressed in our society and that most people place constraints on this sexual energy. When sexual energy is not able to circulate or express itself, it will accumulate in the mind and create a mental imbalance. Chinese medicine refers to this as an accumulation of activity in Hun. Depending on the amount of accumulated activity in Hun, we may see a mirroring of Hun in Po.


Freud believed in the transformation of erotic energy (libido) into socially acceptable activities through sublimation. He theorized that a person would use similar sublimation techniques throughout their lifetime. Initially, sublimation may have a more sadistic nature, but over time, it would develop into a more beneficial and human nature. Chinese psychology has a similar viewpoint to Freud’s. The internal aspect, Nei, transforms from Yin to Yang as it moves externally, Wai. Qi is ever-present and continuously changes shape and place as it transforms over time. Sublimation is a way to transform something into a more socially acceptable behavior. A person does not change behavior out of choice, but because they must adapt. Sublimation is not something a person wants or searches for, but rather a way to survive tomorrow. If a person is filled with erotic energy, sublimation is a healthy way to transform their sexual impulses into something more acceptable. Instead of observing random women as sexual objects, they might choose to engage in physical activity. Sublimation can help reduce sexual urges.


A high frequency of sexuality or sexual energy is known to often transform into some kind of higher spiritual thinking. This form of sexual transformation is regarded as completely natural in the framework of Chinese psychology. Deep thinkers and philosophers tend to use their Fang wei Sheng hua to transform their sexual urges into higher thinking. Physical sexuality is connected to kidney Zang, and within Chinese psychology, we find sexuality related to the Teche personality, the deep thinker. A Teche personality is associated with kidney Zang, making sexual Sheng hua intimately related to kidney Zang and the Teche personality. The irony of sexual Sheng hua and the Teche personality is their creativity that is connected to their sexual activity. Sexual Sheng hua will convert sexual energy into creativity, and the frequency of sexual activity will adjust the level of creativity.


Sheng hua has two origins: First, we have the conscious Sheng hua that is taught to us as children by our parents and stored in Zhi. This sublimation is situational and directly guided by the habitat and culture where we live. To use it, we need to think consciously. The second type of sublimation is connected to a congenital origin that is stored in the congenital essence, our Jing, and managed by Po. The congenital Sheng hua is hidden from our consciousness and out of our control; it simply exists in our daily life as an instinct and not as a conscious act.

Sheng hua might be both unconscious and conscious at the same time according to Chinese psychology. Sigmund Freud believed that sublimation was a conscious act, but his student Carl Jung thought it was subconscious. Chinese psychology acknowledges both options; Yin and Yang but thinks that it also might be unconscious due to the connection to Jing. The most common view today is the subconscious sublimation as a response to shame and fear as postulated by Jung. Interestingly, we find the emotion of fear intimately related to the Zang organ kidney in Chinese medicine. Sublimation, fear, sexuality, and kidney Zang have close relations.


Literature teaches us that we have two central drives: sex and aggression. Aggression might be considered a Fang wei just as sex might be considered one. Normally, sexuality is an aspect that is suppressed as a way of acting freely. Central to sexuality are our actual sexual desires and the sublimation of our sexual desires. Remember that repression hides elements in the subconscious, while sublimation transforms this energy into something else. When transforming, the person will sense a type of satisfaction. This sensation tells us that we are behaving well and that we should repeat this behavior. When hiding or repressing sexual desires, we are creating a ticking sexual desire that may eventually explode. This is something we might associate with the celibate vow of priests. We might speculate that priests are sexually repressed and not sexually sublimated, which may be the reason for the sexual abuse conducted by some priests. It is important to remember that there will always be Yin in Yang and Yang in Yin; it is, and it is not at the same time.


Channeling or subliming sexual desires into something else are to both hide sexual desire (for yourself and others) and to get it out of the system at the same time. Most civilizations and societies are not compatible with a free flow of sexual desires, and people do not practice instant sexual satisfaction. It is not permitted by law to have sex at public places; nobody has sex at McDonalds. The urge for sex is connected to Zhi and thereby the Zang organ kidney. Love is connected to Shen and thereby the Zang organ heart. A lot can be written about love, but it is thought that love is related to cognition. We might question this since love makes blind! Our primitive sex drive is related to Zhi and Jing, our congenital essence.


