Episode 13: What Women Want Part 2 with Dr. Herb Goldberg
"What Women Want" Part 2 with Dr. Herb Goldberg
Announcer: This program is intended for mature audiences only.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Hi, and welcome back. You are listening to “On the Minds of Men”, and this is your Host, Dr. Lori Buckley. You are listening to Part 2 of a 2-part interview with Dr. Herb Goldberg. Last week we were talking about men in relationships, and women, and all the things that we really do not know about ourselves, and how we are probably screwing up our relationships.
This week we are going to be talking more about sex. We are going to be talking about things, such as, “do women even like sex?” So, I hope you enjoy this episode. And, thank you, again, for listening.
Herb Goldberg: I had a girl, who came to see me, who was having an affair with a married man. She told me what a wonderful sex life they had. After about 4 or 5 months in therapy, she asked me if I would see this man that she was dating, the married man. He wanted to come in. He was trying to figure out whether to leave his marriage. I met him. Subsequent to that, I found out that through out their sex life, in the first 4 to 5 months, he had been totally impotent. In my first book for men, “The Hazards of Being Male”, I had a chapter called “The Wisdom of the Penis”.
Dr. Lori Buckley: [laughter] I love that title.
Herb Goldberg: In the “Inner Male” I had a chapter called “Thank God for Impotence, It’s the Only Thing You Can’t Control”. A good slogan for Men’s Liberation, one of them, when it comes to sex, would be “Your Penis is Years Ahead of Your Brain”. The basic idea is that your body knows what you really feel.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah
Herb Goldberg: Long before your head does. It would not scare me. If a woman came up, whom I just met at a party or something, and said, “Boy I was really getting hot looking at you and I would love to know what it is like making love to you”, I would be delighted.
Dr. Lori Buckley: [laughter] So, you would be “OK lets go” I am going to ask you one more question Herb and that has to do with sex. [laughter] Your answer may not have to do with sex, but I am going to ask it and we will see what you say. I am interested to hear and here is the question… “What is the one thing that men can do to improve their sex life”?
[music fades out]
Dr. Lori Buckley: You are listening to “On the Minds of Men”. We were just talking to Dr. Goldberg about the ways that men disconnect and how that affects our relationships. I want to talk about that. How does that affect our personal relationships and our sex life? I think they are, obviously, very much connected.
Herb Goldberg: You mean between men and women?
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah
Herb Goldberg: Well, I think, it makes a mutually satisfying sex life, between men and women, very, very problematic. In my book, “The New Male-Female Relationship”, I have a chapter called “Sex at Cross Purposes” where I show that the externalized male and the internalized female, when they are making love, are really in two different worlds. Men are very externalized in their lovemaking. They tend to be mechanical. They tend to be excitement oriented. They tend to cut off on an emotional level. They like exotic sex. They are goal oriented, meaning the goal is the erection and the orgasm. Women are more internalized. So, sex is more about intimacy, closeness and communication.
I once had an extraordinary experience in therapy. I had a woman who came to see me who was having an affair with a married man. She told me what a wonderful sex life they had. After about 4 or 5 months in therapy, she asked me if I would see this man that she was dating, the married man. He wanted to come in. He was trying to figure out whether to leave his marriage. I met him. Subsequent to that, I found out that through out their sex life, in the first 4 to 5 months, he had been totally impotent.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Wow.
Herb Goldberg: He wasn’t able to get a hard on. That didn’t change anything for her. She loved her sex with him. Because, the intimacy was there and the intensity was there. So it was extraordinary, to me, that she had never mentioned it. It was a non-issue for her.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Which is so interesting. He probably was a great lover. I say this a lot, and people make fun of me, but I say, “Having a hard penis or a big penis, certainly, but even a hard penis isn’t necessary to having a great sex life”.
Herb Goldberg: Well, absolutely. I think that men are very focused. And a lot of men believe that if they don’t get an erection, or they don’t maintain an erection, the woman is going to go off with somebody else.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Right.
Herb Goldberg: Because she wants to get laid. If she does go off with somebody else, it is not going to be because he did not have an erection. It is because of the way he handled it. If he is all uptight about it, and he is ashamed of it or if he is defensive about it or he is
Dr. Lori Buckley: Blaming.
