Human Sexuality: A Psychosocial Perspective

Overview

For Instructors and Students:

For students, this is the textbook that you'll want as a life-long resource! And for instructors, this text that will engage and motivate students like no other. Co-authors Ruth Westheimer, EdD and Sanford Lopater, PhD form a compelling team to offer you a text that integrates clinical experience with academic expertise, demonstrating a proven ability to make this subject accessible, understandable, and engaging. Classical content along with ...

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Overview

For Instructors and Students:

For students, this is the textbook that you'll want as a life-long resource! And for instructors, this text that will engage and motivate students like no other. Co-authors Ruth Westheimer, EdD and Sanford Lopater, PhD form a compelling team to offer you a text that integrates clinical experience with academic expertise, demonstrating a proven ability to make this subject accessible, understandable, and engaging. Classical content along with innovative approaches are intertwined to provide: psychosocial prominence, a strong cross-cultural emphasis, in-depth assessments of sexuality in aging and illness, focus on personal health & wellness, readable and reassuring narrative and unsurpassed artwork. LWW supports every instructor's individual style and educational priorities, and gives students an extra edge with these ancillaries: imagebank, instructor's guide, test generator (written by co-author Sanford Lopater), lecture presentation slides, online content updates, web resource links, student study guide, and an introductory video by Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

For all those who want their questions answered:

  • Curious about what sexual health and wellness issues you may encounter in each stage of your life?
  • Want tips on how to effectively talk to your children about sex?
  • Ever wonder how a particular sexual issue is treated in other countries?
  • Interested in what the latest sexual research tells us about ourselves?
  • If you answered yes to any of these questions, we have a book for you!

    Human Sexuality discusses issues and gives advice & guidance on virtually every topic relating to human sexuality, including: anatomy, gender identity and preference, health & wellness, relationships, love, arousal, physical expressions of intimacy, pregnancy, contraception, abortion, sexuality in childhood, adulthood and aging, sexual dysfunctions, sex therapy, sexuality in illness & disability, STDs, AIDS, paraphilias, and sexual abuse & exploitation. It also provides insight into real-life scenarios from Dr. Ruth's practice, allowing you to hear and learn from the experiences of others.

    FEATURES:

    • Chapter Opening: Each chapter begins with a brief Highlights of material to follow and a set of Learning Objectives
    • From Dr. Ruth: Unique, personal insights in introductory paragraphs
    • Other Countries, Cultures, and Customs: Cross-cultural material is integrated throughout the text. Individual chapters contain a vignette, study, or story that demonstrates ways of life in other societies.
    • Research Highlights: multidisciplinary analysis of the nature, meaning, methods, and implications of classical and current studies.
    • Exploding Myths: identifies and looks at the sources of common sexual myths and why they are perpetuated.
    • On the Lighter Side: Comical stories to reduce the difficulty of learning human sexuality.
    • Dear Dr. Ruth: Short "vignettes" take readers into the world of her role as therapist. Questions, concerns, and scenarios based on Dr. Westheimer's broad experience are presented.
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What People Are Saying

John Collins
"I am most excited by the easy, conversational style and the special chapter features. I also appreciate the presentation of written material with respect for varying perspectives, and the obvious homework that was done to represent issues accurately. There is a great balance, from the reader's perspective, of discussion and data. The general descriptions of research and ethics are unique, and a welcome addition to a textbook. I will seriously consider it for my classes."
PhD, North Dakota State University
David G. Johnson
"The book rates right up there with the best in the field. It seems poised to occupy a valuable and large niche in the marketplace…..I will seriously consider this text for my classes…"
University of South Alabama
Stephanie McGowanMcGowan
"This textbook stands out in my mind as being superior to other textbooks in the number of features designed especially to help students learn, to make the material interesting and accessible to them. I would definitely consider adopting this textbook…"
University at Albany, State University of New York
Richelle Renee Frabotta
"I am impressed with the content and reality based manner in which the information is presented. I noticed immediately that it is inclusive of minority populations and experiences - and acknowledging a multicultural voice is essential for any textbook to which I expose my students….Dr. Ruth lending her name, vast experience with therapy, and incredibly straightforward manner of speaking the truth with humor is a plus! It is my sense that students see her as a credible and non-threatening expert on this somewhat scary and overwhelming subject."
M.S.Ed, Sinclair Community College
Sherman K. Sowby
“I think Human Sexuality is going to be a big success. Everything is explained so well. It is really a scholarly book, but the reading style can fool you - students reading this text may not realize how much they are learning because it is so fun to read …I sense a real personal investment from the authors, not just another sexuality text”
----Sherman K. Sowby, PhD, CHES, California State University Fresno
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780781737487
  • Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Pages: 780

