NYC Sex Therapist Earns “New York Magazine Best Doctors” Spot for 3rd Consecutive Year

NYC Sex Therapist Earns “New York Magazine Best Doctors” Spot for 3rd Consecutive Year

  In the end, your patients’ opinions are the only ones that really matter. But when you’re a sex therapist, your patients tend for obvious reasons not to thank you in public.  So one relies on the judgment of colleagues. In New York City, the central clearinghouse for colleagues’ opinions has for many years been the New York Magazine Best Doctors issue, published each year in June.  After 25 years in the trenches, my time finally came in June 2012.     In 2013, it happened again.       Now that it’s happened 3 times in a row, it’s clear I have a lot to live up to. It’s my honor again to be listed together with distinguished colleagues Harold Bronheim, Joseph Goldberg, and Deborah Marin from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai, as well as with colleagues Jesse Rosenthal and Todd Feinberg from the newly-established Mt Sinai Beth Israel.  And a special honor to again be listed together with my longtime Mt Sinai colleague sex and infertility urologist Natan Bar-Chama. There’s only one small problem:  the crying baby on the cover.  According to the caption, the baby is just-delivered Baby Emilie.  Looks as if she’s doing just fine. But people consulting a physician for the first time about sexual problems tend to be fairly anxious. I worry if I put her image on my office wall (as we New York doctors tend to do), that it won’t do much to help them relax. Well, at least it will be a reminder of what can happen as a result of good sex! Thanks again to my...
Sex Therapist at the Academy Awards, Part 2: The Courage to be Seen

Sex Therapist at the Academy Awards, Part 2: The Courage to be Seen

On the occasion of The Sessions being up for an Academy Award this year (Helen Hunt, for best supporting actress), we’re discussing some of the film’s implications  for sex therapy.  This is part 2. Something quite ordinary The Sessions tells the story one man’s extraordinary misfortune — paralyzed by polio at age 6 — and of his equally extraordinary courage in living, loving, and finding a place in the world.  It also concerns an extraordinary kind of sex treatment — sex surrogacy — where the therapist actually gets naked and has sex with her client. I don’t do sex surrogacy.   Neither do any of my colleagues.   Few sex therapists these days refer patients for sex surrogacy.   And not many sex therapists see clients who are as profoundly disabled as Mark O’Brien, the hero of The Sessions.    So on all counts, it’s hardly a typical story. But in one respect, O’Brien’s quest for sexual healing is completely ordinary — and entirely typical of the individuals and couples I see daily in my office. I’m referring to his intense ambivalence about getting help. Ambivalence, of course, is characteristic of all human endeavor.   And that’s certainly true about seeking any kind of mental health care.   But it’s in the realm of getting help for sexual suffering that the natural and universal human tendency toward ambivalence reaches perhaps its absolute peak. One of the movie’s most dramatic scenes has O’Brien, flat on his back as always, being wheeled to his first appointment with a sex therapist.  It’s an appointment that he himself made.  But he is screaming to be allowed...
Eros, Spirituality, and Crying During Sex

Eros, Spirituality, and Crying During Sex

Most recent in a series of articles  and interviews based on the new book Slow Sex by Nicole Daedone.   This is article 4 in the series.   My fellow sex journalist Tracy Clark-Flory was a guest at one of  Nicole Daedone’s weekend retreats  for women at Le Meridien in San Francisco last year.   One of the events was a live demonstration of Daedone’s technique of what she calls Orgasmic Meditation (OM) with a female volunteer.  (See references 1-3 below) During this public OM session, the volunteer apparently experienced one or more sexual climaxes, accompanied by loud vocalization. Writing later about the experience for Salon, Clark-Flory described the experience as having been “both arousing and deeply bizarre.” She also noted that during the demonstration two women in the audience were silently crying. I’m not surprised that Clark-Flory found the experience arousing, or bizarre.  But I’m disappointed she didn’t inquire more why those two audience members were crying. I would love to have asked them.   My guess? These women were crying because the scene, strange as it was, touched something profound inside them.   Not unlike what might cause one to cry during especially satisfying sex. Say what one will about Daedone, one must credit her with having followed an intuition that there is something profound about deeply felt sexual desire. Peak desire involves a sense of specialness, of connectedness, even of sacredness, that shares something with peak religious experience.  It’s not hard to imagine eros and spirituality sharing some special part of the human self. In her book Slow Sex, Daedone writes about her clients coming in saying that they’re...
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...
Dr Snyder named to NYC Best Doctor list by New York Magazine

Dr Snyder named to NYC Best Doctor list by New York Magazine

    New York City Best Doctors, 2012 I was honored this week to be featured in New York Magazine’s June 11 issue as one of 1,160 best NYC physicians — and as one of only 31 New York City psychiatrists to make the cut. Listing as a New York Magazine Best Doctor has for many years been recognized as an important achievement in the New York medical world, and I’m grateful to have earned this recognition. I’m particularly honored to join on the list some distinguished colleagues in the field of sexual medicine, including two sex specialist urologists with whom I’ve often worked — Natan Bar-Chama and Ridwan Shabsigh — — and an impressive number of the urology faculty of Mount Sinai Mount School of Medicine — Michael Droller, Michael Gribetz,  Michael Palese, David Samadi, Jeffrey Stock, Jonathan Vapnek, and Department Chairman Simon Hall. — as well as many accomplished psychiatric colleague friends — such as Philip Bialer,  Harold Bronheim, Michael First, Alan Manevitz, Deborah Marin, Andy Roth, Jonathan Silver, and fellow sex therapist psychiatrist Virginia Sadock.   Yes, psychiatrists DO still talk to patients It’s well-known that there are fundamentally two different kinds of psychiatrists — the “pill kind” and the “talking kind.”  And it’s rumored that the latter are increasingly an endangered species. As a psychiatrist who is definitely more the “talking kind,”  I’m pleased that “talking psychiatry” is still acknowledged as having value.  Well, at least in New York City. Thanks as always to my colleagues and patients —  for your trust and encouragement every day.   Copyright © Stephen Snyder, MD 2012 www.sexualityresource.com New York City Follow Dr...