Herb Goldberg: obsessed with it
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah
Herb Goldberg: and the whole thing becomes about him getting an erection, the woman may get fed up with it.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah
Herb Goldberg: She may get fed up with the whining and the defensiveness. But, it is not because he did not have the erection. Most men, who are reasonably healthy, can eventually get an erection. And can eventually achieve whatever they need to achieve. Especially if they are willing to be, authentic and honest with what they are really all about. Most men don’t understand that.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Right. And the problem comes because they become so anxious and upset about the fact that they are not able to get an erection. Which is, often times, for a really good reason. Like, he is angry with his partner, or he is stressed out at work, or some terrible loss. Something is going on in his life and he is not able to get an erection, for one reason or another. He starts to focus on that and then the anxiety destroys any ability.
Herb Goldberg: It makes it worse.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Right. So then, he starts focusing on that, obsessing, getting defensive and all of those things.
Herb Goldberg: Well not only that…Again I am not pushing my books. Most of them are out of print…in my first book for men, “The Hazards of Being Male”; I had a chapter called “The Wisdom of the Penis”.
Dr. Lori Buckley: [laughter] I love that title.
Herb Goldberg: In the “Inner Male” I had a chapter called “Thank God for Impotence, It’s the Only Thing You Can’t Control”. And, both of those chapters are about the necessity for men to start embracing their sexual issues and not have an antagonistic relationship with their own penis. But, to rather, see their sexual responses as an expression of whom they really are and what they are feeling. And to learn from what their penis is saying.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Right.
Herb Goldberg: I used to, when I was considered a, so called, “leader” of the men’s movement, which I was never terribly comfortable with because I always just saw myself as a psychologist who was doing psychological work. For a while, there I was embraced by a lot of male activists. I once, jokingly, said, “Feminists had their slogans, a good slogan for Mens Liberation, one of them, when it comes to sex, would be “Your Penis is Years Ahead of Your Brain”. The basic idea is that your body knows what you really feel.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah
Herb Golberg: Long before your head does and you better listen.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah. It is true. Actually, I say this to a lot of men when they come in and they talk to me and they come to me for some sort of erectile difficulty, and come to find out there is really no physiological thing going on. There is something going on in the relationship or some other kind of anxiety. And I let them know “You know your penis is fine.” [laughter] Let’s work on your mind here a little bit. But that is what happens a lot. We always get into the sex aspect. But that’s what you men really want to hear. We know. So, we are going to talk about that. We know that relationships…We talk about relationships, the romance, and the connection. I believe you talk about fusion and disconnection, I think the ideal in a relationship is connection. Is that the way you would describe it?
Herb Goldberg: Yeah. It is, kind of, a healthy attachment. A healthy connection where two people have a high level of self awareness, who are not blamers, take responsibility, don’t need to overly romanticize the opposite sex in order to be with. You don’t have to put your partner on some kind of pedestal. You don’t have to think that they are one of a kind…Where your expectations are still rooted in the real world.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah. I think that happens…well I guess you could live your whole life and never have that not happen, I imagine. Go from some high in a relationship to “OH, I hate men” or “I hate women”, and go from “They are wonderful”, “They are the best”, “They are the worst”, “and they are horrible”…I think there are a lot of people who live that way.
Herb Goldberg: Yeah. Actually, as a psychologist, you know that is just a form of splitting. Which you see a lot in people who are borderline. And a lot of relationships, between men and women, have borderline features.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah.
Herb Goldberg: You know….I love you, I hate you, you’re a piece of crap, I never want to see you again, I want to screw you all night, don’t ever touch me, I can’t stand you even being near me
Dr. Lori Buckley: Right.
