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Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life

by Nan Wise

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-328-45130-9
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

The fascinating science behind the intersection of sexual pleasure and brain functionality.

In her debut book, cognitive neuroscientist and sex therapist Wise presents the “culmination of many decades” of scientific study dedicated to sex and its effects on the human brain. Findings from the author’s clinical neurobiological research comprise the first sections of the book, in which Wise reveals how the primal emotional brain and its serpentine circuitry helps to drive our ability to experience joy. In many of her clients, the author recognized a “pleasure crisis,” whereby debilitating symptoms like anxiety, stress, and chronic depression stifle one’s ability to feel gratification. Though addictive quick fixes such as TV and social media have become exceedingly popular, their effects are fleeting, and anhedonia—an inability to experience pleasure—briskly returns to dull the psyche. Wise examines how we arrived at this crossroads by way of our historic ambivalence toward pleasure; while “we are intrinsically sexual beings,” the number of roadblocks obstructing the pathways to true sexual satisfaction increases with age and the complexities of modern life. The author describes our “seven emotional systems” and how understanding them “is the first step to bringing your own brain-body into balance and returning to pleasure.” Wise then introduces patients from her psychotherapy practice whose personal happiness has been hijacked by emotional imbalances and a lack of brain pleasure chemicals such as oxytocin and dopamine, which are released through touch and orgasm. For readers less scientifically attuned, the book’s second half clearly addresses core issues of sex and pleasure through the practices of “good sex tools” (yoga, breathing exercises, etc.) to promote better self-care, erotic empowerment, and a heightened understanding of what role sex plays in our lives. Featuring a harmonious blend of clinical research and relatable instruction, the book will appeal to sexuality specialists and lay readers seeking guidance on matters of achieving pleasure.

A rewarding text steeped in laboratory analysis and thought-provoking, motivating patient-based conclusions.