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We all know that sex heals all physical wounds. But in fiction- most often in Hurt Comfort Fic- sex also heals emotional wounds. Even PTSD, addiction, or depression over terminal illness fade instantly after our hero is in the loving embrace of their love interest. In Fanfic parlance, this is often called the 'healing cock' and mocked, as it is often Narm.
Note that Tropes Are Not Bad. Sex can be a great mood-elevator and, to some degree, help with certain hang-ups or insecurities. The key issue is overstating this effect. For instance, someone with a case of Dissociative Identity Disorder (a.k.a. multiple personalities) won't suddenly "get better" after some great sex. After all, if sex completely and instantly cured all emotional wounds, there would be no therapists.
See also "Glad to Be Alive" Sex, stress-relief through sex in the aftermath of life-threatening experiences.
Do Not Try This At Home. Having someone attempt to get over mental or emotional hang-ups by having sex is rarely if ever a good idea, and very illegal if you are counseling them in a professional setting. In the context of a healthy relationship, though, good, consensual sex can help to lower barriers preventing the addressing of psychological issues, particularly ones relating to stress disorders.
Anime and Manga
- Legend of the Blue Wolves has a double example, as this "helps" Jonathan to get over being falsely accused of theft, then beaten and raped by the culprit while also helping Leonard to deal with the tragic death of his younger brother, several years ago (his feelings for Jonathan are partially driven by a Big Brother Complex, as the guy looks a LOT like an older version of said brother).
- In Berserk, while Guts and Casca are making love - Guts begins to have flashbacks of his dark and horrific childhood ordeal of being betrayed by his adoptive father and raped by a pedophile soldier When this happens, years of repressed post traumatic stress is released as Guts has an emotional breakdown in front of Casca. Afterwards, he tries to go away and deal with his issues on his own, thinking himself a freak and soiled, but Casca gives Guts a Cooldown Hug, and says that now that they've revealed their crappy childhoods to each other, that they were truly equal to each other, as friends and as lovers.
- Subverted in Haou Airen. Kurumi has sex with her Bastard Boyfriend's Dragon Fuuron after a really hard time (including a scene in which she tells him about said problems, and despite him being a snarky bastard, he does let her pour her heart out before sexing her up), but she doesn't exactly feel better afterwards. In fact, when Kurumi finds out a terrible truth near immediately afterwards, she feels worse!
- Kusatta Kyoushi no Houteishiki uses this trope for the Beta Couple: Masayoshi's brother Masami and his boyfriend Tooru. Masami reveals his Rape as Backstory to Tooru, explaining that's why he wasn't comfortable with intimacy and saying that he's Defiled Forever. Tooru refuses to leave Masami alone to his suffer and gives him an Anguished Declaration of Love to reassure him. And then, they finally get to third base.
- Trigun has Milly giving a Cooldown Hug to a sobbing Wolfwood after he kills a certain enemy and is extremely disturbed over it. The next scene featuring them has her sleeping in a nearby bed (but covered to her ears with the quilts) while he smokes by the window, implying that this happened. The fact that Milly is seen in her pijamas as she and Meryl cry after learning of Wolfwood's death all but confirms that they DID have sex.
- Dolphin did this to Aquaman after he became embittered after losing his hand to the terrorist Charybdis.
- Fanfiction in general simply adores this trope, especially slash fiction.
- The Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic "Some scars are easy to hide" features Lithuania and Poland having sex to help Lithuania get over his depression and anxiety resulting from having been sexually abused by Russia. Notable for giving rise to the meme "I'm damaged goods, Feliks!"
- Another Hetalia fic, "Mistakes", has China attempting to do this with a random hooker, and then later with France, in an attempt to heal himself. It does not work.
- Subverted in the fic "Cages". A recently colonized Taiwan has sex with Imperial Japan after having been raped by China in the prequel Dollhouse, and then rescued by Japan once he takes her in -- but it doesn't fix her problems either. She does somewhat heal under his care ( and helps an also colonized!Korea to emotionally heal from Japan's harsh treatment), but it's not thanks to the sex and she still must go through a painful and harsh healing process. (Plus she and Korea do not have sex as they bond and heal together; they never go further than kisses)
- A Growing Affection: Kakashi seeks sex from his lover as a distraction from a recent trauma. After a later event, Hinata does the same for Naruto.
- A Lost Forever Digimon fic has the grown up Koushirou and Jyou as a couple. Jyou is driven to an Heroic BSOD at some point after failing to save the lives of a young boy and his parents, and he discusses the incident with Koushirou who then helps him relax and forget about it via sex.
- James applies this to Jessie several times in Cori Falls's Pokémon fanfiction.
- A lot of Sailor Mac's Sailor Moon fics back in the old days loved this trope. A good sexing from Darien could cure all of Serena's woes, from a bad grade to a fight with her mother to the Alpha Bitch spreading rumors about her and her friends to dry winter skin.
- A common plot in many a Voltron: Legendary Defender Hurt Comfort Fic, especially with Keith and Shiro. Though these run the gamut from playing the trope 100% straight to variants where it's more for temporary comfort or a distraction and the fic admits it'll take more than that to work through the problem.
