Mary Roach
Author, "Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War"

Mary Roach Psychoanalyses Sex

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The author said Sigmund Freud was no friend of the clit and doesn’t have much currency in sex research.

Mary Roach

Mary Roach grew up in a small house in Etna, New Hampshire. She graduated from Wesleyan in 1981, and then moved out to San Francisco. She spent a few years working as a freelance copy editor before landing a half-time PR job at the SF Zoo. During that time she wrote freelance articles for the local newspaper's Sunday magazine.

Though she mostly focuses on writing books, she writes the occasional magazine piece. These have run in Outside, National Geographic, New Scientist, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as many others. A 1995 article of herse called "How to Win at Germ Warfare" was a National Magazine Award Finalist, and in 1996, her article on earthquake-proof bamboo houses took the Engineering Journalism Award in the general interest magazine category. Mary Roach also reviews books for The New York Times.

Her first book, Stiff, was an offshoot of a column she wrote for Her other books include Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, and Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.



Question: What was the impact of Freudian thought on sex?

Mary Roach: Freud was,well, in terms of female sexuality, Freud was not the lady's friend because Freud...Freud's view was that... that clitoris was a... you know, focusing on the clitoris was a childish thing.  And for women who had not been fully feminized, that once you became fully feminized and a fully realized woman, that the pleasure will transfer to the vagina. So... which is no help to anybody. I don't hear... You know, I don't think I heard anybody refer to Freud. I stumbled on to Freud when I was looking into Marie Bonaparte because she actually, ironically, went on to become a Freudian therapist and had to renounce everything that she'd said about the importance of the clitoris. She did a complete about-face. But other than that whole chapter, I... nobody... nobody even mentions Freud, you know. Nobody mentions Freud.  But again, Freud was...You know, Freud was all about the... in the ego and not so much about the genitalia specifically.      

Recorded on: April 6, 2009