Sex is (sadly enough) the only way to pass on genes; just as love between a man and a woman is present to ensure their bounding, motivate their effort, creates safety and their dedication to their offspring. Making love, sex drive and sex is genetically conditioned. The pleasure of having coitus and a close partner make our hormones dance and we feel good. What makes us feel good we tend to protect and repeat. The root to this is in the congenital essence and thereby our Li. Our kidney zang oversees the aspects, but love… Love needs to be divided into two parts, Yin/ yang. The Yin love are the physical love for another person, the chemical love. The chemical stimulation the sensation of another person indirectly gives us AND the interchange of chemicals in pheromones, sputum, sperm, and other liquid interchange. The Yang love is more the mental conscious emotion for another person; partly colored by chemical stimulation, but anyhow. Making us have two love energies flowing out of the congenital essence one Yin charged and unpredictable, and another Yang charged only predictable.

The Yin love might be seen as a sexual drive and thereby kidney zang and Zhi related. The Yang love might be seen associated with a conscious thinking and decision based, and thereby heart zang and Shen related. Both is genetically based and a result of some type of thinking. To help the understanding we might say that Love is Shen related and Sex drive Jing related. We also need to add that the touch of a loved one, a tactile stimulation, is associated with heart zang. Hugging and sexually touching each other stimulating the heart zang and Shen. Depending on the Duliang (tolerance) in heart zang and Shen we find the fourth yin yang law became activated. The tactile stimulation will move our psychic qi related to sexuality in Shen. First, we have the Yin related qi that just makes us more present and closer. If the tactile stimulation continues, we will observe that the increase of psychic Yin qi in Shen will transform into an excess of psychic Yang qi in Shen. This inter-transformation will change the person from mentally present and calm to sexually aroused and mentally in a sexually trance.

Sexy young couple

Our life’s or even stronger, our human race depends on the sexual attraction to pass on our genetics to future generations. Beauty is a way to signal “I am proper for you”. It is correct to say that genetically beauty has a purpose, but culturally not. A world depending on a genetic transmission will necessarily need to have a system of genetic signaling system. We find this system to be beauty. Beauty will cause both sexual attraction and the rice of civilizations. Having beauty is different from being sexually attractive or sexually available. The key to beauty is not being slim or thick; this is culturally conditioned aspects. Most important for us is symmetry. Research has found that women are not more attracted to handsome men than normal men. Women are attracted to his ability to protect and preserve her offspring. This ability is normally connected to his social status and material abilities. Men on the other side of the table are attracted to distinct physical features of the woman. Normally this is demographic defined, but in short, wide hips, flat stomach, and full breasts. In a way, women want men with nice car, clothes and excellent job, and men want a woman with nice figure. Having a nice personality, being intelligent and caring for others are secondary in this process. Do not forget that our Li is not programmed on an individual level. The key in Li is the survival of the race. You will search for parameters that go beyond your personal existence.


Beauty can be described as something that exists in an individual, is perceived by others, and interpreted as a signal of strong genetics, the individual’s congenital essence, Li. As we know, beauty is strongly correlated with both facial symmetry and symmetry in general. We observe beauty, feel attracted to it, and sexual attraction may start to develop as an interest in mixing genes. In many ways, beauty is the foundation of the creation of Sheng hua (sublimation).


The mechanism of falling in love can help us understand the connection between love and partner. There are two types of connections: Yang and Yin, with Yang being the emotional and Yin being the chemical connection. This mechanism is rooted in our congenital essence, our Li, and starts from Yin and rises to Yang. The process of sensing and searching for a partner is mostly unconscious. There are three steps in falling in love: Lust, Attraction, and Bonding. In the Lust phase, we analyze factors such as symmetry, social status, and body figure of people. If we find appealing factors, we automatically start to secrete testosterone and estrogen. Women search for four factors: high socioeconomic level, symmetry, alpha male, and a good person, while men search for five factors: physical factors like breasts, hips, and long hair, good heart, not abusive, strong character, and fidelity.

To conquer a woman, men try to impress them. To conquer a man, women try to look better than other women present. Men are considered Yang in nature and use Yang to catch Yin, while women are considered Yin in nature and use Yin to catch Yang. Women wait for the best man to pass, focusing on socioeconomic factors, while men focus on symmetry. When a woman’s Li says that a man will provide her future child with healthy genes, take care of her during pregnancy, and protect and provide for her and their future offspring, she moves to the next level of attraction. When a man’s Li says that a woman has good genes for his future offspring, he moves to the next level of attraction. Lust is intimately related to kidney zang, which is related to Li and the congenital essence. Despite its impulsive nature, there is almost no impulsivity in lust, as everything is deeply rooted in our genetics.


