The reason why this read is so compelling to general-interest audiences (and even those who may have little prior interest in science, in general) is because the essay form, combined with Rebecca Coffey's background in journalism and general-interest science writing, makes for a winning combination when it comes to crafting a nonfiction thriller..... Any reader interested in human sexuality who eschews the normally dry scientific study on the matter will relish this absorbing read which puts the 'lively' back into matters and draws direct connections between modern sexual activities, dilemmas and questions, and the latest scientific findings.--Midwest Book Review
How does Rebecca Coffey do it? I read Science and Lust in one sitting, as if I were savoring one appetizing morsel after another, enough to leave me magically both sated and wanting more. I learned answers to questions I’d never thought to pose (What is the impact of polyester on sex drive? What is the advantage for men of having facial scars?), and plausible answers to ones I’d often mused over (Why is the color red so important? How critical, among married heterosexuals, is male height for female sexual desire?). And because Coffey returns us again to Freud, to his daughter Anna, and to their intimate conversation as he—in complete violation of his own rules and orthodoxy—analyzed her on his couch, while developing his theories of penis envy and femininity and homosexuality … well, you can imagine, the plot thickens and inspires intrigue. Aroused? Dip in and enjoy the feast.—Jill Gentile, psychoanalyst and clinical psychologoist, Associate Professor at N.Y.U., and author of Feminine Law: Freud, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire (Karnac Books, 2016)
The interplay of love, lust, and science can be unpredictable. Even the most absurd experiments can yield fascinating results. In Science and Lust, by Rebecca Coffey, one sees that when expectations go awry, with a sense of humor one might have a good laugh and a good story to tell. What does this little gem hold? To name just a few: An experiment of polyester clad mice, historical research on red hot lips, Anna Freud psychoanalyzed on her father's couch, and how to improve your sex appeal. The chapters are layered and laced with fun-filled facts, information and an extensive bibliography. It is a gift to all who appreciate solid research portrayed in breezy, page-turner fashion.—Rita Watson, journalist and Associate Fellow at Yale’s Ezra Stiles College
With wit and verve, Science and Lust makes a significant contribution to the literature dedicated to our need to understand what it means to be sexpositive. This book discusses pornography, lesbian love, masturbation, and illuminates an elegant rebuttal to Freud’s perspective on Civilizations and its Discontents. And much much more. Highly recommended.—Marty Babits, LCSW, BCD, Author of I’m Not a Mind Reader (HCI Books, 2015) and The Power of the Middle Ground (Prometheus, 2008)
A collection of essays explores the oddities of sex appeal.Most of these 12 pieces originally appeared in psychologytoday.com's "The Bejeezus Out of Me" column. Science journalist Coffey (Hysterical: Anna Freud's Story, 2014, etc.) is fascinated by fringe science stories and deftly draws attention to research that might otherwise be overlooked. For instance, according to a study in Indonesia, women with tall husbands are happier, perhaps because of the evolutionary lure of a strong protector. Another paper suggests fertile women are more attracted to men who are wearing red. Some surprising trends cannot be explained away by chance: Men cheat more when the wives are the breadwinners and are more likely to suffer penile fractures or sudden deaths during sex when committing adultery. Only 26 percent of women physically match the level of arousal they say they're experiencing, as opposed to 66 percent of men. Norwegian porn is less degrading to women, in keeping with its more egalitarian society. "The Human Ape" is a particularly timely essay, written at the height of the #MeToo movement. Coffey compares the great apes' sexual practices with humans' to suggest that, put in perspective, men's behavior might not be so bad. Yet the author cites a disturbing study in which nearly one-third of male college students said they would force sex if they were guaranteed there would be no consequences. Interestingly, this was at least partially a question of perception—when asked if they would "rape," only 13 percent agreed. Other essays consider partner commitment and females' predatory habits. Coffey's interest in the life of Anna Freud fuels one of the most intriguing and in-depth essays. Sigmund Freud analyzed his daughter even though he recognized therapy can be an "erotic relationship." Initially, the aim was to cure her of her masturbation habit; his work with her also led to his penis envy theory. A few of the shorter pieces feel insubstantial. But the author writes clearly and engagingly, and, as the first and most wide-ranging essay proves, she can bring together everything from the history of kissing to face mites within a handful of enjoyable pages. This offbeat collection should appeal to fans of author Mary Roach.Entertaining and envelope-pushing popular science.