Why Evolutionary Psychology is Necessarily the Ultimate Sexual Science
by Dr. Dale Glaebach
(NOTE: This paper has been posted with permission from the author as a courtesy to readers and is not the work of this website's owner).
Over the course of the last century, the only consistent source of hard scientific research data on the subject of human sexuality (uncontaminated by subjective cultural preferences or misconceptions) has come from the science of Sexology. Indeed, the science was created, specifically, to address the failure of, in particular, American culture in coming to grips with this important range of human behavior from an objective scientific standpoint (most probably due to our well-recognized Puritan heritage of sexual confusion and repression).
If the science of Sexology should be criticized in any major respect, it is for its lack of any grand unifying theory about sexuality underlying its important research findings. Basic sexological research had been rarely theory-driven, with the result that much research was focused on narrow sexual issues which did little to advance a broader and healthier understanding of sexuality important to the average public citizen. As an example, although the Kinsey data and the subsequent Masters and Johnson data certainly shocked the American public, most who read it had the lingering question "What does this all mean?" The sad result was that much of this important research has been forgotten or "swept under the rug" as a mere curiosity or, even worse, treated as some bizarre and inexplicable cultural oddity. (The research results were so troubling to many that, to this day, a concerted strategy has often been utilized to, in effect, "shoot the messenger" rather than deal with the message ----as evidenced, most particularly, by the almost continuous barrage of attacks on the person of Albert Kinsey.) A deep theoretical perspective that would "pull it all together" became a necessity for a broader validation of the science of sexology and its research findings.
Perhaps, in order to address this failure, the Journal of Sex Research (the primary journal for sexological research) did a studied analysis of the various theoretical perspectives bearing on human sexual behavior in general with the express purpose of determining which of these perspectives would be likely to act as a guide for future sexual research (See "Special Issue: The Use of Theory in Research and Scholarship on Sexuality", vol. 35, no. 4, 1998). Of the 23 different perspectives on sexuality surveyed, all the major categories of sexual study were represented; including, but not limited to: Psychoanalysis, Learning Theory, Cognitive Psychology, Life Span Development, Humanistic Psychology, Existential Phenomenology, Postmodernism, Feminist Theory, and Systems Theory. As a result of this studied analysis, the evolutionary perspective “came out on top”. Listed in order of precision from the objective standard of "hard science", the top three entries were: Evolutionary Biology, Evolutionary Anthropology, and (the new "natural science of psychology") Evolutionary Psychology. However, it must be remembered that, although Evolutionary Psychology was the last of the three evolutionary sciences that topped the list, it is the only one that includes an applied therapeutic form: "Clinical Evolutionary Psychology". Thus, Evolutionary Psychology is the optimal scientific perspective for the treatment of all sexual dysfunction.
This should come as no surprise. The very core of evolutionary theory is the passing on of genes in the creation of a new organism. The basis of all evolution, sexual and asexual, is indisputably acknowledged to be “differential reproduction”. There are 2 kinds of reproduction: sexual and asexual. In humans, differential reproduction is manifested by the mating process. Again, genes are passed on in the creation of a new organism through the sexual process of males uniting with females. The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature by Dr. Geoffrey Miller (2000) makes a very strong case for a position with which I am in full accord: that the foundation of evolutionary psychological theory is primarily focused on sex and mating. Human sexuality as being the primary focus of psychology is also in accord with Sigmund Freud's original conception of psychology as being “all about sex”.
As evolutionary psychologist, Donald Symons points out in his seminal work The Evolution of Human Sexuality:
It was, I believe, the complexity of sexual opportunity and constraint in natural human environments that made adaptive a human psyche uniquely informed by sexuality (Symons 1981, 308).It is now, finally, true that there is no more need for Sexology or other “sex science” apart from psychology, given psychology's new evolutionary footing in human sexuality and mating. Evolutionary Psychology is the science of human sexuality.
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