Copyright © 2011 by James Leonard Park
Books selected and
reviewed by James Park,
existential philosopher and sexologist.
The comments in black are intended to present the objective facts about each book.
The comments in red are the evaluations and opinions of this reviewer.
These books are presented in order of quality, beginning with the best.
1. John Money
Principles of Developmental Sexology
(New York: Continuum,
(ISBN: 0-8264-1026-X; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ21.M733 1997)
John Money presents
a good summary of the themes in sexology
that he has handled in much greater length in his many earlier books and articles.
Sometimes the content of another book is summarized in just one or two pages.
In writing this summary at the end of his long career,
he had the opportunity to make some minor changes
and to express himself more clearly.
But basically, he does not take back the content of any of his previous books.
Thus, this one volume will serve future generations
as a good introduction to the sexology of John Money.
Readers introduced to a particular issue in this book
can pursue that issue more deeply in other books and articles by John Money
—and others writers in the same school of thought.
It is written so well that it merited reading aloud,
which I find true of less than 5% of the books I read.
of Developmental Sexology
breaks no new ground for John Money.
But it does provide up-to-date references to new publications,
many of which were not written when he published his earlier books.
Many of Money's perspectives are not yet accepted by other sexologists.
But he leads the way into an area of scientific investigation
few others have tried.
John Money will be recognized well into the 21st century
as the greatest sexologist of the 20th century.
His theories are not closed and settled dogmas.
In the spirit of scientific investigation,
he maintains an open mind on questions
for which there is not sufficient evidence to formulate a reliable theory.
In many cases he merely introduces the beginnings
of new lines of scientific research into the mysteries of human sexuality.
Here are the
basic themes covered in
Principles of Developmental Sexology:
1. biological roots of human sexuality.
2. development of personality-differences between males and females.
3. development of "lovemaps"—sex-scripts or imprinted sexual fantasies.
4. emergence of romantic love
—and its various manifestations and distortions.
5. varieties of human "pairbonding"—mating, marriage.
6. sexual problems encountered in the teen years.
7. orgasm and its problems.
8. body-image and self-concept.
9. unusual sex-scripts ("paraphilias")—and their problems.
2. John Money
The Adam Principle:
Genes, Genitals, Hormones, & Gender:
Selected Readings in Sexology
(Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1993) 364 pages
This is a collection
of scientific papers
from the second half of John Money's career
as an investigator of unusual phenomena related to sex.
Each paper has a new introduction and abstract,
which often draw on new discoveries since the original publication.
These articles lay the foundations for much future sexology.
Many questions remain unanswered,
but this book should help to formulate the questions more clearly.
Some major themes: female, male, & in-between;
sex-changes; transsexualism; tranvestism; sexual orientation;
& a few paraphilias (masochism, amputee, ants).
sexologists might well begin with the reports in this volume.
The phenomena are here displayed;
next we need well-formulated hypotheses,
followed by careful research to see how well these conjectures hold up.
[Another review of this book
in the Variations of Sex & Gender Bibliography]
3. Ira L. Reiss
An Insider's View of Sexual Science Since Kinsey
(Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield:
www.romanlittlefield.com, 2006) 239
(ISBN: 978-0-7425-4652-3; hardcover)
(ISBN: 978-0-7425-4653-0; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ60.R46 2006)
Reiss bases this autobiography on notes taken
during his more than 50 years of teaching and research in human sexuality.
All phases of these early years of sexology are discussed.
Thru-out Reiss maintains a scientific point of view,
rather than advocating any one preconceived concept of sex.
Even tho sexology has had a rocky start,
often distorted by religious, moral, & political influences,
the future for scientific sexology seems open.
Read the table of
contents to see if this book interests you.
4. Michael Kimmel, editor
The Sexual Self:
The Construction of Sexual Scripts
(Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University
2007) 298 pages
(ISBN: 978-0-8265-1558-2; hardcover)
(ISBN: 978-0-8265-1559-9; paperback)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ21.S4738 2007)
Sexual Self represents
the new paradigm
of the social sources of all things sexual.
The authors see this as a departure from the biological theories of sex.
This school of thought began with Simon and Gagnon's
Sexual Conduct, first published in 1973.
5. Judith Long Laws &
Pepper Schwartz, editors
The Social Construction of Female Sexuality
(Washington, DC: University Press
1981) 243 pages
(reprint of a book published by Holt, Rinehard, & Winston in 1977)
The sexual behavior
of adult women
—dating, marriage, motherhood—
is learned from the culture rather than given by genes.
And each culture socializes its girls to become women
in slightly different ways.
This book offers several different perspectives
on the process of enculturation
by which adult female sexual behavior is created.
The authors are
deeply suspicious that men
have had too much input into the sexual scripts of women.
And feminist women can resist this enculturation
and choose different sexual scripts for their adults lives.
