The Development of Desire

Willow PearsonArticle, Cognitive, Journal of Integral Theory & Practice, Love & Intimacy, Psychosexual, Sexuality 1 Comment

In this article Willow Pearson proposes that desire, as all lines of development, evolves toward greater complexity and is an all-quadrant phenomenon. For this reason, she situates desire and sex (from preconventional to conventional to postconventional and beyond) within an Integral framework. Integral Theory offers a unique view of desire and a possibility to understand all levels of desire as embodied wisdom, however partial each view might be.


“Sex. In America an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact.”Marlene Dietrich

Sexual desire is a natural and necessary condition of every human animal. How we relate to desire, and what we do with it, has the power to break individuals and communities apart, as well as bring us together. Sexual desire typically gets either a good rap or a bad one. It is commonly seen as either the root of all evil or the root of all salvation. Rarely do we consider the complex nature of sexual desire and how we act upon it.

An Integral approach is not satisfied with desire’s dualistic street press. It goes beyond a discourse of good and evil by looking into sexual desire as a path of development. An Integral view accepts that sexual desire is indigenous to the human body, psyche, and spirit. Prior to interpretation and judgment, Integral tacitly recognizes what simply exists. Integral Theory takes a developmental perspective in order to illuminate the path of sexual desire, as well as to discriminate the important differences among the many perspectives on desire. Here, we will begin to explore that path.

Willow Pearson

About Willow Pearson

Dr. Pearson is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a nationally board-certified music therapist (MT-BC). In summer 2020, Dr. Pearson joined the core faculty in the Clinical Psychology Department at CIIS. Previously, she has taught doctoral students at Alliant International University in San Francisco, undergraduate and graduate students at Naropa University, and graduate students at John F. Kennedy University and Notre Dame de Namur University. Her website is