Multifaceted health care

It has long been my belief based on science and clinical experience that we are not at the mercy of our genes. “The psychology of cells” article by Beth Azar (May Monitor) about how environment and attitude profoundly affect health beautifully illustrates this fact. Steve Cole, PhD, and colleagues are making a valuable contribution to health care in a multifaceted way. We need health-care providers of every sort; it’s not about psychologists bashing or replacing physicians. May we all work together for the common good. Now all we need are psychologists to free us from the unfortunate brainwashing that genes are destiny. They are profoundly important, but so are the psycho-social factors that turn them on and off.

Thanks, APA, for a job well done in the Monitor and everywhere else.

Brother Bernard Seif, EdD, DNM
Brodheadsville, Pa. 

Short shrift to current knowledge of orgasm

I was disturbed to read the “Understanding orgasm” article in the April issue. The lack of balance in presenting current knowledge about women’s sexual response in the uncritical privileging of provocative evolutionary investigations is not what I expect from this publication. A fundamental principle of the scientific method is to account for other explanations for interpretations and claims. To continue to present an assumed normative link between reproduction and sexuality, as is embedded in this article, and to give such short shrift to cultural explanations for women’s negotiation of their sexuality, conveys a problematic message to readers.

It was not long ago that women learned they did not have to worry about having vaginal rather than clitoral orgasms. It is indisputable among sexuality researchers that culture and hegemonic norms play a vital role in organizing human sexual experience. Rather than raising questions demanded by new reproductive technologies and the multiplicity of contexts in which women (and men) seek and find or do not find sexual pleasure at this moment in history, that this article forefronts the titillating idea that women are wired to “fake it” is irresponsible at best. One difference between women and fish that was completely absent from this account is the role of discourse and silence in how women (and men) learn to make sense of their bodily responses that many other psychologists have documented.

Deborah L. Tolman, EdD
New York City

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