Sex therapist at the Academy Awards:  Helen Hunt in The Sessions

Sex therapist at the Academy Awards: Helen Hunt in The Sessions

    A Strange Thing, Mystifying How many of you saw The Sessions?  Good – I see some hands. Did it lead to much discussion?  Well it didn’t in my house either. And in the popular press the same thing.  A few early reviews saying it was very moving, and well done.  Then nothing more. A movie about a severely disabled man — the poet Mark O’Brien — who enlists a sex surrogate to help him experience physical passion, and about the emotional and religious complexities (he’s Catholic) that ensue.    It would seem this film would prompt endless discussion, with so many possible points of entry. But it didn’t.  Everyone agreed that the film was “very moving,” but no one seemed to have much to say about it. Maybe it’s that The Sessions involved things we’ve learned to keep quiet about —  such as that the world might be a better place if we could all give and receive sexual pleasure a whole lot more freely.   Such an idea of course generally meets with polite silence.   Even in our sex-saturated times, sexual surrogacy as a profession still hardly dares speak its name. Or maybe that’s not it.   Perhaps it’s something else.  Maybe the movie prompts feelings that are simply too difficult to express with words.  That wouldn’t be surprising — given how sexuality reaches into the most primitive parts of our minds.  Maybe we’d all really love to talk about this movie, but we lack the necessary vocabulary. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the artist who shows his work at a gallery opening.   Someone comes up to him and...
The SexualityResource Interview:  When Size Obsession Gets Out of Hand

The SexualityResource Interview: When Size Obsession Gets Out of Hand

Photo credit:  Pedrosimoes7 Tori Rodriguez, a writer for MensHealth.com, recently interviewed me for a short article, The Obsession with Size, prompted by a recent article in the British Journal of Urology reporting that most men electing penis enlargement surgery are in fact normally endowed.   Thanks to Ms Rodriguez and to the editors of MensHealth.com for permission to publish the original interview that led to the article:   TR: How common is Body Dysmorphic Disorder involving the penis – or as some have called it, Penile Dysmorphic Disorder? Dr.Snyder: I don’t know of any statistics on this. Anxiety or insecurity about penis size is extremely common in men.  It would be difficult to determine how frequently the more serious condition of penis-focused BDD occurs.  But it’s undoubtedly much rarer.   TR: Do you see many men with this condition? Dr.Snyder: People with BDD tend to avoid mental health specialists.  Which is not surprising, since part of the psychology of BDD is the conviction that one has an actual physical problem.  It’s much more likely I think that a man with penile BDD will purchase penis enlargement equipment or consult a surgeon than consult someone like me.   TR: Why would a man have “penile dysmorphic disorder,” even when he doesn’t actually have a small penis? Dr.Snyder: Good question.  The answer, as one of my urology colleagues puts it, has more to do with the “big brain” in a man’s head than with the “little brain” between his legs.  There is an extraordinary diversity of human minds.   TR: What kind of a man would be prone to penile BDD? Dr.Snyder:...
Will “Sex at Dawn” Influence Sex Therapy?

Will “Sex at Dawn” Influence Sex Therapy?

Sex Secrets of Our Ancestors Recently, SexualityResource reviewed Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha’s Sex at Dawn—a new book arguing that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were sexual promiscuous in small groups. And that the development 10,000 years ago of agriculture, an ownership society, and sexual monogamy brought an end to this golden age of human sexuality. As a sex therapist in New York City (where the kind of ownership society begun 10,000 years ago has perhaps reached a pinnacle of development), I wonder about whether the ideas discussed in this book will influence my field much. So far, it doesn’t look promising. The dominant public reaction to the book in its first month has been that it “shows that humans are meant to be sexually promiscuous.” This is a subtle and understandable misreading of Sex at Dawn, but a misreading nonetheless. Let me explain why it’s a misreading, using an excerpt from Sex at Dawn that you may worry is a digression. But trust me, it’s relevant.   Human Nature?  It’s the Bananas, Stupid. During Jane Goodall’s first four years studying chimpanzees in Tanzania, according to Sex at Dawn, she observed them to be remarkably peaceful creatures. But they were difficult to observe, since they tended not to hang around her camp much. So she tried to attract them nearer by regularly feeding them bananas. The effect, evidently, was to make the chimpanzees more aggressive. Fighting between them increased dramatically. Now, which represented the chimpanzee’s true nature? The gentle chimpanzees happily feeding far apart in the forest, not bothering each other? Or the hoodlum chimpanzees shoving each other out of the way at the daily...
The Sexuality Resource Interview:  Dr Laura Muggli on ADHD in Women

The Sexuality Resource Interview: Dr Laura Muggli on ADHD in Women

  After posting two articles on ADHD and Marriage in response to a recent NYTimes article, I received several responses asking specifically about women with ADHD.    I decided to consult my favorite Women’s ADHD guru in New York City, Dr Laura Muggli. Laura, we hear a lot lately about ADHD and relationships, but it’s mostly about men with ADHD.  What about when it’s the woman who has ADHD? Women feel more pressure to hide their ADHD from potential mates. More than men? Absolutely.  Because the social role expectations are so different.   An absent-minded, inattentive man is not so far removed from society’s expectations of men in general.  Men are almost supposed to be inattentive. But women, they’re supposed to be detail-oriented, and to be great at paying attention.  A woman with ADHD often feels it’s something she needs to hide, in order to satisfy the world’s expectations of her as a woman. So you’re saying that the difference between men and women with ADHD has to do with the culture’s expectations of maleness and femaleness? That’s a big part of it.   People tend to be less forgiving of disorganized women.  Women are supposed to keep the world running smoothly. A man who’s late to pick his kids up from school is “just being a typical man.”  But a woman who does the same thing is “a bad mother.” Do girls experience this same double-standard growing up? Absolutely.  As a child, when you perceive that the world is not going to accept you, you go into hiding. This is not unique to ADHD.  It happens to homosexuals almost universally.  And it happens...
ADHD, Marriage, and The New York Times, Part 2: Alvin? Alvin??! ALVIIIN!!!!

ADHD, Marriage, and The New York Times, Part 2: Alvin? Alvin??! ALVIIIN!!!!

  The word “Deficit” in “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” is seriously misleading. As any parent of a kid with ADHD will tell you, such children often have an astounding capacity for paying attention to something that happens to be immediately exciting, such as a video game. The problem is that they have trouble paying attention to anything that’s not immediately exciting. Many ADHD kids, if you call their name while they are doing something they find exciting, will not even hear you.   Many are mistakenly sent for hearing evaluations before the real problem is identified. It’s all there in the original Alvin and the Chipmunks “Simon?”  “Yes, Dave.” (Simon does not have ADHD) “Theodore?”   “Yes, Dave.” (Theodore does not have ADHD) “Alvin?”   “Alvin?!”   ALVIIIN!!!!!” (Alvin has ADHD, and was busy thinking about something else.  So busy that he never noticed his name being called). The Alvins of the world get yelled at a lot A parent may do their best to be kind.   But when everyone is hurrying to get out the door for an important family event, except little Alvin who has his shoes off in front of a video screen, completely unaware of the time or of what’s going on around him – you’re going to hear some yelling. My favorite kids’ book on ADHD, Jumpin’ Johnny, Get Back to Work, begins with six words:  “I just got yelled at again.” This book had me from page one. Curiously, ADHD kids often don’t seem much affected by all the yelling that gets directed at them.   You ever see Alvin upset?   It often hardly seems to touch these kids at all.   Like Alvin,...