Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

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pretzelboy
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Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby pretzelboy » Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:04 pm

As I would imagine that almost everyone here already knows, there's a group of AVENites in dialogue with the people working on the sexual dysfunction in the DSM-V. I'm curious how people in the asexual community tend to think about this.

I've seen a good deal of misunderstanding (and understanding as well) and was just curious about what various people thought. Have people had experiences with therapists in which this came up? Have people had experiences in classes where this was relevant?

Since I'm starting this thread, I'll go first.

After identifying as asexual, I decided to take the human sexuality class at my university to learn more about the subject. I didn't really like the class very much (the instructor thought that sub-Saharan Africa was a country, if that gives you any idea.) When we learned about sexual dysfunctions, we learned about this HSDD. On the final, there was a question about a male who that this girl met and she liked him, but he wasn't interested in sex with anyone. What sexual dysfunction would we diagnose him with? Did do you the part about distress in there? Didn't think so. There are also subtexts to this question that should deeply scare me more and more as I think about it. Typically HSDD is discussed within the context of a relationship that both people feel should involve sex, not for pathologizing people who don't feel they're ready for it. Asexuality was never mentioned in the class, so the only concepts that an asexual person who had never heard of the subject had heard were sexual dysfunction and erotophobia.

I've posted this in this forum because I expect that this topic will prove to be hugely significant in the future in how asexuality is presented in the media, in classes, etc.

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ghosts
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby ghosts » Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:57 am

I never was able to take a class on human sexuality in college. I did take a couple of psychology classes, and asexuality was never mentioned when other sexualities were - but of course, HSDD was. I think the class I'm thinking of was Social Psychology... I probably have the text book around somewhere.

But anyway, in the definition, I'm pretty sure it was stated that it was a disorder if it caused distress. *Either way*, that's not incredibly useful to a potentially asexual person if these are the only concepts that they've come across & might relate to in some way.

However, I did have a class on queer studies. Asexuality was not in the syllabus at first, but thanks to my awesome teacher who listened to me when I brought it up to him outside of class, he added it to the syllabus towards the end of the semester - there wasn't much assigned reading for it except to take a look at AVEN & to read an article (I can't remember which one at the moment). It was pretty rad, & a pretty positive experience for me.

So... I'm not sure if this is the kind of response you're looking for?

pretzelboy
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:33 pm

Yeah. That's more or less what I was looking for. I'm just kind of curious what people learned about asexuality, about HSDD etc. in school.

And in some interesting news, ABC News: Asexuals Push for Greater Recognition. They just did an article about us with respect to the DSM. Hopefully, this will help generate more interviews.

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Dargon
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby Dargon » Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:29 pm

I took a couple psych courses in college (intro to and abnormal), and HSDD was discussed. My professor was of the belief that this, as well as a few other disorders (schizoid personality disorder for instance) aren't really disorders because they don't necessarily cause distress. He explicitly mentioned that people with these disorders are often OK with it and live happily, even without "treatment."

He also mentioned that psychology is still a young science, so the DSM is far from perfect. I hope HSDD is at least modified to say that it's only a disorder if it causes distress.

pretzelboy
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:03 pm

In a paper titled "Proposal for Changes in Diagnostic Criteria for Sexual Dysfunctions," the primary author of which is currently the chair for the sexual dysfunctions workgroup, it was argued that the distress criteria be removed from the sexual dysfunctions. Supposed this isn't a problem because the thing about distress will technically still be in there in some verarching sense. The arguments he gives actually don't make any sense. If the distress requirement is still there--just far away, removing it hasn't done anything (and thus all his arguments for removing it become invalid.) And if it's not there anymore, you have to acknowledge that you're declaring lots of perfectly happy, functional people disordered.

What seems to be the case, is that the goal is to move it far away so that it can be more easily ignored, while still keeping it around somewhere for the purpose of DSM politics.

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ily
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby ily » Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:40 pm

I never learned about asexuality, or sexuality at all, in school. The closest I ever got was a class called "Gender, Body, and Religion" (I was a theatre major/religion minor). I think my college only had one sexuality class. (After I graduated though, a friend told me she gave a presentation on asexuality in that class!) I did take a psychology class in high school, but I can't remember sexuality being mentioned. I think therapists could definitely be great allies for us, but we have to target them selectively. I gave a lecture once with DJ and some other AVENites to a local group called Gaylesta, which is a coalition of queer-friendly therapists. They seemed open-minded and glad to have the information. After the presentation, an older member of the group, who was a lesbian, told me how much she appreciated the talk because she'd had the same experience we had, of trying to fit in with a society that had expectations that didn't interest us. I think older gay people are one of the groups that can relate to us best. They remember what it's like to feel like they're the only ones of their kind.

Thanks for posting that ABC article-- I'd heard about it, but hadn't read it. It's not bad (ha, my expectations are so low). It's funny that Schwartz says that "asexuality is not appropriate to declassify" when it's not asexuality that's classified in the first place, it's HSDD, isn't it. "Deprived partners" got a chuckle of indignation from me as well...oh noez! :roll:

pretzelboy
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Mar 27, 2009 7:20 pm

Our DSMing is done (for now, at least.) Our stuff has been turned in, and unless they want to contact us about it, we're pretty much done. Yay!

edit: For those who are interested, I've posted a history of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, giving context for the asexual community's advocacy for a more ace-friendly version in DSM-V.

clouded_perception
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby clouded_perception » Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:12 pm

Isn't there supposed to be some sort of rule of thumb in psychiatry that says "if it doesn't cause undue distress, it doesn't count as a disorder"? (I hope so... this is the basis of my standard "I don't have OCD" explanation...) But I guess people are people and there'll always be a few overenthusiastic psychiatrists.

pretzelboy
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Re: Our favorite big grey book of psychopathologies

Postby pretzelboy » Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:32 pm

Yes. They do, but they didn't used to. And there are some people wanting to get rid of that requirement for the "sexual dysfunctions."