Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life

Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life

By:  Nan Wise

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A sex therapist and neuroscientist describes anhedonia, the inability to feel a satisfactory amount of pleasure—and provides the pathway back to fully enjoying sex, food, time with family and friends, and other pastimes, while also staving off depression, anxiety, and addiction.

Assaulted with opportunities for pleasure everywhere—from sex to food or exotic escapes—our culture is becoming more depressed and anxious. Research has shown that many people are having less sex, and that those who do have a lot enjoy it less. For more than thirty years, Nan Wise has worked as a therapist helping people gain a satisfying sex life. In recent years, her work has shifted to the study of anhedonia—the inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable—and why more people than ever suffer from it.

In Why Good Sex Matters, Wise not only reveals the fundamental problem in how we think about sex and pleasure but also how we arrived at this problematic relationship to begin with. This fascinating book helps us reclaim our innate capacity for joy, fun, exuberance, curiosity, and humor, while showing how reaching our sexual potential makes us smarter, happier, and more productive people. Ultimately, it reveals how a new understanding of sex can lead to a more expansive experience of pleasure in all aspects of our lives.

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  • Format: Hardcover

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9781328451309

  • ISBN-10: 1328451305

  • Pages: 272

  • Price: $28.00

  • Publication Date: 01/28/2020

  • Carton Quantity: 12

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Author

Nan Wise

Dr. Nan Wise is a cognitive neuroscientist, professor, licensed psychotherapist, certified sex therapist, board-certified clinical hypnotherapist, and certified relationship specialist with three decades of experience. After almost twenty years in clinical practice as a sex therapist, she became driven by an intense desire to understand how the brain operates to create moods and behaviors in relation to sex and other aspects of human experience. Returning to academia in 2009 to pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at Rutgers-Newark, she is now Associate Research Professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Newark. She lives in West Orange, New Jersey. 
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  • reviews

    “Lively, enriching, and eye-opening, Why Good Sex Matters will be the book all of your friends will be talking about.” —Kayt Sukel, author of This Is Your Brain On Sex and The Art of Risk 

     

    “Much more than about just sex, this is a book about Pleasure (with a capital P!)–where we seek it, when we crave it, how our brains process it–and, importantly, why we are in dire need of more of it. For anyone who is feeling burnt out, joyless, anxious, depressed–for anyone who is seeking yet somehow not feeling satisfied–this is essential reading to reclaim and revitalize yourself with the pleasure you need and deserve” –Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT, author of She Comes First 

     

    “Dr. Nan Wise brings a rare dual professional expertise in neuroscience research and clinical psychotherapy sexuality practice to this groundbreaking book. She explains how the "core emotions” in our brain exert profound influence on our sexuality and our emotional functioning–and provides profound yet easy-to-read practical guidance to seek and attain happiness in sex and in life.” –Barry R. Komisaruk, Ph.D., co-author of The Science of Orgasm 

     

    “A relatable, no-holds-barred look at what's wrong with our dating and sexual culture and why, at any stage of life, we don’t have to settle. Pleasure comes in many forms, and Nan Wise explains how and why to go for it.”—Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks:A Manifesto Against Ageism 

     

    “In a world where we have greater access to pleasurable experiences and connections than ever before, it’s shocking how many of us are left feeling unsatisfied. Nan Wise, Ph.D., cuts through the noise to offer science-backed guidance for how we can finally discover our sexual potential.”—Catherine Oxenberg, author of Captive 

     

    "Nan Wise had me at ‘healthy hedonism’ but sealed the deal with all of her fascinating research. In this informative and enlightening book, Wise shows us how to kick life up a few notches."—Mara Altman, author of Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back) and Thanks for Coming: One Young Woman's Quest for an Orgasm 

     

    "Read this book if you want to get the most out of your sex life and experience greater pleasure and satisfaction in your life overall."—Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., co-author of The G Spot and The Science of Orgasm 

     

    Why Good Sex Matters helps us to get back in touch with the sensational side of life—and life is sensational when we focus on the sensations!” —Brad Blanton, PhD, author of Radical Honesty 

     

    “Nan Wise helps readers understand how personal sex issues often reflect an overall negative emotional state and offers numerous ideas that can help them rebalance their emotional lives in ways that can revitalize their sensual pleasures.” —Kenneth L. Davis, coauthor of The Emotional Foundations of Personality 

     

    “An ambitious book, Why Good Sex Matters offers neuroscience that not only makes sense but can lead to practical life hacks and important healing.” —Margaret Nichols, PhD, Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist

  • excerpts
    "Why do you study sex?” 

