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Book Forum: Textbooks and Handbooks   |    
Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals
RUSSELL EISENMAN, Ph.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2005;162:638-a-638. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.3.638-a
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Edinburg, Tex.

Edited by Stephen B. Levine; Candace B. Risen and Stanley E. Althof, associate editors. New York, Brunner-Routledge, 2003, 473 pp., $104.95.

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The editors have done an excellent job of getting 25 chapters written on a variety of human sexuality concerns. The book is arranged in five parts: part 1, Adult Intimacy: Hopes and Disappointments, has five chapters; part 2, Women’s Sexual Issues, has six chapters; part 3, Men’s Sexual Issues, has four chapters; part 4, Sexual Identity Struggles, has four chapters; and part 5, Basic Yet Transcendent Matters, has six chapters—on sexual side effects of medication, effects of illness on sex, professional-client boundaries, drug abuse effects on sex, and other matters.

The chapters have been written in a clear style with serious professional standards, but they are not written in a difficult-to-read manner. Thus, many mental health professionals will be able to learn a great deal about human sexuality issues, including technical material, even if they do not have advanced training in research or physiology. This was a very smart move by the editors and makes for a very readable book that, fortunately, does not sacrifice quality. Too many books are so technical that only those familiar with the field can understand them.

The topics covered include sexual dysfunctions as well as problems and worries that do not reach the level of an officially diagnosable sexual disorder but affect thousands. Other areas such as intimacy, infidelity, painful sex, facilitating orgasmic responsiveness, the sexual impact of menopause, rapid ejaculation, and sexual trauma are discussed. Thus, the chapters cover a wide range of sexual issues, not all of them psychiatric problems, although many are. This makes sense because it is good to see different sides of sexuality, not just the problems that people present in psychotherapy.

All in all, this is an excellent, readable book dealing with many important topics in the area of human sexuality, especially areas that might be of interest to mental health professionals. This will be a highly useful book for professionals, both those who wish to learn more and those who may have been turned off by overly technical discussions of sex that are hard to follow. Note, though, that this is not a simple or watered-down book. It is just one in which the authors write well and clearly and explain things the way they should be explained. A great accomplishment.

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