When we enter the second level, attraction, our brain stops thinking about anything else than the future partner; we go blind! Attraction stimulates three hormones to circulate in our veins: adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. Adrenaline makes the heart start pounding a little extra. Dopamine makes the person develop a powerful desire and get increased pleasure; makes them think this person is perfect. Serotonin makes the person only think about their partner. In a way, the person becomes totally drugged with love chemicals. In Chinese medicine, it is possible to call the attraction period the Yang Damp period. The person is active but only around the chosen one. Besides that, not much happens. When a person enters attraction, we find their mind to be permanently reprogrammed. The chemical marinade of the brain will create implications for later. This marks the change for the third level, Bounding.

Bounding is the third level and indicates that a couple feels ready to bring their relationship to another level. They start speaking about having children and might be considered a stable couple. Hormonally, we find a key indicator in the increased secretion of oxytocin and vasopressin (ADH). These two hormones are secreted in relation to coitus. Oxytocin is secreted in an increased amount during orgasm, creating a deep bond between the couple. Vasopressin is secreted in an increased amount after coitus, creating a sensation of protection and maintaining a stronger relationship with their partner. During the bounding period, we find communication becoming more important, and we also observe that gender differences increase. The chemical blindness from the attraction period gradually fades away and leaves the person capable of seeing who their partner is. The closeness and intimacy the bounding period offers are supposed to help the couple to stay together.


Our congenital essence has all of this planned out to the smallest detail. We just have to follow our lust. Then we stay fascinated, sensing that we cannot make a mistake in our couple. We wake up to a person that we feel strongly bound to, hearing children crying in the background. Nature wins! There is no specific organ involved in this process beside the kidney and its congenital essence, but we might state that distinct personalities will shine through in some parts of this process. Roun personality is most active in the lust period. He rushes through the three steps with the speed of light, only to discover that he did not bond. Chen personality goes blind in the attraction period and bonds only partially well, depending on his education. I personality has difficulty starting the lust period, but when he does, he is the most dedicated of them all, suffering under all the latest information that follows the establishment of a relationship. Pro personalities will not lose focus under the attraction period. You might observe that they have control and do not have the blackout that a Chen personality will have. Teche personalities decide to enter this system and do it with the greatest pleasure and enjoyment. All five personalities follow the same three steps, guided by the congenital essence.


The three steps to children” should be read in the context of actual sexual desire, and sexual thinking may be associated with Kidney Zang, specifically Kidney Yang. Zhi is the mental aspect of Kidney Zang and is typically considered Yang, making Zhi intimately related to Kidney Yang. We have two different modalities: first, the unconscious desire (animalistic libido) related to our Ben (roots) and our Jing, which could be in our Kidney essence. Second, conscious thinking about having children or enjoying planned physical intimacy is closely related to our Shen and Yi. Desire is Yin in relation to thinking, which is Yang. Unconscious desire is Yin Zhi related, and conscious sexual thinking is Yang Zhi related.


The classical sex analysis within Chinese medicine connects a kidney yin xu to an increased interest for sexual interaction, and a kidney yang xu to impotence. Here we reason that organ is Yin and mental are Yang. Making physical aspects like impotence Yin – and the Libido Yang connected. To understand the essence, we need to see the difference between activities connected to the conscious mind and sub-conscious mind in Shen. Normally, we say that the conscious mind is Yang, and the sub-conscious mind is Yin. Further on the conscious mind are intricately connected to the short time memory and Yi; the mental aspect of the spleen zang. The sub-conscious mind is close to Zhi and the long-term memory; the mental aspect of kidney zang. A problem related to the conscious mind is normally a Yi problem with a Yang nature, and the sub-conscious mind is a Zhi problem with a Yin nature. A pathogenic factor that is Yang charged it will afflict Yi, and the Yin charged will afflict Zhi. Giving us the understanding that sublimation is of a Yin Zhi nature and thinking of a Yang Yi nature. A Yin Zhi nature implies that the vulnerable aspect is Yin. Changes in Yin will create disturbances that complicate the activities in our Zhi. Making elements that enhances Yin factors in Zhi might afflict our animalistic libido or the inborn sexual desire. Examples of Yin factors that would afflict the sexual part of Zhi is tiredness (Yin state: Qi xu), Diarrhea (Yin state: Tai yin syndrome: Yin shi) and Frequent urination (Yin state: Kidney yang xu: Yang xu).

