This Valentine’s Day may serve as a message to Americans…
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
Some people like the halftime entertainment better than the football game itself. Like the game, as I discussed yesterday, the halftime may have meaning below the surface.
Rihanna was the star and sang her hits. However, the big news was confirmation afterwards that she was pregnant.
Given the New York Times guest essay yesterday, she is likely going against a trend, as the article, “Have More Sex, Please!” conveyed.1 Both genders, and perhaps along the gender spectrum, report an escalating pattern of less sex over the last 3 decades. More people are describing themselves as asexual, yet that seems of scant interest to psychiatry.
Going hand and hand with that decrease is the increase in loneliness. Between a third and two-thirds of Americans now report being lonelier, including having less friends.2
Various causes are suggested. Social media is high on the list, despite the paradox of all the “friends” on Facebook profiles. A growing concern about having children is the future of our climate.
Through the influential Freudian theories of his times, psychiatry used to be a profession that focused on sex, including its underlying meanings. Loneliness has received much more attention in recent years, perhaps in part because it turns out to be a contributor to a lowered lifespan and a suicide risk marker for “deaths of despair.”
Sex, though, especially enjoyable sex, has significant health and mental benefits, too. I wonder what, if anything, the day will mean to patients and therapists coming today for therapy. Some of our medications have problematic adverse effects, too.
Maybe Rihanna’s unintentional hidden message was that on this Valentine’s Day, psychiatry should start to once again pay more attention to sex in all its manifestations and meanings.
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.
1. Taylor MJ. Have more sex, please! The New York Times. February 13, 2023. Accessed February 14, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/13/opinion/have-more-sex-please.html
2. Renken E. Most Americans are lonely, and our workplace culture may not be helping. NPR. January 23, 2020. Accessed February 14, 2023. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/01/23/798676465/most-americans-are-lonely-and-our-workplace-culture-may-not-be-helping