Tag Archives: sex

New Book: Peter Hegarty’s Gentlemen’s Disagreement: Alfred Kinsey, Lewis Terman, and the Sexual Politics of Smart Men

Psychologist and historian of psychology Peter Hegarty‘s book Gentlemen’s Disagreement: Alfred Kinsey, Lewis Terman, and the Sexual Politics of Smart Men, is now in print. Published by the University of Chicago Press, the book explores the relationship between intelligence and sex through an analysis of the work of, and debates between, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and intelligence tester Lewis Terman. The volume is described as follows:

What is the relationship between intelligence and sex? In recent decades, studies of the controversial histories of both intelligence testing and of human sexuality in the United States have been increasingly common—and hotly debated. But rarely have the intersections of these histories been examined. In Gentlemen’s Disagreement, Peter Hegarty enters this historical debate by recalling the debate between Lewis Terman—the intellect who championed the testing of intelligence— and pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, and shows how intelligence and sexuality have interacted in American psychology.Through a fluent discussion of intellectually gifted onanists, unhappily married men, queer geniuses, lonely frontiersmen, religious ascetics, and the two scholars themselves, Hegarty traces the origins of Terman’s complaints about Kinsey’s work to show how the intelligence testing movement was much more concerned with sexuality than we might remember. And, drawing on Foucault, Hegarty reconciles these legendary figures by showing how intelligence and sexuality in early American psychology and sexology were intertwined then and remain so to this day.

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New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The December 2010 issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are nine all new articles. Among the topics addressed in these articles are, James and Durkheim on truth, Freud and Krafft-Ebing on sexuality, and the historiography of sexuality. Additionally, Janet Martin-Nielsen (left) writes of the emergence of linguistics in the United States during the Cold War. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Durkheim, Jamesian pragmatism and the normativity of truth,” by Warren Schmaus. The abstract reads,

In his lectures on pragmatism presented in the academic year 1913—14 at the Sorbonne, Durkheim argued that James’s pragmatist theory of truth, due to its emphasis on individual satisfaction, was unable to account for the obligatory, necessary and impersonal character of truth. But for Durkheim to make this charge is only to raise the question whether he himself could account for the morally obligatory or normative character of truth. Although rejecting individualism may be necessary for explaining the existence of norms, it is not sufficient. I argue that Durkheim never succeeded in providing a full account of normativity. Of course, this is a problem that remains unresolved today. Nevertheless, Durkheim took an important step beyond James in recognizing the insufficiency of his individualist account of truth.

“Sexual science and self-narrative: epistemology and narrative technologies of the self between Krafft-Ebing and Freud,” by Paolo Savoia. The abstract reads, Continue reading

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Who Prevails When Academic Freedom Threatens the Bottom Line?

from Tomb of the DiverPsychologists of a certain age (roughly, over 40) may recall the considerable public controversy that erupted over an 1998 article published in Psychological Bulletin (124, 22-53) entitled, “A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples.” The article, written by Bruce Rind, Philip Tromovitch, and Robert Bauserman, argued against the widespread belief that child sexual abuse is always traumatic and damaging. Instead, the authors wrote that “self-reported reactions to and effects from CSA [child sexual abuse] indicated that negative effects were neither pervasive nor typically intense, and tha[t] men reacted much less negatively than women…. Basic beliefs about CSA in the general population were not supported.” The article drew a storm of protest, most notably from conservative members of the US Congress, who condemn the article and made dark noises about responding to it by pulling funding for behavioral research. The American Psychological Association scrambled in limit the damage while simultaneously trying not to appear to be buckling to overt political pressure (see Scott O. Lilienfeld’s comment in a 2002 issue of the American Psychologist). The article was later heavily criticized on methodological grounds by Stephanie J. Dallam.

The first author of that article, Bruce Rind, is back in the news again because a piece he has written on a related topic, though about ancient Greece, has been refused by two different publishers who, apparently, are not willing to weather the same sort of backlash. Continue reading

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“Homosexuality Conversion” classics fraudulent?

When members of the conservative movement in the US advocate subjecting gay and lesbian people to a putatively psychotherapeutic process that will “convert” them to heterosexuality, they often cite studies published by the renowned sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The “conversion” procedure was outlined in their 1979 book, Homosexuality in Perspective, in which it was reported that of 67 patients suffering from “homosexual dissatisfaction,” just 14 failed to be “converted” by the two-week treatment.

Now, however, there is suspicion that the cases never existed, that they were essentially “made up” by Masters without the knowledge of Johnson or his other colleagues. The allegations are published in an article in the April 22 issue of Scientific American. According to the article’s author, Thomas Maier, who has just published a book on Masters and Johnson called Masters of Sex, Continue reading

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Love for sale in paperback, 1949-present

Harlequin, the world’s largest publisher of “series romance,” is turning 60. Founded in 1949 — when Winnipeg businessman Richard Bonnycastle began issuing paperback reprints of cookbooks, westerns, detective yarns, and love stories — it now ships over 120 titles a month, in 29 languages. With stories ranging from tame to smutty, the publisher’s archive also offers a condensed social history of love and the making thereof.

