Shirley Zussman, Indefatigable Sex Therapist, Is Dead at 107


Shirley Zussman, a intercourse therapist who was skilled by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, the researchers who demystified the mechanics of intercourse, and who continued seeing sufferers till she was 105, died on Dec. 4 at her dwelling in Manhattan. She was 107.

Her son, Mark Zussman, confirmed the loss of life.

In 1966, Dr. Zussman, a psychiatric social employee and psychotherapist, and her husband, Leon Zussman, a gynecologist and obstetrician, had been invited to a lecture given by two intercourse researchers who had been just about unknown at the time: Dr. Masters, a gynecologist, and Ms. Johnson, a university dropout who had studied psychology.

At their St. Louis clinic, the couple (Dr. Masters was at the time married to another person) had begun serving to individuals enhance their intercourse lives, utilizing what they’d realized in almost a decade of scientific analysis finding out the methods women and men had intercourse and what gave them pleasure. Their guide “Human Sexual Response,” which popularized the remedy of sexual dysfunction and helped liberate its victims from the analyst’s sofa, had simply been revealed and was not but the runaway finest vendor it might turn into. But the lecture they delivered, as Dr. Zussman told Time magazine in 2014, the 12 months of her centennial, resonated for her and her husband.

Dr. Masters and Ms. Johnson’s analysis discovered that ladies may very well be multi-orgasmic, however not all the time or usually — or, in some circumstances, ever — by means of penetration. They had been pro-masturbation and taught about it. It was a fraught cultural second, because the buttoned-up 1950s gave option to what Dr. Zussman known as the frantic hookups of the ’60s, and every interval had in its personal means been a recipe for efficiency anxiousness and misery.

Despite the enjoyable mores of the ’60s, Dr. Zussman recalled: “It was all not just glamorous and wonderful to be sexual. One had to almost learn how to be a good partner and to enjoy the pleasure, not only for yourself but for each other. And I thought, ‘We can do that! Why can’t we do that?’”

The Zussmans skilled at the Masters and Johnson Institute and by the mid-’70s had been co-directors of the Human Sexuality Center at Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center. Their sufferers had been married {couples}, usually ladies who weren’t orgasmic and males who had been impotent or ejaculating prematurely.

They felt the underlying points needed to do with communication, as they gently detailed of their 1979 guide, “Getting Together: A Guide to Sexual Enrichment for Couples.” With workouts each bodily and psychological — the Zussmans inspired their sufferers to plumb their upbringing for clues to their attitudes about intercourse and relationships, and to look at how work, household and societal pressures affected their intimacy — the guide was wide-ranging in its scope. It was additionally compassionate.

“Shirley was a pioneer in sex therapy and an excellent role model,” mentioned Ruth Westheimer, who was a program director at Planned Parenthood and was finding out sexuality at Columbia University when she took a course in intercourse remedy taught by Dr. Zussman and her husband at their Long Island clinic. It was the primary expertise with the self-discipline for Dr. Westheimer, the buoyant Holocaust survivor and sexologist who later turned a well-known face on tv. “They were trailblazers, because she was a therapist and her husband was a gynecologist and that validated the work. It gave it the legitimacy that sex therapists like me needed. I wouldn’t be talking about orgasms if it wasn’t for Shirley.”

Sexual pleasure, Dr. Zussman mentioned in 2014, “is only one part of what men and women want for each other. They want intimacy. They want closeness. They want understanding. They want comfort. They want fun. And they want somebody who really cares about them beyond going to bed with them. And I think people are always seeking that in every generation.”

Shirley Edith Dlugasch was born on July 23, 1914, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Her father, Louis Dlugasch, was a physician, and her mom, Sara (Steiner) Dlugasch, was a surgical nurse.

Shirley grew up in Brooklyn and attended Smith College, majoring in psychology and graduating in 1934. (Julia Child was a classmate.) She earned a diploma at the New York School of Social Work-Columbia University (now the Columbia School of Social Work) in 1937, and a doctorate in training from Teachers College, at Columbia University, in 1969.

Her dissertation regarded at husbands who had been current within the supply room, a radical act within the ’50s and ’60s. Dr. Zussman wished to discover supply customs in different cultures, and he or she reached out to the celebrated anthropologist Margaret Mead, who was a member of Columbia’s school, to be on her thesis committee.

In addition to her son, Dr. Zussman is survived by her daughter, Carol Sun; three grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and 7 great-grandchildren. Leon Zussman died in 1980.

Dr. Zussman was twice president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. She was a frequent visitor on speak exhibits and for a decade and a half had a month-to-month column in Glamour journal, “Sex and Health.” She attributed her lengthy life to good genes: Her sister lived to 104, her brother to 96.

In her follow of each intercourse remedy and psychotherapy, Dr. Zussman noticed same-sex {couples} and single individuals in addition to heterosexual {couples}. She mentioned the commonest drawback amongst her sufferers within the 21st century was an absence of want.

“You have to look at your priorities,” she informed Time journal. “You have to decide what is important to make you feel good about yourself and your life. And to help make your partner feel good. To establish something that is gratifying, that fills a need that we all have to be close to somebody.”



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