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Customer Review

on August 2, 2010
NY psychologist writes book on sex to gain attention for herself and her practice. No quantitative scientific research. Consists of some quotes from some books she's read, plus some anecdotes drawn from people she's talked to, plus a lot of speculation. Her favorite word seems to be "perhaps," as in "perhaps we are convinced that lustfulness conflicts with maternal duty."

There is nothing in this book that would really help a married couple whose sex life has faded. She suggests role play, like pretending the wife is a prostitute. Yawn. She also suggests pornography. In his book "In the Shadows of the Net," Patrick Carnes, with 25 years of experience in the field, warns that many people get so hooked on porn that they lose interest in their mates. Fantasy and porn not exciting enough? Perel suggests the discrete affair, open marriage, swingers clubs. No mention of the risk of herpes, hepatitis, AIDS, etc. And for every anecdote that she has on extra-marital sex helping a marriage, I dare say I have heard ten about its having the opposite effect. Not that I have any actual numbers, but then I'm not writing a book. Dr. Perel doesn't back up her pronouncements with any hard data.

On 9-24-10 at the annual conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, plenary speaker John Gottman, mentioning Esther Perel by name, said that her idea that emotional distance makes for better marital sex is contradictory to his findings. Now at the University of Washington, he has been doing research with married couples since 1980.

On 5-20-11 at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, I asked Terry Real whether too much intimacy could be boring, whether it was important to keep mystery in a marriage. He recognized that as Perel's idea and said that while he likes her as a person, he totally disagrees with that idea. He says intimacy is the great turn on, the pearl of great price.

Lori Brotto, a psychologist in Canada, is doing serious research on lack of desire, and is getting good results with treatments based on mindfulness, one thing in the moment. She has published articles, but no book yet.
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