Losing Her Virginity, Again

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Natalie Dylan, the pseudonym for a 22-year-old San Diego woman, is taking steps to auction off her virginity. She's taking bids - reportedly already reaching into millions of dollars - to have sex for the first time at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, a brothel in Nevada run by proprietor Dennis Hof. She says she has taken a polygraph and is willing to undergo a medical examination to prove her virginal status.

Natalie's sister already works at the Bunny Ranch. Both women, according to Natalie, turned to selling sex as a way to continue their educations, after their father allegedly took out student loans in their names and used the money for other purposes. Natalie has described herself as a graduate of Sacramento State College with plans to pursue a master's degree in marriage and family therapy.

So here's some advice from this therapist_ Natalie, it's time to wonder whether a polygraph or medical examination can really tell you whether this is the first time you've found yourself in a house - of prostitution, or otherwise - that failed to value you as a human being (not a product) and count as priceless your well-being and spiritual development. Whatever "ability" you have to cordon off your emotions and turn yourself into a commodity may well have been forged in circumstances that required you to deny your emotions and surrender your most private and intimate thoughts and feelings. And if that is the case, the fact that you're now the one "profiting" doesn't insulate you from the psychological toll of replaying the loss of your innocence.

I worry that your psychological virginity - that belief that the world around you is a safe and loving and predictable place - was taken long before this auction. That brand of virginity is supposed to be surrendered only as childhood and adolescence yield to young adulthood and then full adulthood. It is supposed to be protected in one's early years by parents who put you first, and themselves a distant second. It is supposed to be nurtured by caretakers and teachers and neighbors and friends who discover your special gifts, respect you as a person and honor your boundaries. That's how you learn to cherish yourself.

Take a little time to wonder why shouting out to the world that your first sexual experience might as well be shared with a stranger might be a way of shouting out to the world that your first experiences in other facets of your life were kept no less sacred, that you have been violated - whether emotionally or otherwise - without any compensation. Is that why you figure you might as well put some money in the bank? Which corners of your soul feel bankrupt?

Here's the last piece of advice: Understand if you will, that the world will always bid high for you to surrender that which is truly a priceless part of you. But this time - unlike the last time - you can keep yourself out of harm's way, if you believe you deserve to be.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement. Check out Dr. Ablow's website at livingthetruth.com or e-mail him at info@keithablow.com.