In part because
this book was written in the 1970s,
the authors easily confuse
enculturated sexual scripts with imprinted sex-scripts,
also called imprinted sexual fantasies.
Patterns of 'falling in love', dating, marriage, & child-rearing
are all clearly learned from each culture.
But sexual orientation (being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual)
is imprinted at an early age
rather than learned by example and instruction.
The authors want us to believe that 'choosing a lesbian life-style'
is similar to choosing to be a suburban housewife.
This reviewer emphatically does not agree with this assumption.
in love' with other woman
were not enculturated into this pattern.
Rather their imprinted sex-scripts created their lesbian sexual responses,
which were then somewhat modified
by whatever lesbian sub-culture the women might join.
in the 1970s,
the only factors considered were
nature & nurture.
If homosexuality, for example, was not given by our genes,
then it must be the result of enculturation.
John Money was probably the first to draw our attention to the possibility
that some phenomena arise neither from nature nor nurture.
Such things as male/female self-designation ("I am a boy." or "I am a girl."),
sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual),
and native language are imprinted rather than learned.
During certain critical periods in development,
these parts of the human brain are quickly and permanently set.
learning continues thru-out life.
But this will not affect the imprinted native tongue.
Likewise what it means to be a girl or a boy
will be elaborated within each culture.
Also, the social manifestations of each sexual orientation
will be deeply affected by the culture and sub-culture of the individual.
(If you would like to know more about this sex-script hypothesis,
go to the following bibliography:
In this book,
the authors and other contributors
attribute almost everything to nurture
—to the process of enculturation or socialization.
Hence the subtitle: "The Social Construction of Female Sexuality".
But they also acknowledge that biology has a large influence,
especially at the beginning of each human life.
determine the biological sex of the child:
female, male, or intersex.
The chromosomes and hormones of the fetus direct its development.
girls are encouraged to be interested in 'girl things'.
Boys are reinforced for being interested in 'boy things'.
Girls are taught they will grow up to be women and mothers.
Boys are taught they will grow up to men and fathers.
But most of the learning about sex comes from peers rather than parents,
because the parents often provide a sex-negative environment,
hoping to keep their children in the dark about sex as long as possible.
the standard sexual script for girls and women,
females must be chosen by males.
So they need to make themselves more chooseable.
They must become more attractive to males.
sexual script (according to the authors)
is lesbianism—being romantic and sexual with other females.
The most traditional
sexual script in our culture
tells a female
that she will have only one sex-partner for life—her husband.
And her sex-life will be created in response to his needs and interests.
scripts tell her that she can have sex
if she is 'in love' with the guy.
But such traditions usually do not give much guidance
about what it means for her to be 'in love'.
A few men and
women have tried another sexual script:
sex without love.
In this version, sex is enjoyable in and of itself.
It does not need to be triggered by 'love'
and the relationship need not be aimed toward marriage.
One variation of this sexual script permits
all forms of arousing sexual behavior except coitus,
which is still reserved for a deeply committed relationship.
The new openness
about sex that began in the 1970s or earlier
has enabled women to claim their own sexuality.
No longer are they required to follow
only one prescribed pattern for their sexual relationships.
was long assumed to be inevitable
But in the 1970s many people began seeing motherhood as a choice.
Reliable contraception finally separated sex from procreation.
Some of the other
sexual scripts available in our culture include:
being married and having affairs on the side
(with or without the knowledge and/or approval of one's spouse);
serial monogamy; swinging; group marriage;
communes; prostitution; keeping a mistress or being a mistress.
Each of these has its own formal or informal sexual script.
For example, some swinging groups prohibit
becoming emotionally involved with the short-term sex-partner.
And some group marriages have regular schedules
organizing who will sleep with whom on which night of the week.
Prostitution makes the roles even more explicit:
The man pays for whatever sexual behavior the woman is willing to sell.
Keeping a mistress may be less complicated than marriage:
The man knows that the woman will be available for sex as he wants it.
They do not need to work thru any problems of children
or a common household before they can have sex.
A few other modern
sexual scripts include:
singles cruising; college mixers; singles bars; gay bars.
The people who go to such places to find sex-partners
know the rules and expectations:
They have brief conversation and then decide whether
they want to leave together to have sex.
a good job of summarizing the sexual patterns of its time,
especially from various female points of view.
It does not break any new ground.
And it may now be somewhat dated,
but it stands as a part of the history of sexual behavior in the 20th century.
6. Helen Singer Kaplan
The Sexual Desire Disorders:
Dysfunctional Regulation of Sexual Motivation
(New York: Brunner/Mazel,
1995) 332 pages
(Library of Congress call number: RC560.S46K37 1995)
An experienced sex-therapist draws on her experience
with more than 2,000 clients
to discuss the most common problems people have with sex.
She focuses here more on lack of desire
than the general reader would assume.
