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Freedman, A. (1990). Sexual Desire Disorders edited by Sandra R. Leiblum and Raymond C. Rosen New York: Guilford, 1988, xxii + 470 pp., $35.00. Psa. Books, 1(3):317-324.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Books, 1(3):317-324

Sexual Desire Disorders edited by Sandra R. Leiblum and Raymond C. Rosen New York: Guilford, 1988, xxii + 470 pp., $35.00

Review by:
Abraham Freedman, M.D.

The aim of this book is to separate out for special study those sexual problems which are not due to difficulties in performance but which are manifested as changes in sexual desire. The authors are well-known therapists, teachers, researchers, and authors in the field of sexual disorders. The special problem of disorders of sexual desire was first described in 1977 by Harold I. Lief, who has written the foreword, and Helen S. Kaplan. Although the term “sexual desire disorders” could refer to either too low or too high a desire, most of this book deals with impaired or too low sexual desire. Sexual desire, like beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder.

The editors introduce the nature of the problem and discuss the concept of sexual desire and the difficulties of studying it as compared with other sexual research. For example, overt sexual behavior can be measured statistically, as was done by Kinsey, and sexual response can be measured by observation techniques, as was done by Masters and Johnson. The study of impotence is facilitated by the availability of apparatus and techniques that can measure the erectibility of the penis, but there are no objective measures for sexual desire. It is purely subjective. It cannot always be considered a function of the patient who presents, because sexual desire is usually a relative matter between two partners. What could be called impaired sexual desire in one person might mean only a greater desire in the partner. Therapists would seldom see anyone who has absolutely no sexual desire, because the fact that they are consulted means that the person is dissatisfied with his state of sexual desire and has some desire to alter it.

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