History of Sex Surveys: Human Sexual Inadequacy Part 2 Findings

About the sex survey conducted by Dr. Masters and Johnson in the the 1960s 70s on human sexual inadequacy, findings.

Survey: HUMAN SEXUAL INADEQUACY

Findings: The researchers measured their "failure rate," rather than their successes, anticipating criticism from conservative psychiatrists. Their overall failure rate was 20%.

Premature Ejaculation was, they found, the easiest of the male sexual inadequacies to treat. Of the 186 men treated for this problem, 97.8% responded to therapy, which incorporated use of a simple "squeeze play." (See: Impotence in Dictionary of Sex Related Terms, Chap. 19.)

Primary Impotence--that is, men who have never had an erection that lasted long enough for intercourse--was Masters' and Johnson's "disaster area." In 32 cases, the failure rate was 40.6%.

Secondary Impotence--men who failed to maintain an erection throughout intercourse more than 25% of the time--was overcome in 157 out of 213 cases, a success rate of 73.8%.

Ejaculatory Incompetence (inability to ejaculate during intercourse): 82.4% of the 17 men treated overcame the problem.

Female Orgasmic Dysfunction was successfully overcome in 80.7% of the 342 women treated for this problem.

Sexuality in the Aging: Aside from the need (in some cases) for hormone replacement, complaints were similar to those of the younger patients--but the overall failure rate was higher: one out of 3.

Conclusions: Although sex relationships are frequently distorted or used as the focus for nonsexual problems, Masters and Johnson concluded that sexual function is never destroyed, only anesthetized. The greatest cause of dysfunction, they found, is fear. When that fear is removed, nature takes it course. Most failures were attributed to irretrievably fractured marriages, excessive anxiety, or negative prior experiences with therapy.

Public Reaction: Human Sexual Inadequacy (467 pp.) was published in 1970 by Little, Brown & Co. In the 4 years since the appearance of Human Sexual Response, the "hereand-now" principle had become an "in" therapy, practiced by many progressive analysts; but some purists agreed with New York psychiatrist Natalie Shainess, who charged that "The efforts of Masters and Johnson have opened the door to all kinds of ill-considered research, a direct descendant being one of the research projects done at huge cost in 1968 for the President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography... 23 college students were paid to view pornography daily for a couple of hours over a 3-week period while their penises were hooked up to a contraption measuring the degree of penile expansion." Dr. Shainess blames Masters and Johnson for everything from The Sensuous Woman to "an alliance of industries selling sexual paraphernalia, such as vibrators, dildos, and lotions; and a variety of pornographic gold mines that include newspapers, books, films, and sex shows," even though she acknowledges that the association of their names with these industries has been without their consent. Dr. Shainess can be eloquent; the sex research team has, she said, poured a "pipeline of pornographic sewerage . . . into the vital heart of our life," and "thingified sex."

On the whole, though, professional criticism has been more respectful of the 2nd work than it was of the 1st. Masters and Johnson refuse to defend themelves on their critics' terms. "We don't want to be heroes," said Masters. "The brutal fact is that we left 99.99% of human sexual functioning unturned. We haven't scratched the surface and we're aware of it." He hopes to publish a major new report every 5 years or so, and is currently working on homosexual response and inadequacy, sexual effects of aging, and (perhaps most important of all for its preventive aspects) adolescent sexual physiology and inadequacy.

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