A decreased interest in sexual relations and decreased libido are related to Jing xu and Zhi qi xu states. A decrease in Jing or a developing Yin state in Zhi will create a state of nonexistence libido in the mind. The person feels no interest in copulation, no attraction, and has no sexual arousal whatever, even if presented a good opportunity. On the other side, we have the conscious thinking about having children, ovulation-planning or simply a wish to enjoy the pleasures of sexual stimulation with another person. This is related to Shen and Yang Yi. A Yang Yi nature implies that the vulnerable aspect is Yang. Changes in Yang will create disturbances that complicate the activities in our Yi. Elements that enhance Yang factors in Yi will potentially afflict conscious sexuality; our planning of having children or planning to enjoy sexual stimulation. Examples of Yang factors that would afflict the sexual part of Yi are over-thinking (Yang state), problems in daily life and Stress (Yang state: elevated activity in Hun: Yang shi). The main indicator for a lack of conscious sexual planning related to Yi are simply not finding any reason for sexual interaction; the person simply does not feel for it.


Sexual sublimation or Sheng hua can be a solution in difficult moments or situations in a person’s life. However, it’s important to note that suppression or repression doesn’t eliminate sexual desire or urges. You can never truly be free of what you suppress. Furthermore, normal hormonal changes can still affect sexual desires. The lust may persist in the unconscious, causing sub-conscious outbursts of sexually related elements such as wet dreams, frustration, and sexual confusion. As lust turns to attraction, a couple begins to form deeper bonds. However, along this process guided by the congenital essence, there may be minor issues. Sublimation and repression can be used to avoid problems with our partner.


When something is repressed, it tends to return much stronger than when it was first suppressed. If you hold back your Yang energy, you may find that it grows stronger until you finally unleash it, resulting in an even stronger Yang force. Sublimation, on the other hand, involves the instant transformation of sexual energy into another form of energy. We should regard sublimation as an intelligent way of mastering difficult sexual energies. In many regards, sexual transformation from a Yin state to a Yang state, from material to spiritual, would never occur without a properly functioning Shen. If a person suffers from a deficiency in Shen qi, healthy sublimation might turn into potentially harmful repression.


Our congenital essence, deeply rooted in Li and stored by our Kidney zang, ensures the continuation of our human race through our sexuality; 性感 xìnggǎn. We need children to continue here on earth. Nature has programmed our congenital essence through pleasure-related features and hormonal addictions to copulate and responsibly raise our offspring. 进化 Jìnhuà, or evolution, has slowly changed and refined our congenital essence (the genes) to become what we find today. Everything from lust to attraction and bounding is out of our control. Xinggan (sexuality) might be the key, but the maker of the key in Jinhua and the keeper of the key are the congenital essence. Life might be complicated from time to time, and Li has given us Fang wei, or defense techniques, to guide us. In Xinggan, we have two main Fang weis: Chong ding xiang (redirecting) and Sheng hua (sublimation).



We cannot discuss Chinese sexuality without acknowledging the tradition of foot binding. This tradition originated in China during the 800-900 A.D. era and was associated with four factors: marriage, sex, beauty, and duty. Women during this period were expected to remain at home and attend to their husband, family, and child-rearing duties. Male offspring were favored over female offspring, as is still the case today. Wealthy men were allowed to practice polygamy. Legend has it that a Song Dynasty emperor was captivated by his concubines’ unusually small feet, and many believe that this event marked the beginning of the foot binding tradition. The practice spread from the emperor and nobility to landowners, officials, and to the general population. The ideal foot size was three inches long, referred to as the “golden lily.”


Girls were expected to start binding their feet at the age of five to achieve the perfect shape, and the initiation of foot binding was typically a major social event for the family. The process of foot binding took approximately two years to complete, but the binding was a lifelong practice. Feet were seen as a female erogenous zone, and when fathers searched for wives for their sons, they looked at the women’s feet. Some even believed that foot binding resulted in a tighter vagina, also known as the “Jade Gate.” As a result, women began to hide their bound feet, and gradually foot binding became a secret practice, with only prostitutes showing their feet to others.


Over time, competitions emerged in which women publicly displayed their bound feet, like modern-day breast implants and breast competitions that have moved from private to public spheres. Many sexually perverse traditions arose from foot binding, and even shoes became objects of worship. By the 1800s, around 50% of women had bound feet, while the figure was 100% among the upper classes. Women who did not have bound feet began wearing high heels to create the impression of having bound feet. The practice of foot binding became illegal when the Communists came to power in 1949.


The author of this article offers seminars on Chinese medicine and Chinese psychology worldwide. For more information on how to participate in these seminars, please visit the linked page.

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