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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: 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.