Sexually Dsyfunctional, or Sexually Defunct?


So as I was sitting in my Intro to Abnormal Psychology class, eagerly listening to my professor give his lecture on sexual dysfunctions. Yay! Okay, honestly its a nice change from dry empirical biochemistry and bullshit. Mental disorders are all categorized and filely neatly away in the latest version of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fondly referred to as DSM IV-R, a book whose new diagnoses and disease creations (and eliminations) have further widened the gates to neurochemical phenonmenon and linked arms with the pharmceutical industry, basically: EVERYONE TAKE DRUGS.
The sexual disorders are a recent addition to the book, making its debut in DSM III in 1980. Just to give you an idea of the way they describe these disorders and justify their diagnoses, heres the full definition for Female Orgasmic Disorder:

“Persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase. Women exhibit wide variability in the type or intensity of stimulation that triggers orgasm. The diagnosis of Female Orgasmic Disorder should be based on the clincian’s judgement that the woman’s capacity is less than would be reasonable for her age, sexual experience, and the adequacy of sexual stimulation she receives.” (DSM IV 302.73)

Right. So the description acknowledges that women can experience orgasm in a multitude of ways, hurray! -Oh but wait, someone else actually gets to decide whether her orgasm is good enough? Last time I checked, I, the woman experiencing the orgasm, knows whether my orgasm is good enough- thank you. Ultimately, this psychiatric bible is determining what a normal orgasm should be like for women, and (big surprise) men too. Except I find the male one even more infuriating. Not only does the description ignore the reality of variability in experiencing a male orgasm, but it also assumes that all males’ should be able to get off “following a normal sexual excitement phase during sexual activity” (DSM IV 302.74). Seriously, I’ve known guys who can only get off (in the ‘normal way’) if they have their nipples sucked or during simultaneous anal stimulation- and I doubt thats the normality that psychiatrists are referring to.

To say the least, I’m not impressed.

Now, just to make this clear, I am not in any way trivializing people who feel they have sexual problems (hah, don’t we all). What I’m critiquing is the wholehearted weight put on the clinician’s judgement, rather than self-report from the person themselves; as well as the preassumptions that orgasms are necessarily acheived by these simple standardized plug and chug formulas.
On another note, I am highly suspicious of a controversial issue that arises with the creation of new disorders, namely how many people think they have these disorders as a result of heavy mongering by one track minded pharmceuticals, whose fat vats of profit have been the financial backbone of much research and studies. And of course, these are the same studies that claim existence of disorders like Sexual Dysfunctions, and then go on to publish in the latest DSM. Just some food for thought.

And the cherry to top off this pile of shit, we’re paying pharmacies so much for drugs that don’t really work. Take Viagra for example. More than 50% of men who are prescribed Viagra never re-new their prescriptions. Why? When you’re feeling nice and horny, your brain stimulates the release of a chemical called Cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cyclic GMP), which causes muscles in the spongy erectile tissue of your penis to relax- and the arteries to expand (Pihl 8). What Viagra does is block the enzyme that takes up cyclic GMP, which in turn changes the arterial flow going to and from your penis; blood is not taken up and the erection remains. So Viagra doesn’t actually change your sexual desire, it only maintains your erection: you have to get an erection first in order to maintain one. Looks like we’re back to base 1. Damnit.



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