Sex Gets Real with Dawn Serra podcast

299: Leonore Tjia on highly sensitive people, why mental health models are anti-erotic.

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tl;dr Leonore Tjia on highly sensitive people, relational work, and why modern mental health models are inherently anti-erotic.

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Finally, Patrons who support at $3 and above, this week you get to hear a private conversation Leonore and I had prior to recording for the podcast. We didn't intend for this to be heard, but it was so good I had to share! Hear it at

In my chat with Leonore, we explore what a highly sensitive person is and why Leonore has been holding workshops on sex for HSPs. We also talk about the difference between highly sensitive and high sensation seeking.

Leonore shares about how resentment builds with tolerating and performing emotional labor as a highly sensitive person. Plus, the impact to our libido and desire when we don't feel welcome as who we really are (because of a fear and experience of being too much).

Leonore talks about the erotic suffering we are living in and how modern medicine pathologizes valid experiences.

We explore what partners of HSPs need to know about supporting highly sensitive people, and what it means for Leonore to be shifting her professional work to a more relational capacity. What if we all had more places where people genuinely wanted to hear about our experiences, even if it was uncomfortable?

We discuss how worthiness ties to healthier and more connected relationships, boundaries and how we take responsibility for things that aren't ours which leads to codependence and pain. Plus, why knowing what is not yours takes a lot of practice and work on our worthiness and self-love.

Leonore names why eros can't move through us when we are in fight/flight/freeze/fawn, not to the extent that it's possible, so the process of finding our inner authority and transforming shame into courage creates a good container for eros to visit.

We both talk about why our work is dedicated to deeply shifting our ways of relating with ourselves, each other, and the world - because we need to change things, and it starts with our most intimate relationships.

Finally, we geek out on the harm and damage mainstream mental health causes when it operates from within the dominant paradigm. We discuss: the normativity of modern mental health models, how little sexuality training therapists receive, and its goal is to bring us into alignment with oppressive systems. Leonore sees much of modern mental health as inherently anti-erotic.

Be sure to send in your questions! I would love to hear from you. Use the contact form at

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About Leonore Tjia:

Leonore is a feminist sexuality educator who helps people create more presence, play, pleasure and power in the bedroom and beyond. As a trained practitioner of Internal Family Systems therapy, she assists people in recovering the parts of their sexual selves that have been exiled and repressed. Her workshops and teaching bring an ecological focus to sexual empowerment, helping people to reconnect to erotic vitality and step into sexual wildness. She is the founder of the Nordic Woman retreat, which combines wilderness skills and expressive arts in the Swedish backcountry.

Stay in touch with Leonore at and on Instagram.

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