     

      It’s winter 2012. Having spent countless hours over the previous three years examining brain imaging studies that involve women donating their orgasms to science, including piloting my own study with endless hours in an fMRI machine, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this question. I have presented my pilot data to the Society for Neuroscience at their yearly gathering of twenty-thousand-plus brain nerds featuring a dozen or so special lectures given by the rock stars at the cutting edge of the hottest neuroscience topics. Although other neuroscientists have conducted studies on how the human brain responds to sexual arousal, only two labs have been crazy enough to go all the way and study the brain on the big “O.” The media loved the results of my team’s study, which showed that orgasm was associated with increased blood flow—and therefore more oxygen—to more than eighty regions of the brain. “Have an orgasm instead of doing a crossword,” one outlet wrote, “It’s better for your brain, says scientist.” You would think that people would know more about the sexual brain in general and orgasm in particular by this point, but that is not the case. 

     

      The “female brain orgasm video,” as it has come to be known, had so many hits it crashed the hosting website and went viral (you can Google it for a view). No doubt this video is what got the attention of the Nightline producers and why Juju Chang was now waiting outside my lab, ready to roll her cameras. 

     

      I am mildly agitated at the prospect of having to stop everything to make arrangements for the crew to witness one of our studies, but I am also eager to do the show because I believe we have an obligation to validate the importance of human sexuality—and this gives us the opportunity to show our work to a large national audience. 

     

      So, before we start up the fMRI, I think about how to respond to Juju’s question, “Why do you study sex?” 

     

      This is the same question that I have been asked since I first got into the sex research biz. I’ve been asked this question in my own psychology department by colleagues who seem uncomfortable with our work and who have expressed the opinion that our participants must be “exhibitionists”—the same colleagues who on occasion let little comments, like “Hey, sex maniac,” slip when they bump into me in the hall. It’s the same question I am always answering to justify our work. But, in a way, this question is also my own—it’s what has been nagging at my curiosity over the past thirty years, from when I first began working as a psychotherapist, then a sex therapist, and now as a neuroscientist. I’ve been investigating this question in all sorts of settings because it raises so many issues about happiness, health, well-being, and pleasure, and, yes, about sex itself. Indeed, that’s why I am writing the book that you now hold in your hands. 

     

      The scan fortunately goes well in spite of all the distractions, yielding yet one more orgasm to add to my data. At the end of the clip, there I am in my lab coat, giving my final sound bite. “We live in a country where people are really obsessed about sex and also very hung up about it. I think we need to get over that!” 

     

      Juju seems to agree as her voice-over immediately chimes in, “Our sexual happiness, it seems, depends on it.” So why do I study sex? 

     

      Sex is important for overall physical and emotional well-being. Yet we know less about human sexuality and the brain than we do about possible life in outer space. In fact, until we understand how sex is wired in the brain, we will not fully understand how genitals, especially female genitals, work, how to help people with sexual disorders, and how and why addiction and mood disorders take root. 

     

      Interestingly, this question never came up when I was a sex therapist working privately with women and men on their complications and challenges in the bedroom. Sure, I’d been interviewed by magazines and newspapers, and some of my more interesting cases as well as my approach to sex therapy have been featured in books. But no one ever seemed to ask me why I chose a career focused on sex in the first place. That all changed when I decided to go to graduate school and pursue a PhD in cognitive neuroscience with a focus on sex. 

     

      Why did I want to understand how the brain and sex relate? Really, it all started with a hunch that was formed during my clinical practice as a psychotherapist (this was before I specialized in sex therapy).

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Hardcover

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9781328451309

  • ISBN-10: 1328451305

  • Pages: 272

  • Price: $28.00

  • Publication Date: 01/28/2020

  • Carton Quantity: 12

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