The Relationship—Dyadic Causes Of Sexual Dysfunctions

Authored by: Helen Singer Kaplan

The New Sex Therapy

Print publication date:  December  1974
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780876300831
eBook ISBN: 9780203727317
Adobe ISBN: 9781135821364


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Sexual Symptoms, like all forms of psychopathology, are the product of the interaction between the individual and his environment. In the past psychiatry has tried to help patients directly by changing them, i.e., by modifying their brain chemistry, their conflicts, fears, guilt etc., and has largely ignored the ecological variable: the sexual system, the relationship to which they are responding. However, study of sexually dysfunctional couples has revealed that the sexual system in which these patients try to function is very often highly destructive and dehumanizing. In fact, for a person to function sexually in such a system, where there is fear, rejection, misunderstanding, humiliation, demand and alienation between the spouses, would be dysfunctional! In such a destructive system it is more functional to become alienated and to withdraw than to engage in sex. Therefore, the emphasis in sexual therapy, apart from and in addition to changing the individual spouse’s conflicts and inhibitions, is to try to modify the couple’s dysfunctional sexual system.

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