Thank you, Dr. Renshaw

July 2, 2009
Ronald W. Pies, MD
Volume 26, Issue 7

After a stellar academic career of 44 years, Dr Domeena Renshaw has announced her retirement from Loyola University, where she has been professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences. We are sad to say that Dr Renshaw will also be retiring from the editorial board of Psychiatric Times, on which she has served diligently for many years.

After a stellar academic career of 44 years, Dr Domeena Renshaw has announced her retirement from Loyola University, where she has been professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences. We are sad to say that Dr Renshaw will also be retiring from the editorial board of Psychiatric Times, on which she has served diligently for many years.

As a specialist in sexual and marital problems, Dr Renshaw was founder and director of the Sexual Dysfunction Clinic at Loyola. The author of the book, Seven Weeks to Better Sex (1997), Dr Renshaw is internationally renowned as a scholar of both the physiological and emotional aspects of love and sex. In a recent article, Dr Renshaw observed with her characteristic acuity that “the phrase ‘love is blind’ is a valid notion, because we tend to idealize our partner and see only things that we want to see in the early stages of the relationship. . . . Outsiders have a much more objective and rational perspective on the partnership than the two people involved do.”1

In 1997, Dr Renshaw-who was interviewed for Psychiatric Times-revealed some of the personal experiences that shaped her professional orientation.2 Dr Renshaw was born in South Africa, the only daughter in a family of 4 children. She attended Convent High School, a small all-girls facility. As Dr Renshaw explained, her rearing was “highly overprotected and strict,” with a message that “girls don’t do this, never that, and forget the other.”

Ironically, on her arrival at Loyola, Dr Renshaw was confronted with a population much in need of enlightened sexual counseling and treatment. As she put it in her interview for this journal, “In the early 1970s, the psychiatry department [at Loyola] was sandwiched between gynecology on one side and urology on the other, and we began to get referrals of the anorgasmic ladies from the one side and the impotent men and premature ejaculators from the other side.”

In so many ways, Dr Renshaw has been “ahead of the curve” in the area of human psychology and sexuality. In an article she prepared 13 years ago for Psychiatric Times, Dr Renshaw wrote almost presciently about the promise and perils of the Internet: It will probably be two years before psychiatric literature reflects case studies of Internet impact on persons of all ages. Already fax and e-mail have been helpful links between patient and physician. It is possible that for shy, anxious, lonely patients, the treating psychiatrist might recommend classes on how to use the Internet. It may expand their interactive skills, allow them some pleasurable interactions so they can learn to dialogue (to listen and to reply), to focus and to concentrate, to tease and to laugh. These would be gains and even growth.3 While we will miss Dr Renshaw’s participation on the Board, we suspect she will continue to find time to contribute to the profession in important ways, even as we wish her a well-deserved and lei­surely retirement!

 

References:

1. Cupid’s arrow may cause more than just sparks tofly this Valentine’s Day. Science Daily. February 14,2009. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090214104322.htm. Accessed April 13, 2009.
2. Knowlton L. Specializing in sex therapy. PsychiatricTimes. 1997;14:9. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/50701. Accessed April 13,2009.
3. Renshaw D. Delights and dangers of the Internet.Psychiatric Times. 1996;13:10. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/48911?pageNumber=2.Accessed April 13, 2009.