Herb Goldberg: It bounces off of these crazy walls.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Those are red flags. Who can really live like that? Now, we all have some level, of course, when we feel especially close, or there are times when we are angry with our partner. That is certainly with in the realms of a healthy relationship. But, when things are…and you wrote in your book, I believe, something, it was a great line, “If it feels”…what was the way you said it? Something, like, “If it feels horrible or it feels…something…then you know there’s problems”. I can’t remember the word that you used. I should have written it down, because it was brilliant. Well you’re going to have to read the book. [laughter]
So, we are talking about so many things and I know that you have talked about this, in a way. But I want to get real specific here, so our listeners can say, “OK, I am going to start working on this”. The question is….”What do men really need to do to grow and emerge?” And I am talking as men, as individuals but also within their relationship.
Herb Goldberg: I think that, more then anything else, men have to recognize their issues. They have to first recognize, not what they intend, but how they are experienced. That will be a big shock. Most men can get a glimmer of how they are experienced by focusing on their own feelings towards a lot of men that they know. And a lot of men, when they think about their feelings toward other men, when they have a close personal relationship, they often feel like “the guys a jerk”, “the guys impossible”, “the guys got an ego that wont quit”, “the guys boring” or whatever it is. Well, guess what, that’s probably how you are being experienced as well. Because that is what externalization does to men. It makes them boring on a personal level. Men are at their best when they are talking about activities or meeting some kind of a problem, but not when they are actually connecting on a personal level.
So, the first thing men need to do is to recognize the degree of their dysfunction when it comes to personal connection. Then, they need to be more open and start listening to their children, to their wives, to whoever they feel as though they can trust as to how they are being, actually, experienced. Now that doesn’t mean that what they are going to hear is going to be the accurate truth because it is coming from the prism, or the eyeglasses, of the person that they are talking to.
Dr. Lori Buckley: But it is that person’s truth, who is talking about the experience.
Herb Goldberg: Exactly. Then after that, they need to start doing the work. And doing the work means that they need to start honoring and learning to interpret their feelings and their personal responses. And they need to work on developing their personal selves. Humanizing themselves in many ways in recognizing the mechanical nature of a lot of the ways in which they connect to the world.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Phew, that’s a lot.
Herb Goldberg: It is a lot. You know, you only live once. Do you want to die a machine, or do you want the adventure of living? Do you want the adventure of learning to become a less defensive, more fluid human being who is connected and in touch with all the dimensions of their capacity for responding to the world? Rather than, responding as some kind of gender cliché, where you are “Mr. Macho” or “Ms. Sexy Feminine” and so much of your experience is distorted and rigid.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah. And, the truth is, because I see men like this all the time, the doers, the ones that are doing and define themselves in this way…What you would call disconnected….they are not happy. They are really not happy, even miserable.
Herb Goldberg: How can they be happy? They are locked into all of these paradoxes, where they think they are doing…kind of reminds me of Alfred Adler’s “Theoretical Framework of Fictional Finalism“, which is, early in life we develop these fictions that is we do this and this and this, we are going to experience love and appreciation and life is going to be good. Well men have a lot of fictional finalisms that they feel early on. “If I am successful“, “If I am strong”, “If I am independent”, “If I am competitive”, and “If I am a caretaker” then I am going to be loved. My children are going to love me. My wife will love me. Life will be good. I am going to have all these friends. People will appreciate me. Well, they do all of those things and they find that the end product is the exact opposite. Then they go into despair. Their lost.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Your right. Their intention is good. They really, I think, want, like you said, they want to be connected. They want to be loved. They want to be appreciated. We hear that a lot too. They are doing all of the things they think they are supposed to be doing. The things they were taught to do and are still being taught to do from all of the societal messages and all of the things that every one else is doing around them. And, it’s not working, and it’s really tragic.
So, I am so glad that you are here to set our men straight. Men this is some, not easy, work. We have to get that out there. But it is so worthwhile. Even with sex…I talk about this a lot… Men, they do want to feel connected, and one way that they do strive for that is sex. I think what you might say about that…and tell me how you feel about this… is, yeah, they might go to sex to feel connection, but they can’t really experience “true” connection, even with sex, when they are having it in a mechanical way, when they are concentrating on their performance.