Table of Contents

Brief Contents

1. The Place of Sexuality in Our Lives
2. Historical and Current Traditions and Perspectives in Human Sexuality
3. Gender, Sexual Identity, Self-Concept and the Psychosocial Environment
4. Female and Male Genital and Reproductive Anatomy, Physiology, and Endocrinology
5. Taking Care of Yourself: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Wellness
6. Sexual Arousal and Responsiveness: Personal and Societal Perspectives on Pleasure and Sharing
7. Love, Affection, and Sexual Intimacy
8. Physical Expressions of Eroticism and Intimacy
9. Gender Preferences
10. Fertility, Infertility, Pregnancy, and Childbirth
11. Contraception: Making Choices or Taking Chances
12. Sexual Experience and Expression in Childhood and Adolescence
13. Sexuality in Young Adulthood, Adulthood, and Aging
14. Sexual Dysfunctions: Incompatibility, Inadequacy, or Inappropriately Learned Responses
15. Sex Therapy: "Helping People to Help Themselves"
16. Illness and Disability: Coping with Impairment and Loss
17. Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS
18. Sexual Variations and the Paraphilias
19. Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Force: The Loss of Our Very Personhood
Glossary
References
Photo and Art Credit List
Index

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First Chapter

Chapter 1
The Place of Sexuality in Our Lives

Highlights:

  • Assumptions About a Course in Sexuality
  • A Multidisciplinary Approach to Sexuality
  • Levels of Analysis
  • We Are Surrounded by Sexuality
  • Sexual Expression and Sexual Experience Surround Us

Objectives

When You finish reading and reviewing this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Describe some common assumptions students have about a Course in human Sexuality. 2. Describe your own expectations and assumptions about a course in human sexuality. 3. List Several sciences and professions related to the Study of human sexuality. 4. Discuss how sexual topics are included in the subject matter of different Sciences. 5. Describe what is meant by "levels of analysis" and give examples of macro and micro levels of analysis of Sexual topics. 6. Discuss the prevalence of sexual concerns to people with different lifestyles and levels of personal development. 7. Suggest additional sexual issues affecting our lifestyles that have not been Introduced in this chapter.

From Dr. Ruth

What an opportunity! How exciting to be in a course that can inform. motivate, and reassure you about one of the most fundamental, fascinating, and pervasive aspects of human nature. Not every course can help you better understand yourself, other people, and society all at the same time. But we must tell you from the beginning that this subject is sometimes quite complex; that it is a serious academic discipline with its own traditions, methods, and controversies. Some of the things you will read you may already know about, other things may surprise you, and still others really may astonish You. The discipline of human sexuality can improve the quality of your life and, in some cases, even the length of your life.

Sexuality surrounds us every day because in one way or another we encounter sexual "concerns," "issues," and "questions." But you most likely have not had the chance to study these topics in much depth. This is your chance to do just that. Although we have written this book to teach you about human sexuality, we want to encourage you to use this information to learn still more and to critically assess what YOU read and hear in the media and from your friends. You can think of this as "life skills" course.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT A COURSE IN SEXUALITY

Because our assumptions guide our perceptions, an understanding of our own beliefs helps us better comprehend events in the world around us. This is a good time to examine some common beliefs about this course you are taking. The following common assumptions are not a complete list, but they are a good starting point. We want to encourage you to think about your expectations for this subject matter and for this book.

ASSUMPTION 1: Human sexuality is a single, integrated subject in which facts, concepts, and principles are all clearly related to each other. This assumption cannot be fully supported. Just browsing through this book Nvill reveal an enormous variety of topics. For example. one chapter includes complicated descriptions of the action of sex hormones on reproductive behaviors and fertility, while other chapters discuss social perspectives on issues such as homosexuality and sexual assault. This diversity of topics presents an interesting challenge for the course but can also stimulate curiosity about relationships among facts that, at first, might seem unrelated.

Just as human sexualiny includes diverse topics, so too are the methods sex researchers use to discover trends, facts, and generalities. As medical scientists use sophisticated physiological and biochemical techniques to make discoveries, social and behavioral scientists use many other methodologies, such as observational techniques, carefully controlled experiments, and survey and questionnaire investigations. Consider, however, that this research always take place within the context of a cultural value system, and different cultures sometimes have very different perspectives on sexual issues.

