Thanks to the Medical Center for Female Sexuality for inviting me to join in as a guest blogger. I’m excited to be sharing this page with the talented group at the Center for Female Sexuality.
By way of introduction — I’m an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and practice psychotherapy and sex therapy here in NYC. My blog is my attempt to reconcile my medical, psychiatric, psychological, and sexological selves – sort of a one-man group therapy, as it were. I’m also a guest expert on sexualhealth.com and have lectured locally and nationally on issues in human sexuality. I’m particularly interested in the problems of sexuality in marriage and other romantic partnerships; current controversies regarding the “medicalization of sexuality;” sexual psychology in popular culture; and the diversity of individuals’ sexual selves, particularly between men’s and women’s sexual perspectives.
Bat Sheva felt it might be interesting for Better Sex Blog to be leavened occasionally by the perspective of a male local sex therapist. I didn’t have to be asked twice.
This week, as chance would have it, Bat Sheva and I both had occasion to blog about the same subject: pornography. But our approaches were so radically different that I had to mention it. My post, “Men and Their Computers Alone Together” was prompted by some recent news that high-ranking SEC officials had been surfing lots of porn in the office during the months leading up to the recent banking crisis. I discussed the mischief that online porn can cause for susceptible men. I sent it to Bat Sheva to read, and her response was “I am worried when people are told no porn — ever — because it can get out of control. Looking at porn once in a while might be fun, normal, even a good tool for some men or couples.” Coincidentally, her post from the same day, “What’s the Deal with Porn?” cites research showing that porn might be good for society: that increased pornography use correlates with decreased incidence of sex crimes.
OK, so why would two sex therapists notice such different things in the news, and come at the subject from such opposite perspectives? My guess: She’s worried about women receiving messages that what they may do or want sexually is bad or wrong. Her daily work is to encourage women to free themselves from such negative judgments, in order to become more sexually alive. With men, such negative messages don’t seem to be as much of a problem. But it’s extremely common in my office for a man’s compulsive use of internet pornography to have caused big problems — such as stunting his emotional development, dulling his sexual feelings, and leading to problems in his work and marriage.
Different corners of the world — very different points of reference. At any rate, I’m happy to be here, and I hope we all learn much from each other.
© Stephen Snyder, MD 2010