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Sex by Prescription (1980)

In Sex by Prescription Szasz discusses two subjects. The first is that area of sexuality with which medicine concerns itself. The second is sex education as it used to be taught in religious circles, and now is taught at schools and universities. Not without sarcasm he notes that pastors and doctors both think that they and only they know how people should amuse themselves, in particular sexually. Pastors derive their authority from God and His laws. Doctors derive their authority by declaring that certain behaviors, of which they disapprove, are illnesses, whereas other behaviors, of which they approve, are healthy. Of course there are physical factors that can cause sexual dysfunction. This does not mean that non-physical causes, which may cause for instance frigidity or impotence, also belong to the domain of medical competence. They are more likely to be solutions that people seek and find for certain problems and tasks in living, so can be understood as expressions of individual life styles.

Modern sexologists and sex educators have an animalistic view of sexuality. The person must be “filled” with stimuli by his partner, and subsequently produces an orgasm. Szasz compares it to the production of feces after receiving an enema. Further they encourage deprivatization of sexuality and sexual relations. They raise the expectation that if people “read the right sex manual, seek the counsel of the right sex therapist, or find the right partner, then they will enjoy unremitting sexual satisfaction, in a loving encounter with another, with integrity and dignity, day after day, year after year, for forty, fifty, of more years. The absurdity of this image is a measure of the absurdity of modern sex education and sex therapy.” (p. 166-167)

Szasz concludes that not only does he oppose state sponsored and taxpayer financed sex education programs and sex therapy, but that he endorses an economic, legal, and political policy that leaves the individual a maximum of freedom to become acquainted with sex and be sexually active. His conclusion conforms with his earlier works. He further concludes, paraphrasing Voltaire (who posited that religion is to theology as food is to poison): “Sexology is to human sexuality what slavery is to freedom.” (p. 157)
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