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Book Review
July 2002

The Sexual Century

Author Affiliations
 

by Ethel S. Person, MD, 408 pp, with illus, $40, ISBN 0-300-07604-5, New Haven, Conn, Yale University Press, 1999.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59(7):667-669. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.59.7.667

In his attempt to bring order to the understanding of how we humans function psychologically, Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of the dual-drive nature of human motivation. Libido and aggression were seen by him as residing below the surface of the personality we could observe in everyday life. Freud's insight into this fundamental duality brought us closer to comprehending the inner world of drive, fantasy, and psychopathology, but on the debit side, it lead to a premature closure of investigation of sexuality and all its complex manifestations. Instead, it reduced sexuality to an intrapsychic process that is more or less the result of an unfolding internal developmental sequence. At the pinnacle of psychoanalytic dominance in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s, one could safely say that homosexuality was viewed as a perversion; women dissatisfied with their sexual lives or who were anorgasmic during intercourse were seen as suffering from penis envy; and men suffering from impotence or premature ejaculation were actually expressing the impact of their castration anxiety.

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