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Chapter 16: Sex, Friendship, and Love


Part One: Sexual Behavior

Part Two: Sex Disorders and Sex Therapy

Part Three: Different Sorts of Relationships

Part Four: The Art of Loving


Overview of Chapter 16: Sex, Friendship, and Love

Sexuality, friendship, and love have tre­mendous impact on individual lives. These topics relate to the ongoing theme of this textbook, the creative human brain. Sex is how we are created, and many of the creative impulses of humans are directed toward furthering love and life.

We start by examining sexual development and sexual response in adults. This is followed by a discussion of aphrodisiacs and drug effects on sexual arousal.

Next we describe classic and modern research on homosexuality, including attempts to explain homosexuality. There are similarities and also differences between male (gay) and female (lesbian) patterns of development and behavior.

Research on animals shows homosexual partnering in those populations as well. Among many species of birds and mam­mals, homosexual relationships are ob­served at frequencies similar to humans.

The following section concerns sexual disorders such as gender dysphoria and paraphilias. The psychiatric profession increasingly views unusual sexual attractions as preferences rather than disorders, unless they cause distress or threaten harm to others.

Certain common disorders may occur even in good relationships, and there are simple treatments for most of them. Since the the 1970s, people have been able to read about simple sex therapies and treat prob­lems on their own. This made life more difficult for sex therapists, who were left dealing with more difficult problems like those involving relationship issues.

The heading "Different Sorts of Relation­ships" gives us an opportunity to examine friendships, infatuation, and varieties of love. We examine the relationship between sex and aggression and the tendency of early relationships to devolve into pre­dictable patterns during a breakup.

The last section examines mature love between adults. We review Fromm's theory of love from The Art of Loving. Rresearch on long-term relationships reveals factors predicting success or breakups. We end by considering applications of love outside the realm of romance, such as the relationship of people to other living things and life itself.

Related topics in other chapters

Chapter 2 (The Human Nervous System) briefly discusses brain areas, hormones, and transmitter substances related to sexual behavior. In Chapter 5 (Conditioning), concepts from classical conditioning are related to sexual arousal and paraphilias.

Socialization of gender-characteristic behavior is discussed in Chapter 10 (Development). Freud's theory of psychosexual stages is described in Chapter 11 (Personality Theories).

Chapter 14 discusses prison programs in which love relationships with animals are used for rehabilitating prisoners and training animals for adoption or service. Chapter 15 (Social Psychology) discusses factors influencing impression formation and person perception.


Write to Dr. Dewey at psywww@gmail.com.


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