Herb Goldberg: Right. And if their not able to really have sex in a personal connected way, then the sex is going to get old, its going to get boring, its going to become mechanical and the woman is probably not going to tell him, particularly if it is in a marriage. She may try to say something here or there. She will just sit on her feelings. In sitting on her feelings, she is going to shut down and he is not going to get any energy from her. Then he is going to start, probably, blaming himself. Maybe he will take Viagra or some kind of herbal supplement, or some kind of aphrodisiac food, thinking that he has a physiological problem, that there is something wrong with his biochemistry or his penis. When, in fact, the thing that is wrong is with him as a person.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Right. His penis is fine. Maybe we should write a book….OH that’s a good book; maybe we will coauthor it… “Your Penis is Great” or “Your Penis is Fine”….I like it. Let’s do that. [laughter] So, before we wrap …
Herb Goldberg: We should write one for women, “Your Vagina is Fine”.
Dr. Lori Buckley: That’s a good one too. That’s Betty Dobson’s work. Right? Letting woman know that their vulvas are beautiful.
So, we need to wrap up soon. I do want to talk a little bit about women and sex. We have talked about men, but I know men want to hear about women and sex. I said at the beginning that I thought, maybe, that we had a different take on this. I have to say…I am going to read a few quotes from your book. When I read them, it just feels to me that you have some idea that women don’t like sex. And I bring it up, not to attack you, because I truly do think you are brilliant, but I think that you are not alone. There are a lot of men that feel the same way.
Herb Goldberg: Please, it would be great to have an honest dialogue with you about this. I will tell you exactly where I am coming from.
Dr. Lori Buckley: OK, great. Let me read the quote for our listeners. There are three quotes I am going to read. The first one is “Under anything less than ideal, romantic conditions most women can do without sex with a man indefinitely”. I know that a lot of men feel that way. Another one, “Women experience their sexuality, not as a path to pleasure, but as a path to power and control over the man”. And so again, men are probably loving that one. Women, not so much. And, the last quote is “Most women, who go without sex for long periods of time, do not really miss it”. So, tell me your thoughts on this. And where this idea….again it sounds to me like you don’t think women like sex. So, tell me what that’s about?
Herb Goldberg: Well, I am wrestling with the issue. Number one, women are in fact, truly sexual. Now, first of all, I have to say that, what I am talking about is sex with men. I think women can be very sexual when they masturbate. And, they can be very sexual with other women. I am not questioning that. What I am questioning is the true nature of most women and sexuality when it comes to men. The way I look at it, I try to look at, first of all, what kind of socialization do most women have when it comes to sex. From the time they are very young, little girls are getting negative messages about men and sex. They are getting the messages that most men will take advantage of you. Most men, that is all they want from a little girl. Men are animals. Men are pigs. I am not denying the truth behind some of that. Those are, number one, the messages. Number two, on an unconscious level, and it boggles my mind when I think of the actual impact of that as women start to grow up, even before they grow up, what is the impact of realizing that almost every time a man looks at them, he is undressing them, or he is wondering what they would be like in bed. That must be terrifying to women, to little girls or to young women. Very upsetting, to realize they are not being viewed as a person.
Dr. Lori Buckley: I don’t even think that most women are even of it.
Herb Goldberg: They are being viewed in terms of their body, their breasts and their vaginas. Men regress into pathetic, infantile behavior when they catch the sight of woman’s nipples, or her breasts, or that kind of thing. They are getting that from men all the time. They are also getting messages that say you can’t trust men. Many women have had bad experiences trusting men.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Because they have been screwed over.