- The ancient X-Files fic The Baccarat Figurines starts off Mulder and Skinner's relationship this way.
- Horrendously subverted in the movie The Legend Of Hell House. The young psychic Florence thinks that by offering herself to the ghost of a tormented young man, he might know peace and move on. This does not turn out to be a romantic and cathartic experience like that one scene in Ghost: poor Florence gets violated by the vindictive apparition, which was never a young troubled man but the ghost of the house's murderous old owner.
- Attack Girls Swim Team vs. The Undead
- In the movie Baby Boy, the main character loses his temper and slaps his girlfriend, and then she starts breaking down and crying uncontrollably. So he picks her up, carries her to the bedroom and gives her oral sex while sad music plays. She forgives him and it's never mentioned again.
- Very much subverted in Antichrist. The main character's husband thinks it's a good idea to treat her depression himself. She uses sex as a method of dulling the pain. It ends badly.
- Subverted in Horrible Bosses--Kurt's attempt to "fuck the crazy out of" Julia has only temporary effects.
- Pictured above: Phoebus and Esmeralda from Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The censors ignored it, probably because the film itself is notoriously Darker and Edgier by Disney standards.
- Marian helps Robin Hood through his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from The Crusades by sleeping with him in the novel Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson.
- A somewhat more literal example appears in Broken Angels, the second in Richard Morgan's hard sci-fi series. The protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, tracks down Tanya Wardani, the only archaeologist with the knowledge required for his mission - unfortunately, she's been tortured far enough that she's withdrawn from reality. It's stated that normally, she would takes months, maybe years to recover from this - however, Takeshi doesn't have that long. So, he uses some of his Envoy mental conditioning techniques to bring her back. It's described this way in the novel:
Envoy co-option techniques make rather brutal use of the deep wells of psychosexual energy that drive humans at a genetic level. Properly mined, the matrix of animal strength on tap in those places will speed up psychic healing by whole orders of magnitude. You start with light hypnosis, move into quick-fix personality engagement and thence to close bodily contact that only misses definition as sexual foreplay on a technicality. A gentle, hypnotically induced orgasm usually secures the bonding process, but at the final stage with Wardani, something had made me pull back. The whole process was uncomfortably close to a sexual assault as it was.
- Subverted in the Star Trek The Next Generation novel Imzadi. Deanna Troi, shortly after meeting Riker for the first time on Betazed, suggests that they take off their clothes and spoon, saying that it's a technique she learned in her psychotherapy classes for moving past the desires of the flesh. And they do precisely that--lie there naked and talk without doing anything sexual. Later, Deanna's professor says he's never heard of any such technique (except in treating sexual dysfunctions, natch) and that it would probably lead to sex.
- For Whom the Bell Tolls is an early and successful example. Maria wants Robert to make love to her to replace her rape memories.
- In the A.J.Quinell's book Snap Shot, The sex between on of the protagonists (a war photographer) and a psychologist (another protagonist) who showed compassion towards him, help him to finally get ride of a trauma he got in one of his missions.
- In The Stolen Throne, the first prequel book to the Dragon Age video game, Rowan comforts her future husband Maric shortly after he executed his former lover, Katriel, for being a spy. After hours of sobbing and holding each other, it's strongly implied that they make love for the first time. Notably, it doesn't resolve Maric's guilt over Katriel's death, which he feels even years later. It just helps him cope.
- The relationship between Cassandra Kresnov and her unit shrink (in her back story) consisted of a literal version of the trope.
Live Action TV
- Dexter: Dexter's relationship with Leila in season two apparently puts him on the road to recovering from his addiction to murder. Or not.
- Call Me Fitz: After burying Babs, guess how does Fitzy comfort Ali.
- Earlier in the episode, Fitz gets this from Meghan.
- Chris Ryans Strike Back. The protagonist has sex with a pretty female army sergeant, but then gets taken down a peg when the female intelligence agent says she's a professional Honey Trap who had sex with him because the shrink said he was suffering from sexual inadequacy issues. "In short, you needed a shag."
- Played with in Jack's route in Mass Effect 2. The sequence that makes her somewhat less psychotic is clearly "intimate," but doesn't involve sex. Earlier in the game, it's possible to have sex with her, but this confirms her belief that people only care about her sexually, and results in a bad end to the romance.
- Subverted in CROSS†CHANNEL. Misato decided that having sex with Taichi would be the best way to atone for her sin of sending her father to jail. Of course, she's also implied to be self-defeating, and the sex arguably made the whole situation worse. At least it helped in sending her back to the original world.
- Tomohiro helps his friends this way in LEAV Es.
- Hisao from Katawa Shoujo can attempt this twice during Rin Tezuka's route. The first time takes place when he has sex with her in an attempt to pull her away out of her self-destructive tendences, but it doesn't necessarily work and the player can still potentially get the bad endings; the potential second one works much better since it comes after she runs away from her art exposition and gets chewed out by her Stage Mom-like art teacher; by that point, the player has already taken the choices leading to Rin's Good Ending.