The first pregnancy storyline arrived in the 1960s. The late ’70s saw a surge of sexual content, partly in response to the 19th-century S&M-fests penned by Rosemary Rogers, a scandalously popular author at rival publisher Avon. Harlequin cover model Fabio, all oiled chest and blond mane, debuted during the excessive 1980s. (The images in which Fabio commandingly clutches an adoring, half-naked woman are iconic examples of what is known in the industry as “the clinch.”) The ’90s saw some retrenchment into recognizably ordinary lives — heroes and heroines were often ranchers, pediatricians and cops in contemporary small-town North America. Increasingly, romances featured blended families, with single moms reconnecting with high school crushes or widowed fathers silently yearning for nurturing nannies. On these covers, the clinch is replaced by the potent hormonal cocktail of a handsome man holding an infant. (CBC.ca Arts)

According to some reports, Harlequin presently sells an average of 4 books every second. The reason? Passion is universal, claims author Shannon Drake.

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Sex Historian profiled in University Affairs

Dr Angus McLarenAngus McLaren has written books about the emergence of the serial killer, medical ethics, abortion, and the history of contraception and eugenics. But it is his most recent works — Sexual Blackmail: A Modern History (Harvard, 2002) and Impotence: A Cultural History (Chicago, 2007) — that led him to be profiled in this month’s issue of University Affairs, 50(3).

“I am always fascinated with the question, why? Why should that custom arise? What function did that form of sympathetic magic serve in society? Why was it believed?” And many times, the questions cannot be answered or understood by us in the modern day without the context of the societal relationships and power structures of the earlier time. “I am always saying the past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.”

It is this approach, and his prodigious publishing record, that led to his winning the prestigious $50,000 Canada Council/Molson Prize. But how did he do it? Continue reading

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Preparing girls for motherhood, c.1930-1970

Angela DavisIn a recent issue of History of Education, 37(5), Angela Davis examines the post-Depression debates regarding the proper behaviour of mothers and, more specifically, the preparation of young girls to take on that role.

This article investigates how girls were educated about sex, pregnancy and childbirth during the years 1930 to 1970. Based on the results of 92 oral-history interviews with Oxfordshire women, it explores how national debates surrounding sex education influenced what girls in Oxfordshire were taught. In addition, it examines how successful the women themselves thought this education had been in equipping them for maternity and whether they believed women could indeed be educated for motherhood.

The result is a fascinating look at the contexts in which many of the contemporary theories of mothering have emerged. (Related readings are provided below the fold.) Continue reading

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Sex & Propaganda in The Psychologist

The latest issue of the British Psychological Society’s flagship journal The Psychologist contains a fascinating article by Herbert A. Friedman on the use of sex in wartime propaganda during World War II. Often the strategy was to drop leaflets from the sky that contained pictures of nude women and/or that accused other men (allied soldiers or those who had evaded military service) of having their way with the soldiers’ girlfriends and wives “back home” while they were on the front fighting. Friedman argues that the strategy usually failed, the leaflets becoming favored keepsakes of the soldiers rather than lowering morale, as intended.

The full article can be found here on the new all-on-line edition of The Psychologist. (Congrats to BPS on this new venture!) Just “flip” to page 84 to find it.

Back in May, AHP posted an item about the website on which this article is based here.

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Freud and the sexual drive before 1905

Sigmund FreudIn a recent article published in History of the Human Sciences, 21(3), Patricia Cotti traces the development of Freud’s “sexual drive.”

A close study of Freud’s use of the terms Trieb, Impuls, etc., allows an insight into Freud’s sources of inspiration, through which I interrogate the importance he gradually granted the concept of drive before 1905. Freud first tentatively introduced the notion of ‘sexual drive forces’, then developed the hypothesis of a ‘communication drive’. There was much hesitancy in his defining the notion of sexual drive. He eventually adopted a concept widely used by psychiatrists at the time, which played a part in the recurrence of an innate — then hereditary — theory in psychoanalysis.

This article is the latest in a series by Cotti, several of which have previously been published in Psychoanalysis and History (2004 and 2008).

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History of Sexual Propaganda

Mind Hacks has alerted me to a fascinating webpage on the history of “Sex and Psychological Operations” in the military. The site was written by Herbert A. Friedman, a retired Sgt. Major in the US Army. It surveys a wide array of attempts to use sexually explicit text and images for propaganda purposes, usually directed at enemy soldiers, running from World War II up to the Vietnam war. Examples from a number of different countries are shown, including Germany, Japan, Britain, Italy, the USSR, Korea, Vietnam and the US.

The website is particularly notable for the large collection of rare illustrated ephemera on display.

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