ASSUMPTION 2: Most students already have learned a lot about human sexuality in elementary school, high school, their homes, or their church groups. We wish this were true, but it is unusual for undergraduates to have learned much yeat about many of the topics in this course. Now you have the oppurtunity to enrich your life by exploring this most interesting aspect of human nature. Much may be new to you, but you'll experience the excitement of discovery. You have already much about some aspects of human sexuality, but so is likely not based on careful study. The material in this book, however, is organized and authoritative to help make your learning thorough and systematic. Instruction in human sexuality may have changed in recent years, but the serious, organized and factual quality of the discipline has not (Fig. 1-1).

Some of what students know or think about sex may involve feelings of guilt or anxiety. Accurate, useful information,however, can be a powerful antidote to such feelings. This is just one of the benefits of a course like this: to gain a new understanding in a nonjudgmental, safe, academics setting.

ASSUMPTION 3: Students will think critically about what they learn and will apply it in their interpersonal relationships and professional studies. We're counting on this. Our experience has shown that knowledge of human change lives, almost always for the better. Still, there is times a gap between learning something and incorporating it into one's life. Feelings of nervousness about sex do not suddenly disappear when one learns new information. Accurate information is only the first step in developing a personal sense of "sexuality literacy."

We urge you not to take a simplistic "take it home and put it to work " approach to sexual information. Most sexual expression takes place in an interpersonal context, and that means someone else is involved in your sexual discovery and development. Be cautious about sharing what you learn without clear communication first.

One of our most important goals in this book is to provide enough information for you to make intelligent sexual decisions and enhance your reproductive and sexual health. This involves much more than erections and secretions. We urge an active personal commitment to maintaining personal health through such things as testicular or breast self-examination, regular marm-nograms if appropriate, responsible consideration and use of contraception, and sensitivity to the risks of sexually transmitted diseases.

Finally, you will find this information indispensable i many different professions. Those majoring in nursing, social work, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, health education, physical education, premedicine, prelaw, or gerontology, to name only a few, will gain pertinent and interesting information for your life's work, More obviously, this knowledge is essential and important for parenting skills.

ASSUMPTION 4: Human sexuality has central importance in the liberal arts and sciences. We think so. If liberal learning implies that exposure to the arts, sciences, and social sciences enhances our lives and prepares us for an ever-changing world, then certainly this course is part of this tradition. But you should know that others may react differently when they learn you are taking this course. Sorne of your friends and fellow students may find something slightly suspect about this Course, Although everyone accepts that metabolism, digestion, and neural functioning are "natural" aspects of humanity to study, unfortunately some do not Include human sexuality as a "natural" function. Some may even feel the topic or the course involves erotic, titillating, exhibitionistic, or obscene elements. With an understanding of the breadth and depth of this subject, however, you can easily legitimize its place in the curriculum.

ASSUMPTION 5: Students always see the relationship between physical aspects of sexuality and the importance of comimunication, intimacy, and individuation. This assumption involves an interesting challenge. Many people mistakenly believe that if they just knew more about touching and lovemaking techniques, then their sexual selves would be complete and satisfied. But of course, tactile stimulation and sexual intercourse without communication and commitment are usually less than fully rewarding experiences. A thorough familiarity with anatomical, physiological, and hormonal aspects of human sexuality in no way insures a person can communicat with another openly about sensitive issues. Shared intimacy exists in an interpersonal relationship, of which sexuality is just one dimension.

A genuine capacity for intimacy often depends on a climate of psychological safety and a couple's willingness to share their vulnerabilities. Real mutuality involves accepting the other without expecting the other to change to please you. These relationship dimensions do not automatically flow from one's knowledge of the physical aspects of sexual interaction.

Yet there are reciprocal influences of the physical and emotional aspects of sexual expression that you will come to better understand.

We started out with the observation that our assurriptions often guide our perceptions. The assumptions we discussed may not match your own, but We urge vou to examine carefully your beliefs and values related to Sexuality and how they may affect your expectations for this course.

A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO SEXUALITY

Perhaps nowhere more so than In the study Of human sexuality do so many arenas of human inquirly come together. Each discipline has its own rules and traditions for what constitutes a " fact, " the generalizing of findings, research methods, and the application of knowledge to help people. Many academic specialties engage in the discovery, analysis, and application of sexual information. Of the following disciplines considered throughout this text, listed here in arbitrary order, no one is more important than others.

