On the one hand, Dr. Seymour has reviewed most of the existing empirical data (with perhaps a necessary emphasis on the work...


THE FEMALE ORGASM: Psychology Physiology Fantasy

On the one hand, Dr. Seymour has reviewed most of the existing empirical data (with perhaps a necessary emphasis on the work of Ternan, Kinsey and Masters & Johnson) as well as the psychoanalytic literature dealing with the sexual responsiveness of the female. On the other, he has conducted his own (seemingly numerically restricted) study of a group of young (21-45) middle-class women recruited off his Syracuse University campus, a fact which could well invalidate one of his major conclusions -- namely that ""the more years of education she's had or the higher her social class the more orgasmic she is."" His statements in the opening chapters have the most thrust and will be pursued throughout; they are also the most important ones the study has to contribute: feminine sexual responsiveness is not related to her psychological health or lack of it; her ability to be orgasmic is not threatened by traumatic sexual experiences; nor is it linked with her husband's attributes and traits. The other major contention is that a woman's lack of orgasm is most directly linked with her insecurity re her love object or what Freud (repudiated in many instances elsewhere) called separation anxiety. The many sample tests, questionnaires, interviews, etc. (along with representative excerpts from the subjects) deal with all kinds of physiological responses, orgasm consistency, clitoral-vaginal preferences -- the vaginally oriented woman is more anxious and insecure -- menstruation and reproductive functions, and on. Lesser conclusions: women are as visually aroused as men and are more secure about their bodies; religiosity is not a deterrent to sexual enjoyment; and the greater the consumption of cigarettes, the greater the surrender in bed! On the whole Fisher's study comes up with many more negative findings than positive and at all times it is cautious, indicating the need for further field work, and modestly presented as ""exploratory"" and ""tentative."" Its audience should be almost exclusively among professionals who will determine its ultimate significance.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 1972


Page Count: -

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1972