There have been several other, less comprehensive, models proposed, such as noted sex­ologist Helen Singer Kaplan’s triphasic model (Kaplan, 1979), David Reed’s Erotic Stimulus Pathway (ESP), and Tiefer’s New View model. Kaplan’s triphasic model has only three stages, whereas Reed’s ESP has four.

Kaplan believed sexual response included sexual desire, excitement, and orgasm (see Figure 10.6). Sexual desire is a psychological phase, whereas excitement and orgasm in­volve physiological processes, including genital vasocongestion and muscular contrac­tions during orgasm. Originally Kaplan’s model included only excitement and orgasm, but she added the desire phase in response to the numbers of people who came to ther­apy with sexual desire problems. Sexual desire was of paramount importance to Kaplan because, without sexual desire, the other two physiological functions would not occur.

Many factors can block sexual desire, such as depression, pain, fear, medications, or past sexual abuse. We discuss the importance of the desire phase and disorders associated with it in Chapter 14. An advantage to Kaplan’s model is that the triphasic model is eas­ier to conceptualize than Masters & Johnson’s model. For example, most of us can rec­ognize and differentiate desire, excitement, and orgasm but may have a difficult time rec­ognizing when we are in Masters & Johnson’s plateau phase.

David Reed’s (1998) ESP model blends features of Masters and Johnson’s and Kaplan’s models and uses four phases, including seduction, sensation, surrender, and reflection (see Figure 10.7). Seduction includes all those things that we might do to en­tice someone to have sex with us—what we wear, perfume or cologne, flowers, and so on. In the next stage of sensation, our senses take over. What we hear, smell, taste, touch, and fantasize about all have the potential to turn us on and enhance our excite­ment. This, in turn, moves us into the plateau phase. Both the seduction and sensation phase are psychosocial, and they contribute to our physiological response.

In the third phase, surrender, orgasm occurs. Reed believes that we need to be able to let go and let ourselves reach orgasm. Too much control or not enough may interfere with this response. The final phase of Reed’s model is the reflection phase, in which we reflect on the sexual experience. Whether or not the experience was positive or nega­tive will affect future sexual functioning.

Another model has been proposed by noted sex therapist Leonore Tiefer. Tiefer originated the “New View” of women’s sexual problems, and although we will discuss

Other Models of Sexual Response

Figure 10.6

Helen Singer Kaplan’s three-stage model of sexual response includes the psychological phase of sexual desire and two physiological stages of excitement and orgasm.

 

Seduction Sensation Surrender Reflection

Other Models of Sexual Response

Figure 10.7

David Reed’s Erotic Stimulus Pathway (ESP) model blends features of Masters and Johnson’s and Kaplan’s models using four phases: seduction, sensation, surrender, and reflection.

 

this model more in Chapter 14, we will introduce it here. Tiefer suggests that because both Masters and Johnson’s and Kaplan’s models are based on the medical model, they leave out important aspects of sexual functioning (Tiefer, 2001). The medical model of sexual functioning focuses solely on adequate genital functioning—vasocongestion, myotonia, physical excitement, and orgasm. As Tiefer characterizes the perspective of the medical model, “if it’s wet and hard and works, it’s normal; if it’s not, it’s not” (Tiefer, 2001).

Tiefer believes that there are many important aspects of sexual functioning that are left out of these models, including pleasure, emotionality, sensuality, cultural differences, power issues, and communication. Women’s sexual experiences do not fit neatly into Masters and Johnson’s four stages, according to Tiefer, and as a result women complain of desire and arousal issues and other difficulties in emotionality, sensitivity, or connect­edness (Tiefer, 2001). Although there has been some controversy over Tiefer’s model, for the most part her views have been widely praised. Her work has begun a much-needed dialogue about the importance of gender and sexual functioning.