Dr Snyder gets media training from Oprah on CBS This Morning

Dr Snyder gets media training from Oprah on CBS This Morning

When the call came from CBS This Morning  to come discuss two new anthropological papers on the origins of monogamy, my first concern naturally was to make sure I didn’t say anything embarrassing on national TV. So I decided to make detailed notes as a precautionary measure.   But I learned that on TV this isn’t such a good idea — especially if you’re so busy re-reading your notes for the 401st time that you don’t even look up when they announce your name.   Hey, who knew? I also learned you have to talk a little faster on TV.   OK, a lot faster.    As a doctor, you learn to weigh your words carefully, and you want to make sure everything you say is understood.   But TV is more like being at home with the family — you can start talking, but unless you keep it lively you may not get to finish!                       Turns out that Oprah, who’d been on the show that morning to discuss her new movie The Butler, had been intrigued by my topic  (Hey, who wouldn’t be!) and had asked to stay longer to hear about human monogamy.   So as an unexpected bonus I got media training from Oprah herself . . . I’d been on the show for about three minutes (it had felt like about 2 seconds) and was just starting to feel comfortable in front of 3 million people when I was told we were out of time.   Sheesh — I’d hardly gotten warmed up!   Oprah turned...
Before the last word is said about Fifty Shades

Before the last word is said about Fifty Shades

Here’s a question: Does anyone have any idea why Fifty Shades of Grey has sold so many millions of books? I’m asking because in all that I’ve read about this book, I haven’t seen one mention of what it’s really about.  And why it’s been such a runaway success. Is it because of the explicit sex scenes? (No, I don’t think so.) Is it because of the BDSM? (Not likely.) No, the reason Fifty Shades has captivated so many American women is this: It’s a book about impossible love – made possible by courage, persistence, and luck. Just like Twilight: A young woman falls in love with a vampire.  Impossible.  But they make it work. In Fifty Shades a young woman falls in love with a deeply damaged man who is a sexual dominant.   He needs a submissive woman, and he’s had many such women.   But he hasn’t been able to fall in love with any of them.  So he’s deeply lonely. He meets the heroine, who of all the women he’s met, does not have a submissive bone in her body.    So it’s impossible. She too has never been in love before. But by the end of Volume 1, she has against her will fallen deeply in love with this tormented man.   In the first book . . . At the very end . . .  in a moment of profound tenderness, she tells him she loves him.  His response is brief.  “Oh, no,” he says. She leaves his place immediately, goes home, falls on her bed and is wracked with sobs.  She is broken. Except...
Sexual Healing That Won’t Break Your Nose

Sexual Healing That Won’t Break Your Nose

  All things considered, the mental health profession comes off pretty well in this year’s new sex movie Hope Springs.  Marriage therapist and author Dr Bernard Feld, played by Steve Carell, is a fairly nice specimen by Hollywood standards. He’s likeable, intelligent, confident-but-not-a-shmuck, and commits no flagrant boundary violations.  You get the idea.   He’s an OK guy. He has one big problem, though — he’s a “destination therapist.”  Couples come to see him for a week of intensive marital work.  This has some obvious advantages, such as that the clients in his office aren’t too burdened by everyday concerns. The big disadvantage, though, of being a “destination therapist” is that you’re under time pressure.   This is a particular disadvantage when it comes to sex therapy. You see, the human sexual system doesn’t like working under pressure.   It’s naturally rebellious.  Put it under pressure, and it will be all too happy to disappoint.   In Hope Springs, Meryl Streep’s husband Arnold, played by Tommy Lee Jones, is a world-class passive-aggressive,  and hence is also happy to disappoint.  It would be hard to imagine a more reluctant therapy client. Dr Feld, trying to work quickly, chooses a forceful opening move.  He likens therapy to nasal surgery.   In order to open the breathing passages, one must first mobilize the bones of the nose by breaking them, then putting them back together. Surgical metaphors are rarely appropriate in psychotherapy.   And they’re virtually never appropriate in sex therapy.   Hit someone hard enough in such a sensitive place, and they’re not going to feel like making love. Feld’s forceful opening succeeds in knocking Arnold out...
Sexless in Nebraska:  Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in “Hope Springs”

Sexless in Nebraska: Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in “Hope Springs”

  A strange thing, mystifying In this new movie, Tommy Lee Jones plays an Omaha accountant named Arnold who won’t have sex with his wife — Kay, a sixty-something Everywoman played by a very likeable Meryl Streep. No sex, no physical attention, minimal eye contact, separate bedrooms.  The marital estrangement combination platter – with fries. True to life?  Absolutely.  It would be awfully nice if this were just a Hollywood dramatization.   But in fact it happens all the time in real life. Now what, one might ask, would cause Hope Springs’ Arnold to hang a “no trespassing” sign on himself, especially with such a nice woman as Kay for a wife?   The answer is surprisingly simple.  (Skip the following if you’re about to see the movie).   True to life Years ago, it turns out, Kay was feeling unhappy that Arnold wasn’t more fully involved during sex — that he seemed “ to want it, but not me.”   (True to life?   Absolutely.  It’s one of the more common complaints among married women in my sex therapy office.) Frustrated that Arnold wouldn’t listen when she tried to express how she felt, Kay briefly withheld sex, hoping to get his attention.  The plan backfired.  Feeling criticized and hurt, Arnold too went on strike.  Permanently. Before I became a sex therapist, I would have thought this incredible.  Now I find it utterly believable.  It’s the kind of emotional stalemate that often happens to individuals who can’t express themselves very well.   That includes a lot of folks. But notice something:  Even though the problem involves sex, it’s not really ABOUT sex. It’s...
On staying faithful in Hollywood and elsewhere

On staying faithful in Hollywood and elsewhere

    July 27, 2012 After news of the Kristen Stewart mini-scandal broke this week, I was contacted by IBTimes writer Justine Ashley Costanza about infidelity amongst the famous and not-so-famous.   With her permission, I’m reprinting the conversation we had in preparation for her IBTimes article that appeared July 25th. Dr Snyder, you’ve said you’re sympathetic to Stewart? Absolutely.   She’s 22.  How many of us would like all the mistakes we made in our 20’s to be recorded on videotape? Why would a 22-year-old woman cheat on her boyfriend of three years with a 41 year old married man? Fidelity has lots of advantages, but absolute fidelity doesn’t come naturally.  It takes commitment. At 22, one is still learning from one’s mistakes.  It takes longer than that to know who you really are, what you really need, and how to resolve your conflicts. Could it have anything to do with the fact that he’s her director? The undivided attention an actress gets from her director can be very erotic.   As I mentioned in Twilight and the Art of Foreplay, that kind of attention can be very attractive to a woman. Look at all the Hollywood actresses who’ve ended up marrying or involved with their directors.  It’s staggering. Can a couple ever get over this kind of thing? Maybe not get over it, but get through it.   If there’s sincerity and real regret over what happened. Do you recommend anything to read for couples struggling with the fallout from infidelity? I like Janice Spring’s After the Affair.  It’s no-nonsense, and it captures the feeling of total disorientation...