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How our notions about sexual behavior and sexuality have been influenced by sexology, from its roots in nineteenth century Europe to Kinsey's research to the current Viagra Revolution

Disorders of Desire

Sexuality and Gender in Modern American Sexology

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Revised and Expanded Edition

Janice M. Irvine

Listen to an interview with Janice M. Irvine from "GenderTalk," 10 September 2005.

"Disorders of Desire provides a significant sociological and historical perspective of the field of sexology. Janice M. Irvine skillfully takes us on a thought-provoking journey into the world of sexology... the book is delightful, informative, and well-written."
Contemporary Sexuality

Disorders of Desire is the only book to tell the story of the development and impact of sexology—the scientific study of sex—in the United States. In this era of sex scandals, culture wars, "Sex in the City," and new sexual enhancement technologies (like erectile dysfunction drugs), its critique of sexology is even more relevant than it was when the book was first published in 1990.

This revised and expanded edition features new chapters addressing:

  • The diagnosis of "sex addiction"in the 1970s and its social and political implications.

  • New developments within the field of sexology, including the "Viagra Revolution" that began in the 1990s.

  • The pharmaceutical industry's role in the development of sexual enhancements and the search for the female equivalent of Viagra.

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Excerpt

Read the Preface to the Revised Edition, Introduction, and the Introduction to Part I (pdf).

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Reviews

"Disorders of Desire remains an excellent history of the sexology movement... [Irving] brilliantly illustrates the tension between sexual science and sexual politics... Disorders of Desire warrants our full endorsement for its arresting contributions to an understanding of sexuality and the history of sexology. This book deserves a place on the shelves of anyone who has a love of history, feminism, gay and lesbian liberation, sexology, and sexuality, as well as anyone who enjoys a thoughtful, well-written work of non-fiction."
Sexuality Research and Social Policy

Praise for the first edition:

"Disorders of Desire...has important lessons for historians generally. In its meticulous documentation of the in-fighting between different schools of thought within the overall (and much beleaguered by external opponents) field of sexology within a fairly narrow time frame, it reminds us that we may similarly be lumping together very diverse interests and agendas under such headings as 'social purity,' 'sex reform,' 'eugenics,'or 'the birth control movement.' ...This is an excellent, readable, thought-provoking study."
Lesley A. Hall, The Society for the Social History of Medicine

"A comprehensive, nuanced investigation... She shares Michel Foucault's interest in tracing the genealogy of our cultural discourses on sex and gender and the assumptions of power hidden within them, but while Foucault paints in broad brush strokes, traversing centuries and cultures, Irvine's study is much more manageable, and, as a result, more convincing."
Arlene J. Stein, American Journal of Sociology

"This deeply perceptive history and critique of American sexology illustrates graphically social historians' conviction that the subject of sexuality can be an important avenue to decoding culture. Irvine's historical focus on the efforts of sexologists to professionalize in the course of the last century is a treasure trove of information that will inform scholars with a wide range of interests. There are some excellent insights... [Irvine's] contribution is most fresh and significant."
Regina Morantz-Sanchez, American Studies

"T]his is a very useful book, one that Irvine rightly describes as a product of a particular intellectual and political moment….Accessibly written, well organized and consistently engaging, this text continues to appeal to a wide audience. It is useful for teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, it will continue to appeal to general readers looking for an introduction to the field, to students of sexology, and studies of sexuality, and indeed for specialists looking to gain further insight into their own practice."
Archives of Sexual Behavior

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Contents

Preface to the Revised and Expanded Edition
Introduction

Part I. The Emergence of Scientific Sexology
1. Toward a "Value-Free" Science of Sex: The Kinsey Reports
2. Science, Medicine, and a Market

Part II. Sexology at a Crossroad: Consolidation and Confusion
3. The Humanistic Theme in Sexology
4. Sexual Science and Sexual Politics
5. Conflict and Accommodation: Who Defines Sexuality?

Part III. The Practice of Scientific Sexology: Sex Therapy and Gender Research
6. Repairing the Conjugal Bed: The Clinical Practice of Modern Sex Therapy
7. Regulated Passions: The Invention of Inhibited Sexual Desire and Sex Addiction
8. Boys Will Be Girls: Contemporary Research on Gender

Conclusion
Afterword
Notes
Index

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About the Author(s)

Janice M. Irvine is Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of Talk About Sex: The Battles over Sex Education in the United States and the editor of Sexual Cultures and the Construction of Adolescent Sexualities (Temple). In 2005, she received the Simon and Gagnon Award from the Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association.

Subject Categories

Sociology
Gender Studies
Health and Health Policy

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