History of Sex Surveys: Human Sexual Response Part 4 Conclusions

About the sex survey conducted by Dr. Masters and Johnson in the 1950s on Human Sexual Response, findings on psychology physiology and sex, conclusions.

Survey: HUMAN SEXUAL RESPONSE

Conclusions: The most far-reaching conclusion was that most sexual problems have psychological, not physiological, causes, and can be eased or eliminated.

Public Reaction: Anxious to avoid any hint of prurient interest in connection with their potentially sensational book, Masters and Johnson chose a publishing house with a conservative image: Little, Brown & Co., of Boston. When they published Human Sexual Response (354 pp.) in 1966, they covered it with a plain brown wrapper, directed no advertising at the general public, and released it quietly in the hope that some physicians would buy copies.

All these precautions proved futile. Even before the publication date, a prominent psychoanlyst who had somehow got wind of what was forthcoming, charged that Masters and Johnson had mechanized and dehumanized sex, that their subjects were not typical, and that they had neglected the psychological aspects of sex. A sociologist suggested that a more appropriate title would be "Sexual Body Mechanics," and expressed his dismay that some of the subjects who participated might actually have enjoyed themselves. Another critic charged that encouraging sex among the elderly was "disgusting."

This was just the beginning. Even though the text was virtually unreadable for a layman ("This maculopapular type of erythematous rash 1st appears over the epigastrium"), the book was attacked for encouraging pornography, inspiring venereal disease epidemics, unleashing a flood of bastards upon society, taking the fun out of sex, and ignoring questions of morality, decency, and human values. Thanks to all this uproar, more than 250,000 copies of the book, at $10 a copy, were sold in the U.S. It was translated into 9 foreign languages, and was dealt with in countless magazine articles.

Masters and Johnson were the 1st to admit that their findings were tentative and required further substantiation. The American Medical Association, a bastion of conservatism, lauded their investigation as "a natural and inevitable consequence of changing cultural environment." After the initial shock wore off, more commentary about the work took a positive approach, praising its scientific value. Said a London physician, writing in the Daily Mail: "If we are inclined to regard sexual union as something so sacrosanct that it should not be open to investigation, we should remember that a similar view was taken regarding the stars in Galileo's day."

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