Psychological Perspectives on Sexual Problems: New Directions in Theory and Practice

Psychological Perspectives on Sexual Problems: New Directions in Theory and Practice

Psychological Perspectives on Sexual Problems: New Directions in Theory and Practice

Psychological Perspectives on Sexual Problems: New Directions in Theory and Practice


Sexuality can be seen as a `problem' by many people being faced with media images and popular ideas of `normal' sexuality. Yet, despite critiques of sexology from authorities in psychoanalysis and feminism, sexuality is felt to be a problem for which help is sought.In Psychological Perspectives on Sexual Problems the authors critically examine theories of sexuality, but also link them with current clinical practice. Far from just addressing the sexuality of heterosexual, able-bodied individuals they also widen the horizons of psychology to look at positive, empowering practices with groups whose sexuality has often been marginalised, such as those with learning difficulties, gay men with AIDS and women with eating disorders.This book radically integrates theory and practice and will be invaluable for its positive and enabling perspectives on all sexualities.


Stephen Frosh


Finding a starting point is itself a gendered act, for there is a sense in which all points are masculine, at least once they are symbolised. For ever, it seems, but definitely since Kant (Seidler, 1989) and since the Reformation, the world has been viewed through masculine eyes; masculinity has defined the world. Often, therefore, discussions of masculinity and femininity in terms of behavioural and role differences miss the point, the starting point: they assume the existence of sexual difference and take too little account of its construction. Man is man and woman woman, they suggest, and then set out to describe what they do, not to speculate on how they come to be. Thus the chasm between the sexes is taken as given, the task of investigation is to categorise and control in that way with which we are all familiar, to pin down the flow of differences and make them all reduce to one. Male is male and female female; there is something which is ‘masculine’ and something which is not. Moreover, something else that is important is missed. We look from the outside, distancing ourselves from the sexuality of those we study: male sexuality looks like this, this is what men do - and ugly sometimes it seems, when sexual abuse is the focus. But what does it mean, what is at its centre, what does it feel like to have this possession, this masculine sexual being?

Masculine sexuality and masculinity: these belong together, the former cannot be talked about as distinct from the latter, as a set of behaviours having no bearing on emotion. There is an interior point of view to be uncovered here, a way of exploring masculine sexuality from the perspective of the development of masculine subjectivity: the doing only makes sense in the context of the being.

This is jumping ahead, however. In this chapter I try to set up a few signposts pointing towards the interior view of masculine sexual subjectivity using, as the most developed and challenging set of ideas of this kind currently available, some contemporary psychoanalytic theories. Some of this work will be used to offer an explanatory account of the links

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