Herb Goldberg: Yeah. Where they have given themselves, sexually, over to a guy and found that the guy didn’t really feel what he had said he felt. A lot of early socialization, in women, lays a negative foundation in terms of their sexuality with men. Number one…unless woman have done a lot of work, and worked through this kind of thing, they are going to carry a strong residue of fear and anger when it comes to men. Now, how do they over come that? Most women overcome that by romanticizing men. When they need to get married, they will say, “I have found a man, he is completely different then all other men and I am in love with him…blah, blah, blah”. And, that found out, of course, that he is not a lot different then other men. The question is, are women, really, as sexual in that way? My sense of women, in general, they can be very sexual with a man if it is in a certain fusion context, if it is in the context of romance and closeness. They can also shut it down, almost immediately if they are not getting what they want. I have seen, in my own clients, over the years, a lot of women get what they want from a man, which is marriage and a child, and then they get divorced. They often just focus completely on their career and raising the child. I never even hear them mention “Gee I am so horny I have got to find a man” and to me, if a woman really likes sex, she would not put all those conditions around it. She would say, “I am horny, I am going to find some kind of a neat guy, who’s attractive and I am just going to have sex with him and I am not going to expect anything from him, and I am just going to enjoy myself”. Also, what makes me suspicious about women’s sexuality, is that very few women are willing to talk about it directly to a man. If they are meeting a guy in the bar, they are not going to say to a man, “Boy I was looking at you and God, my fantasies about having sex with you started to go wild. So, I just thought it would be great to”, you know. They put the burden on the man. The man still has to be the seducer. They withhold that information and then they get all shy about it. So, do I think women can be very sexual? YES, under conditions of romance. YES, when they are masturbating. YES, when they are with other women. But, when it comes to their sexuality with men, I think it is very problematic.
Dr. Lori Buckley: OK. I agree with some of what you say. Because, I do believe that a lot of women fall into that category that you talk about. Where sex is, it is almost, a tool in a sense where some women use it as power in their relationship and that is what you talk about, is the power and control. But, I also, do know a lot of women, clinically and personally, who do those things that you describe.
Herb Goldberg: Such as?
Dr. Lori Buckley: That do just really want to have sex. That enjoy sex just for sex. Just for that pleasure.
Herb Goldberg: Will they initiate it with the man comfortably and freely like men do? Or would they make the man do it?
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah, that’s the thing, I think what you talked about with the early socialization and the messages that we get, interferes with that. So, there are a lot of women that don’t. And, we also have to say…lets face it, the women who do, that scares men. Men don’t like….When a woman comes up to you in a bar and says “Hey I want to go home with you”….he may do it. But certainly, he’s not
Herb Goldberg: I think that’s a rationalization, because it also scares women. If a man comes up and says “I would like to go home with you and have sex with you”, most women get turned off by that.
Dr. Lori Buckley: That’s true. Although, its expected of them. [laughter]
Herb Goldberg: Welcome to the club. Welcome to the club. I think some men would appreciate it. So, I think women rationalize their own anxieties by saying “men don’t like it” or “it turns men off” or “it scares them”. I think that is probably an over simplification. Certainly, I as a man, it wouldn’t turn me off, and it would not scare me. If a woman came up, whom I just met at a party or something, and said, “Boy I was really getting hot looking at you and I would love to know what it is like to make love to you”, I would be delighted.
Dr. Lori Buckley: [laughter] So, you would be “OK lets go”
Herb Goldberg: Well, I don’t know.
Dr. Lori Buckley: It depends on the woman. [laughter]
Herb Goldberg: I am not saying that necessarily. But, I would, certainly, respect her for it, admire her for it and if the circumstances were right, I would participate.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Thank you. So, if any of you see Herb [laughter] hanging out in a bar, you know what to do with that. You know, I do believe that it is challenging and difficult for women to talk freely about their sexuality, based on the messages that we are given. What does that mean, good girls don’t, I mean, there’s all of these messages that we get. But I really do believe that, underneath that, we are extremely sexual. We know, now that our bodies are made in women’s bodies. We have as much, if not more, erectile tissue then men have, in our vulvas and our vaginas.
Herb Goldberg: I agree, and I think actually that women are, potentially, far more sexual then men. And, men learned that lesson many, many years ago, in the days of group sex, and things like Sandstone, and Plato’s Retreat, that a man would think “Oh, that’s a great idea, lets go, we are going to have sex with other couples and it will be great.” So they go there, the guy has one or two orgasms and he is exhausted and he wants to go home. The woman is just getting started and she is really into it. [laughter]
So, I understand that potentially, women have very intense sexuality. So it is a complicated subject.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah. They need permission in a sense. So see you and I, we really don’t think that differently after all.
Herb Goldberg: Right. I think, certainly, that I agree that women have enormous sexual appetites, potentially.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah, potentially.
