Functional and Dysfunctional Sexual Behavior: A Synthesis of Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology

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This book explores the full consequences of the dissociation between sexual behaviors and reproduction. Among the themes covered is the difference between the stereotyped sexual behaviors in non-human mammals and the astounding variety of human sexual behaviors. The role of learning in shaping sexual behaviors is explained, and it is shown how particular sexual experiences may be at the origin of common human sexual dysfunctions. Chapters on sexual incentives and a summary of the endocrine and central nervous control of sexual behaviors are included.

• Analyzes the origin and foundations of some of the myths surrounding sexual behaviors
• Highlights how learning shape human sexual behaviors
• Provides an overview of the endocrine and neural regulation of mammalian sexual behaviors
• Presents a comprehensive analysis of human sexual desire disorders
• Employs many entertaining examples for illustrating main points
• Written by a scientist thoroughly familiar with the research literature
• Presents examples of translational sex research

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book describes sexual behavior, functional and dysfunctional, distinguishing and dissociating pleasure from reproduction. It reveals insights about sexuality on both the physiological and behavioral levels.
Purpose: According to the author, "this book is an attempt to provide a picture of mammalian sexual behaviors based on solid rather than on ephemeral or metaphysical knowledge." He adds that his intention is to "explore the full consequences of the dissociation of sexual behaviors from reproduction."
Audience: Although not explicitly stated, clinicians are the most likely audience and graduate students taking classes in human sexuality would also benefit.
Features: The author first defines sexual behavior as "any action leading to sexual reward." Among the interesting topics he then explores are the purpose of sex, endocrine control of sexual behavior, basic concepts and the occurrence in non-human mammals of the preference for same sex partners, and hyperactive sexual desire and the paraphilias. He posits that, "human sexual behavior is determined by social conventions far more than by biological factors," noting "we must add a social perspective to sexuality whenever discussing human sexual behaviors." At the end of each chapter, there is a general conclusion, summary, and list of references. One drawback of the book is the relative lack of instructive figures.
Assessment: Beginning with St. Augustine and teleology, the author goes a long way to provide a comprehensive look at a complex topic. This is a solid work, not easy reading, but well worth the effort.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780123705907
  • Publisher: Elsevier Science
  • Publication date: 8/17/2007
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

On the purpose of sex and some notes on scientific explanations.
An incentive motivational framework and the description of sexual behaviours.
The stimulus control of sexual incentive motivation: Non-human mammals.
The stimulus control of sexual incentive motivation: The human.
Endocrine control of sexual behavior.
Neural control of sexual behavior.
Learning and sex: Sexual activity as reinforcement and reward.
Preference for same sex partners: Basic concepts and its occurrence in non-human mammals.
Preference for same sex partners in the human.
Some comments on the concepts of “normal” or “functional” sexual behavior.
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
Hyperactive sexual desire and the paraphilias.
On the omissions.

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