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Book Review: Why is the Penis Shaped like that? And Other Reflections on Being Human

Title: Why is the Penis Shaped like that?: And Other Reflections on Being Human

Authors: Jesse Bering, PhD

Year Published: 2012

Main Topics Covered: Human, Life, Sex, Genitals

Written for: General Public

Recommended for: Clients, Practitioners

Perspectives taken: Sex Positive, Open-mindedness

Type of Resource: Informational Book

APA Citation: Bering, J. (2012). Why is the penis shaped like that? … and other reflections on being human. New York: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Book Overview:

Jesse Bering, PhD, is a research psychologist and award-winning columnist who has consolidated more than thirty of his most popular essays into his book, “Why is the penis shaped like that? …and other reflections on being human.” The result is an intelligent and often humorous discussion about various taboo and awkward subjects. Bering’s writing is engaging, informative, and full of sexual innuendo, and gives detailed overviews of topics most people are too embarrassed to talk about in person.

Jesse Bering addresses eight different themes about human nature and covers a wide range of topics, from asexuality to semen displacement theory, vaginal and scrotum size, cannibalism, the female orgasm, and the psychology of suicide. He writes about the effect religion has on views about polyamory and homosexuality, and takes aim at the gay-is-a-choice argument. Bering’s eclectic essays take the reader through thought-provoking explorations about whether free will really exists to discussing the virtues of semen and so much more. Everything is on the table and explored with respect.

Rather than getting bogged down in details about each subject, Jesse Bering’s collection of essays intentionally focuses on giving a good overview of the main points of each topic while integrating current research and theory with his own sometimes controversial views. Overall, Bering’s collection is an enjoyable and light-hearted read, suitable for both clients and therapists interested in an often laugh-out-loud overview of the experience of being human.

About the Author:

Jesse Bering, PhD, is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University, Belfast. A former professor at the University of Arkansas, he is the author of The Belief. He has written for Scientific American, Slate, New York magazine, The Guardian, and The New Republic, among others. He has also been featured on NPR, Playboy Radio, and the BBC.


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