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Tribal Sex War

In response to:

Number One from the June 4, 1970 issue

To the Editors:

Re Gore Vidal’s review of Reuben’s book on sex “facts,” let me note the following: The review per se was a justifiably harsh, excellent dissection of this book. As a physician, I am distressed by its crassness; as a psychiatrist I am again embarrassed by a colleague’s acts; as a human being I am angered by its contemptuous attitude toward human beings in distress. (I don’t find his “humor” very funny.)

Re “psychiatrists”: I would beg your reviewer to practice toward this “minority group” the same compassion he so ably preached for others (here, for “homosexuals”). “Psychiatrists” and “psychiatry” are not monoliths. There are differing schools of thought: biological, sociological, mystical, etc.; there are all sorts of psychiatrists: dedicated students, charlatans, dogmatists, speculative mystics, et al. I deplore as much as anyone this messy state of affairs; an editorial in our own Psychiatric News used the phrase “tower of Babel.” Believe me, there are those psychiatrists whose approaches toward human behavior and human suffering exemplify the “Scientific Spirit” at its earnest best; they fully recognize our as yet profound ignorance, our clumsy gropings for “truth.” As one great analyst put it: “After much digging” (several years), he had “only scratched a pin across a continent.”

Re “love”: Neither the book nor the review emphasized this theme enough. Briefly, too many “sex” books of late have emphasized the hydraulics of sex, but have not granted existence to such notions as gentleness, tenderness, concern, etc.; or, as my teen-age girl patient bluntly put it, “I sure can tell the difference between screwing and making love; only making love is really groovy.”

Francis J. Rigney, M.D.

San Francisco, California

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