The Enigma of Sexual Desire, Part 1: A Brief Review of Classical, Historical, Philosophical, and Literary Perspectives

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Throughout human history and across cultures, sexual desire has been of interest to the general public and, now more recently, to the medical/psychological community. Part 1 of this two part series examines the historical aspects of the concept of sexual desire throughout its many transformations, beginning with the writings and mythologies of the ancient Greeks and extending through the ages to the present through the writings of philosophers, playwrights, novelists, and historians. We explore the concept of desire as both a tolerated and celebrated construct over the ages, discussing Western sociocultural perspectives regarding its nature and condition. In our view, such an historical perspective both provides a foundation for the scientific investigation of sexual desire and sheds light on issues currently being discussed with respect to sexual desire, as delineated in Part 2.