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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Women are increasingly seeking help for issues surrounding their sexual desire in our changing psychosocial climate. This has come in the form of seeking therapy, discussions with physicians, and self-help books. This book explores the situations of different women and addresses issues with their sexual desires within a broader perspective of identity and relationships.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide information and case examples regarding the range of problems manifested within the context of women's sexual desire. It also aims to provide a deeper understanding of other underlying issues and approaches that can be taken with therapy to resolve these issues. The main focus is on problems during the sexual desire phase, rather than sexual dysfunction during the performance phase.
Audience: The book appears to be aimed primarily at women struggling with the nature of their sexual desire, but it also may be appropriate for couples to further explore their relationship in this area. The organization of the book seems to be geared more towards therapists, but the content is probably too simplistic for this audience. The author is a veteran sex therapist and has a few presentations, but little scientific work in this area.
Features: The history of women's sexual desire and biopsychosocial influences are covered first. Topics then progress through potential explanations for common problems involving sexual desire from a variety of perspectives (e.g., psychological, developmental, medical). Identity development and power are themes later touched upon. The book ends with a description of emerging treatment approaches. While this sounds promising, unfortunately the author has not thoroughly researched all of these approaches (e.g., EMDR) and some are more gimmicks than valid treatments. The chapter on a specific cognitive-behavioral approach is fairly superficial and does not delve into anything more than the most obvious cognitive-behavioral principles in the case examples and does not provide any information about the inner workings of this approach (e.g., case conceptualization, homework assignments).
Assessment: This book seems to be caught between appealing to professionals and the average person. It is not written with the scientific rigor that would be expected if using it as a therapeutic guide, but it also is lacking the practical nature of a self-help book. The best that can be said is that the issues are likely to be relevant to many women. Nevertheless, in its attempt to straddle popular psychology and the professional literature, the book ends up serving neither audience well.