Schnarch, David M(orris) 1946-
SCHNARCH, David M(orris) 1946-
PERSONAL: Born September 18, 1946, in Bronx, NY; son of Stanley and Rose (Gellman) Schnarch; married Ruth Morehouse (a clinical psychologist). Education: City University of New York, B.S., 1969; Michigan State University, M.A., 1974, Ph.D., 1976.
ADDRESSES: Home—Colorado. Office—The Marriage & Family Health Center, Suite 310, 2922 Evergreen Parkway, Evergreen, CO 80439; fax: 303-670-2392.
CAREER: Clinical psychologist and sex therapist. Juvenile Court, Jackson County, MI, director of treatment, 1975; Indiana University, visiting assistant professor of psychology, 1976; Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans, assistant professor, department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, director, adult psychotherapy clinic, and director, psychology internships, 1977-82, clinical associate professor, department of psychiatry and urology, and director, Sex and Marital Health Clinic, 1982-95; River Oaks Psychiatric Hospital, director of sex and marital therapy program, 1979-81. Private practice in clinical psychology and sex therapy, New Orleans, LA, 1977—; Marriage and Family Health Center, Evergreen, CO, private practice. Presenter at conferences and on radio and television; speaker on sexual adjustment; conductor of sexual attitude reassessment workshops. American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (certified; chair, Professional Education Committee, and member of board of directors, 1985-93).
MEMBER: Association of Sex Therapists and Counselors, American Psychological Association, Southeastern Psychological Association, Society of Behavioral Medicine, AAUP, Psi Chi, Phi Kappa Phi.
AWARDS, HONORS: Certificate of Merit, National Rehabilitation Film Competition, 1980; Professional Standard of Excellence Award, American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
Constructing the Sexual Crucible: An Integration of Sexual and Marital Therapy, Norton (New York, NY)), 1991.
Passionate Marriage: Love, Sex, and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1997.
Resurrecting Sex: Resolving Sexual Problems and Rejuvenating Your Relationship, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor of articles to professional journals, including Journal of Sexuality and Disability and Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Contributor of chapters to books.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel, The Intimacy Paradigm.
SIDELIGHTS: A successful clinical psychologist and sex therapist based in Evergreen, Colorado, David M. Schnarch served for many years on the faculty of Louisiana State University School of Medicine in addition to his long-time private practice. He is the author of articles and books about sex and marriage, from the more academic Constructing the Sexual Crucible: An Integration of Sexual and Marital Therapy to the accessible guide for couples with intimacy problems called Resurrecting Sex: Resolving Sexual Problems and Rejuvenating Your Relationship.
Published in 1991, Constructing the Sexual Crucible is a scholarly study of sex therapy theories intended for medical professionals and graduate students. Reviewer Richard S. Wampler, writing in Contemporary Psychology from his role as director of clinical training in marital and family therapy at Texas Tech University (Lubbock), noted, "Schnarch has gone back to the beginnings of theory about sex therapy and started over, reworking theory. It is wide ranging, and along the way, Schnarch weaves a coherent theory of sex therapy in a relationship context." According to Wampler, Schnarch's fundamental argument was that "modern sex therapies and ways of thinking about sexual (dys)function … have become too mechanistic and too biological."
Calling Schnarch "an iconoclast in the tradition of [radical psychiatrists Thomas] Szaz and [Jay] Haley," Wampler delineated Schnarch's dissatisfaction with five current outlooks: the interventionist Masters and Johnson approach to sex therapy, the [Carl] Rogers-influenced ideal of unconditional love, the addiction movement, inner-child work, and the concept of codependency. Some or all of these, Schnarch apparently believes, foster a childlike failure to differentiate. Schnarch also faults Christianity for inculcating sexual dysfunction, though for reasons, Wampler observed, that differ from "the usual." Schnarch blames Greek and Roman pagan influences on Christian sexual views rather than "Hebraic" influences. Wampler found this particularly unconvincing in view of classical pagan sexual practices, which included exploitation by free males of unfree males and of both free and unfree women and children. Wampler's overall assessment of Constructing the Sexual Crucible found it "a comprehensive book about a theory of couple-intervention for sexual functioning." The reviewer recommended Schnarch's book for beginning students in the field of family and marital therapy, asserting that it would leave them "much wiser about sexual therapy theory and couple dynamics."
With the general public in mind, Schnarch distills his approach to sex therapy in Passionate Marriage: Love,Sex, and Intimacy in Emotionally Committed Relationships. In an interview appearing on the FSB Associates Web site, Schnarch says the book does not focus on dysfunction. "Passionate Marriage focuses on helping people reach their sexual potential and have the best sex and intimacy of their lives—within a long-term relationship—even after passion and desire have waned," noted Schnarch. He went on to say that he "talks to people's strengths rather than to their weaknesses." In the book, he says relationships are "people-growing machines" and defines his concept of differentiation as "a natural process in committed relationships that involves developing more of a self while growing closer to your partner." The book includes compelling stories of couples and their sex lives and dramatic therapy sessions.
In Resurrecting Sex: Resolving Sexual Problems and Rejuvenating Your Relationship, Schnarch once again writes for a general audience with a focus on how couples can turn their worst relationship and sex disasters into personal growth. The book is organized into four parts: a crash course in sex; sexual relationships and how they really work; medical options and bionic solutions; vignettes of couples. Schnarch deals with such topics as male erection problems, difficulty reaching orgasm, and low desire. Martha Cornog of Library Journal noted that the self-help guide presents "fascinating and complex insights into how relationships maintain themselves and change while also covering the usual fixes like Viagra and hormones." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented, "While much of his counsel isn't unique, Schnarch's positive, candid approach is appealing, and his tone is authoritative without being threatening."
In an interview with Diane Guernsey for Town & Country, Schnarch explained his theory of sex and marriage counseling this way: "Rather than encouraging couples to 'work on their marriage,' we encourage them to recognize that their marriage is working on them. Going through the natural waning of early desire can teach you who you are and what you really want and need."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Psychology, 1994, pp. 326-327.
Library Journal, July, 2002, Martha Cornog, review of Resurrecting Sex: Resolving Sexual Problems and Rejuvenating Your Relationship, p. 104.
Publishers Weekly, August 5, 2002, review of Resurrecting Sex, p. 70.
Town & Country, February, 2000, Diane Guernsey, "What's Sex Got to Do with It?," p. 167.
FSB Associates,http://www.fsbassociates.com/books2/passionatemarriageq_a.htm/ (October 9, 2002), "A Conversation with Dr. David Schnarch."
Third Age,http://www.thirdage.com/ (October 9, 2002), brief biography of David Schnarch.*