Herb Goldberg: And that’s intimidating to men. That scares men. In fact, some of the theories about why women have been repressed sexually, in past centuries, and in some cultures today, is because men, subconsciously are afraid of women’s sexuality. They are afraid that they are not going to be able to satisfy her. So, they restrain her. They prevent her from emerging.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah. Because, it is powerful.
Herb Goldberg: It is powerful.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Talk about connection. That is the ultimate connection, when both people, the man and the woman, are vulnerable. And that’s what intimacy means, right, when you can really be known, know the other person, and open yourself up in that way. And that is what great sex is. I mean, that’s the best sex. Its powerful. It can be really scary. It can be intense and people, on the one hand, want that. But, on the other hand, are afraid of it. Maybe aren’t even aware of those fears that underlie that. What does that mean? If they are able to open themselves up in that way. What is the potential for pain?
Herb Goldberg: I think we need to stop thinking of sex as a thing in itself. Sex is, always, within the context of your personality, within the context of your particular turn-ons, within the context of your own limitations and anxieties. And, so most great sex unfortunately, is usually, only early on in relationships, where there is a lot of fantasy, where your own issues and the other persons issues haven’t started to enter into and become center stage. The real challenge is how do you develop a really great sex life with someone who you really know well, and who they know you really well and where there is not a lot of fantasy, but its reality. If you can achieve that, which some people can, then you have achieved something that is truly wonderful.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Right. And we talk about this, I mean, this is one of the reasons that I do this show. This is what I want for people, for their relationships and their sex lives to get better, to get better with time. There are ways to do that. It is not easy, it takes some effort… I don’t like to use the word “work” because, I think that if you are doing it the right way it can be really pleasurable, the process itself.
Herb Goldberg: I know you are a specialist in this area, but in my own practice, over the years, if men, for example, come to me with a sex issue, I very rarely talk about sex. I talk about them. I think the issue is usually more to do with who they are and what they are all about, rather than the so called sex. Now, a lot of men don’t like that. They come with the attitude that “I am having trouble keeping my erection, FIX IT”. And then if you say “Well, lets talk about you first”, they say “Well what does that have to do with it?”.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Yeah. I think that is the difference between a traditional psychotherapist and a sex therapist. What I do in my practice, is I do exactly what you are saying, as well, because it is rarely about their penis, as we know or just about sex. There are so many things that are layered. It is very complex. Our sexuality is multilayered. We do talk about all of those things, but I also talk about the sex. We also talk about “OK what are some things you can do to give them some confidence, to give them some permission, to give them some skills even.
On that note, I am going to ask you one more question Herb and that has to do with sex. [laughter] Your answer may not have to do with sex, but I am going to ask it and we will see what you say. I am interested to hear and here is the question… “What is the one thing that men can do to improve their sex life”?
Herb Goldberg: I think the one thing that men can do is become self aware of their feelings, of how they are experienced, of their compulsions, of their issues, and anything that they can do to grow as a person, will grow their sex life as well.
Dr. Lori Buckley: I think that is great advice. So, it really is about who we are. If we can focus more on that then the mechanics of our genitals, we can have better relationships and better sex.
Thank you, so much, for joining us, such a great pleasure to be able to talk with you in this way. I really enjoyed it.
Herb Goldberg: The pleasure was mine, as well.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Awe…Thank you. And, I really think some good information…Now, where can our readers get more information about you or purchase your books?
Herb Goldberg: I have a practice in Los Angeles, I have a website, herbgoldbergphd.com, my books are available with Amazon and with a company called Self Help Books and my private practice is in my home, in Mount Washington in Los Angeles.
Dr. Lori Buckley: Great. Now, listeners, I highly recommend you go out and get this newest book, which is “What Men Still Don’t Know About Women, Relationships and Love”. It is a great book. And also, if you would like to send me any questions or comments, I would love to hear them. You could send them to me at [email protected] If you want transcripts of this show, or any other show, you can also go to personallifemedia.com and get all the information. We are going to have Dr. Goldberg’s books listed on the website. Listeners join us next week, On the Minds of Men, we are going to be talking to Krisanna Jeffery, author of “The Great Sex for Life Toolkit”. It should be interesting to hear what she has to say.
So that brings us to the end of the show. Thank you so much for listening. I am your host, Dr. Lori Buckley
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