Kaplan encourages her clients to go with their sexual fantasies
rather than fight against them—even when the 'turn-ons'
seem immature and out-of-character.
7. John Colapinto
As Nature Made Him:
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
(New York: HarperCollins,
(ISBN: 0-06-019211-9; hardcover)
(Library of Congress call number: RC560.G45C65 2000)
This book is
rather than science.
But it will introduce thousands of people to sexology
who would never have taken the opportunity
to read a more technical book.
the story of David Reimer,
who lost his penis in a circumcision accident at age 8 months.
After his parents saw a television program
featuring sexologist John Money,
they decided explore the possibility of raising their son as a girl.
In consultation with John Money
and other psychological and medical professionals,
they decided to raise Bruce (David's original name)
as a girl (Brenda) beginning at age 19 months.
The infant's testicles were removed at age 22 months.
In retrospect, this might have been too late
to change the sex of a child.
Male/female self-designation ("I am a boy" or "I am a girl")
is probably set—imprinted—by age 18 months,
by the time a child begins to speak.
story is a psychological experiment that failed.
After some troublesome years as a girl, at age 14 years,
when David learned that he was born a boy
(just like his identical twin brother),
he decided to begin living as a male once again.
And as of the publication of this book,
he has lived more than half of his life as a male again.
He married a woman who already had three children,
thereby becoming an instant father.
and a new constructed penis
have helped him to cross the sex-line for a second time.
Psychologically he seems well adjusted to being a male,
even tho he spent his childhood (ages 2-14) as a girl.
Nature Made Him is based mainly on interviews with David,
when he was an adult male in his early thirties,
and as many other people as John Colapinto could find
three decades after the story began.
When depending on recollections years after the events,
it now appears obvious that it was never a good decision
to try to raise David as a girl.
But David might now be remembering mainly the facts
that support his decision to live as a male again.
(In reading the life-stories of many sex-changed people,
we often note that the childhood recollections
almost always support the later decision to change sex.)
Here the adult David Reimer may want to remember
that he was always a boy,
even tho everyone around him tried to raise him as a girl.
However, we do
have some good records from her childhood
that show that Brenda always resisted having a vagina constructed.
She believed that she was a girl, but she did not want any more surgery.
Her sexual attractions (such as they were) were toward 'other' girls.
John Money never responded to this book,
which is highly critical of his role in advising the Reimer parents
to raise their damaged boy as a girl.
John Money is familiar with other cases of failed sex-changes,
in which the individual later decides to go back to the original sex.
In this case, there are three possible explanations for the failure:
months was too late
to try to switch the sex of a child.
If the child has already begun to speak
and has heard itself referred to as either a "he" or a "she",
the imprinting of male/female self-designation might already have taken place.
David Reimer may have had some unarticulated awareness of being a boy
from his life before he was switched to being a girl at age 19 months.
important, his parents and other adult relatives
were already very accustomed to thinking of Bruce as a boy.
Even tho they were all told to treat the new Brenda as a girl,
they knew the truth of his birth as a normal boy
and the circumcision accident which destroyed his penis,
and they may have communicated this family secret unconsciously.
David's father now reports that he knew the experiment was a failure
when Brenda was 7 or 8 years old.
testicles to supply testosterone (the male hormone),
Brenda developed in ways that were remarkably like
her identical twin brother, Brian.
So Brenda's body may have compensated,
still producing a boy, because all his cells said XY,
rather than XX, which is the genotype for a normal girl.
If this was the case, his body was pulling one way,
even tho his socialization was pulling in the other direction.
When David learned
the secret of his birth, he was relieved
—and immediately set out plans for becoming a boy again.
He was given all the necessary hormonal and surgical treatments,
which have helped him to be nearly a normal male as of the year 2000.
All in all,
is a very interesting case study.
But even the author admits at the end
that one case is not a sufficient basis for drawing a scientific conclusion,
John Colapinto was able to convince David Reimer to go public
at least in part because his case was being misused
to show the ease with which children could be raised as either sex.
Now that one
person has been willing to tell the whole story,
others will doubtless come forward with other case histories,
some confirming that nurture cannot overcome nature
and some showing that people can successfully switch
from one sex to the other.
It will be an interesting time for sexology.
Postscript 2004: David Reimer ultimately
killed himself in 2004,
two years after the suicide of his twin brother.
We might never know whether his sex-change problems
were a factor in his decision to end his life at 38.
Send suggestions for
additional books to be included
in this sexology bibliography to: James Park, e-mail:
This bibliography is
related to several others in sexology.
Here is the complete list.
Click any bibliography to go to that list of books:
Variations of Sex and Gender B-V-SG
I. Intersex B-CRIT
II. Transsexualism B-TS
Transsexual Autobiographies B-TS-AB
III. Sex-Roles B-ROLE
IV. Gender-Personality B-GEND
V. Sexual Orientation B-ORNT
VI. Cross-Dressing B-TV
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