Sociology

Sociology is a branch of the social and behavioral sciences concerned with the nature of social and cultural norms and problems. Sociologists are generally interested in the trends and traditions of groups of people, as well as the impact of their behavior on society. Sociology is a "big picture" discipline, giving less attention to individuals. For example, a sociologist might study why certain sexually transmitted diseases are more prevalent in certain socioeconomic groups or geographic areas. Social workers, on the other hand, might apply the findings of sociologists when helping individuals.

Anthropology

While sociology deals primarily with social issues and problems in a single society, cultural anthropology takes a cross cultural approach. Multicultural similarities and differences in human sexual behavior are a recurring focus of this book. Sex is a fundamental human drive affected by society and other factors; different societies have different ways of giving form and direction to sexuality. Sexual behaviors and traditions that seem barbaric or abhorrent in one culture may seem normal and acceptable in another. For example, human rights and women's organizations throughout most of the world have condemned the practice of female circumcision in some societies and criticized its brutal physical impact on women and their potential to enjoy sexual intercourse or any pleasurable genital sensations at all. On the other hand, one anthropological perspective claims it is inappropriate to judge this custom in some cultures by the standards and norms of other cultures, even if it seems cruet and painful. Figure 1-2 is an illustration of female circumcision.

Psychology

Psychology is a variegated and diverse discipline difficult to describe with a single definition. Basically, psychologists study individual organisms (both human and nonhuman) to figure out what behavior is normal and predictable. "Behavior" is broadly defined and refers to observable actions as well as subtle, invisible cognitive, neural, or endocrine activities. Organism-environment interactions are a primary focus for psychologists. There are several different kinds of psychologists, many which study various aspects of human sexual thinking, feeling and behaving. For example, biopsychologists are primarily interested in the relationship between behavior and neuroendocrine activity. Clinical psychologists study the development and manifestations of emotional and behavioral problems well as their diagnosis and treatment. Some clinical psychologists, social workers, and other professionals specialize in sex therapy-the assessment, counseling, and treatment of sexual dysfunctions. Developmental psycholoists examine behavioral changes that occur over time as we age, some focusing on children and others on adolescents, young adults, or aging and elderly individuals. Personality psycbologists study consistency and predictability in human behavior, usually over long periods of time. Social psychologists explore how our complex interpersonal environment affects our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Figure 1-3 shows two psychologists working in very different settings, yet both strive to Understand the relationship betvveen environmental stimuli and human behaviors and feelings.

These three broad disciplines -- sociology, anthropology, and psychology -- share the concept that human growth, development, and behavior should be viewed as an interactive process: private, psychological, and societal factors work together to influence the many manifestations of our emotional, cognitive, and physical functioning. This psychosocial approach is important for the understanding of how people's sexual learning and behaving begin to emerge...

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Interviews & Essays

Exclusive Author Interview

Barnes & Noble.com: How is it you came to coauthor a textbook on the subject of human sexuality?

Dr. Sanford Lopater: I have taught a university-level course in human sexuality over the span of almost 30 years. My background and training are in experimental and physiological psychology. I have always been interested in the relationship between the nervous and endocrine systems and behavior. Human sexuality is only a logical extension of these interests.

I began working on this project because there was the unique opportunity to supplement my scholarly, didactic background in higher education with Dr. Ruth's enormously diverse and interesting clinical training, practice, and experience. We have worked together on every feature of the manuscript and art plan and believe that we have created a wonderfully engaging, serious, comprehensive text that is very easy and entertaining to read.

B&N.com: How is this textbook different from others used for "sex education"?

SL: I believe this discipline can most meaningfully be taught (and learned) from an explicit psychosocial perspective. While our sexuality has its explicit biological aspects, the meaning of sexuality to the individual, their relationships, and within the broader society requires a clearly "nested" approach in which each of these perspectives is encountered successively by the reader.

Apart from our explicit psychosocial approach, our book has a number of features that set it apart from a number of human sexuality textbooks. Every chapter includes a feature called "Other Countries, Cultures, and Customs." The reader will certainly be surprised and intrigued to read about sexual customs, behaviors, and norms throughout the world. While other texts include features such as these, ours is one of the few that includes them throughout the book.

Chapter features called "Research Highlights" focus on a single study from the primary literature and aim to explain and analyze the implications of basic research for its importance to the average person.

"Dear Dr. Ruth" features are included in every chapter as well. These present a variety of letters and questions that Dr. Ruth has received over the course of her career, along with her informative, sensitive responses to each one. They offer reassurance to readers who wonder about the "normality" of their own concerns.

A number of "On the Lighter Side" features are also included offering many humorous highlights that offer both information and brief diversion. These segments reinforce the notion that sex is not always such a serious subject and that there is much that is genuinely funny and tasteful about sexual issues and situations.

Ours is the only book on the market that devotes an entire chapter to sexual expression in illness, disability, and convalescence -- these need not rule out the enjoyment of sexual expression.

Finally, one entire chapter focuses entirely on the reader's personal sexual and reproductive health and wellness. Dealing with the importance of early detection and treatment of health problems, our emphasis in this chapter is on informing readers and encouraging them to take greater responsibility for their own care.

B&N.com: Did you add any features to the text designed specifically for the student?

SL: Every chapter of our book begins with a list of learning objectives. All technical terms are printed in boldface type, listed at the end of the chapter and fully defined in a complete glossary at the end of the book. All chapters conclude with a number of learning activities, definitions of key concepts, and suggested readings.

Perhaps the most important and compelling feature of our text is its art plan. We felt from the outset that a strong, engaging narrative must be supplemented with images of tremendous visual appeal. Almost 600 illustrations depict sexual subjects and issues more clearly than any human sexuality textbook today and offer the reader the opportunity to visualize sometimes complex concepts and procedures.

B&N.com: Do you see more or less emphasis in college curriculums on human sexuality as compared with, say, 10 or 20 years ago?

SL:Human sexuality is taught on a tremendous number of campuses across the country. Community colleges, colleges, and universities all routinely offer this course on a regular basis. When I began teaching this course in the higher educational setting in 1974, there were only a few textbooks available. Today there are almost a dozen -- still less than many college courses -- but new books become available every year, and the level of student interest and demand grows commensurately.

B&N.com: Do you think there are particular attitudes an instructor needs to bring to the classroom?

SL: I've always believed that one good attribute of college instructors is the ability to convey their deep concern and curiosity about the things they don't understand. I think that students are motivated when they see their instructors grappling with difficult questions and not being able to readily find answers. Plainly, a nonjudgmental approach to the subject matter is essential, as is a commitment to reading the primary literature in this discipline. Finally, I believe that a human sexuality instructor must also be an astute student of today's youth: their preoccupations, anxieties, and fears as well as their joys, goals, and dreams.

B&N.com: How about the students who will be using this book: what can they bring to the classroom that will allow them to get the most out of the text?

SL: Your question is a good one. More so than in other college courses, I feel that a student would benefit by seeing a course in human sexuality as a "life skills" training exercise. The ability to communicate well, share vulnerabilities with one's partner, and explore emotional and physical intimacy do not just happen. A course in human sexuality offers the student a comprehensive, systematic, and critical approach to something they frequently find very mysterious or enigmatic and they must feel "ready" to study a subject which in the past was thought to be "too personal," or "highly sensitive."

B&N.com: And what have you learned from this writing experience? What has been the most difficult? The most surprising? The most fun?

SL: I think that the most challenging aspect of this writing experience has involved "casting our net" wider than most authors of human sexuality college textbooks. Our intent from the outset was to include highly relevant, new content, and in order to do this we had to explore a large number of previously unexplored sources of information. We decided to thoroughly research the relevant primary literature in anthropology, law, ethics, public health, pharmacology, history, and even television broadcasting.

Perhaps the most surprising part of writing this book has been the discovery that sexuality has always been a central theme in the intellectual and artistic life of humankind. Despite the explicit suppression of sexual information throughout much of modern history, it has been intriguing to see how comfortable historical races and cultures have been with virtually all avenues of sexual expression. While I have certainly been aware of this issue throughout my career, working on this manuscript has given me the gratifying opportunity to explore it in an organized way and to share its fascinating examples.

The most fun? That's easy. Working with Ruth Westheimer has been one of the most refreshing, renewing professional experiences of my life. Ruth's memory is really encyclopedic, and her ability to recall facts and details is astonishing. I have been truly impressed (and humbled) by the breadth of her reading and the enormous variety of her applied professional experience. We have a wonderful, mutually supportive colleagueship and esteem each other highly.

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