Articles come in many forms. The differences between scholarly articles and the more commercial pieces are vast. Overall, academic and professional pieces of writing are far more reliable, albeit less accessible to a wide readership. Commercial articles and blogs can be fun and entertaining to read. However, their contents cannot be viewed as being textbook equivalent.
Todd Melby’s article, In the Mood, was published in Volume 45, No 6. Of the Contemporary Sexuality journal in June 2010. The article discusses various studies which have added to the conversation about what impact anxiety and depression can have on sexual interest and arousal.
The first study mentioned in the article consisted of a selection of college aged men and women being questioned about what how their mood typically affects their levels of sexual interest. A further study was done which questioned a sample of gay men, the average age of which was thirty-six. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative evidence was gathered from these two studies, and Melby comments on how using a combination of data produces interesting results.
Generally speaking, people reported that depression and anxiety served to decrease their interest in sex. However, among men, and especially gay men, there was a substantial minority who reported that their sexual interest and arousal was in in fact heightened by negative mood, and especially by anxiety. It seems that some men in particular have a tendency to seek solace with another human being when feeling depressed, perhaps in order to validate themselves or to feel close to another person. Another interesting implication of the research was that feelings of depression can increase a man’s tendency to engage in risk-taking with regards to sex. “In an interview with Contemporary Sexuality, Janssen described the men’s attitude this way: “They said, ‘When I feel that way I don’t care. I don’t care about myself. I don’t care about others. Protected sex is just not that important then’” (Molby, 2010).
The results of this research has interesting implications for professionals of sexuality. Truly learning about the determinants of sexual behaviour among humans is still in its early stages. As Molby (2010) says in the article, “In the future, Janssen would like to incorporate brain imaging and additional qualitative research into his exploration of negative mood and sexuality. That’s because there’s still so much more to learn.”
Pamela Madsen’s article, Is Your Sex Life on Anti-Depressants? Was published in the Blogs section of Psychology Today. Madsen claims to be a sex and relationship coach and, through this article, gives advice to women who are suffering from depression and who may be on anti-depressants. She suggests using products such as Zestra, which is apparently made up of a blend of botanical oils, without mentioning any research to back up her notion that it will help women to achieve orgasm.
The piece begins by leading the reader to believe that it will discuss lack of sex drive in depressed people, and in women especially. However, it soon becomes clear that it is more a conversational piece with elements of advice on how a woman can achieve orgasm while on anti-depressants.
The layout of this piece serves to make it easy to read. It is broken down into user-friendly sections. The tone of the article is informal and also contains some grammatical errors within the body. Madsen does make reference to another publication in order to support her claims: “According to the USA today report on Americans taking antidepressants- the amount of Americans using antidepressants doubled in the past - close to 50 million people.” However, there is little more detail given than that statement.
Overall, Madsen’s blog seems to be plugging the Zestra product as well as using her status as a sex and relationship coach to advise women on enhancing their sex life while on antidepressant. She says, “Zestra can be applied topically to help with latency to orgasm and has been reported by many women on SSRI also report improved sexual orgasmic response" (Masden, 2010).
Madsen’s and Molby’s articles have one major thing in common. They both address the issue, admittedly to varying degrees of how mood can affect sex. They also both acknowledge that a negative mood can severely impinge sexual desire and arousal in many people.
The two pieces are very different in their use of language. Molby’s article is written academically and impartially. He reports on scientific studies and he comments on the facts that have been returned in their results. Conversely, Masden writes in a conversational tone and makes general comments about the topics covered. Additionally, Masden’s article seems as though it has not been thoroughly edited as there are occasional types and grammatical mistakes. Molby’s article, however, is finely tuned and reads as though it has had several rewrites, perhaps with different editors involved in perfecting it to publishable standard.
For consumers reading Molby’s article, they will learn a great deal about the impact of negative mood on sexuality, from the viewpoint of the world of science and of academic researchers. Professionals in the field of sexuality have influenced the content of this article, and the reader will find reliable statistics resulting from the studies carried out about the subject. However, Masden’s article brings a bit of light relief to the reader. It is completely accessible, whereas some people without a strong educational background may struggle to understand some of the details expressed within Molby’s piece. For people who are looking for some light advice about improving their sex life while on antidepressants, Masden’s article may provide comfort and possibly even some assistance to them in that domain.
Molby’s article is well presented, professional and academic. These qualities make the piece seem reliable to readers and indeed to scholars wishing to learn more about the subject. However, these qualities can also serve to put some people off. Again, people who are from a less educational background may struggle to read this article and to relate to it. Masden’s article counteracts this feeling; the tone is very accessible to most people. However, the downside of her blog is that many people will not take it seriously. It is presented like a low class women’s magazine, but with less finesse in that it does not even seem to have been properly proofread.
The scholarly approach is arguably they better of the two. It contains reliable information and references which can be checked and cross-referenced. It also covers the subject in a broad manner, discussing the various studies that have been done on the subject, their results, how the results correlate to one another, and what the implications are for further research. Essentially, the best way to learn about a scientific matter such as this is to look for evidence of research on the subject. This is much more valuable and reliable than speculation and loose facts that have been embellished.
However, there are also arguments for why the blog from Psychology Today is more important. This article allows a wider range of reader to access the subject and to learn something about it. Furthermore, it is not bogged down with statistics and names of professors. It is simple to read and to understand for the vast majority of literate adults, it sticks to one subject most of the way through, and there are even humorous lines within it which will appeal to many readers.
Professors prefer students to incorporate peer-reviewed and professional publications into their work as these types of sources are much more reliable than the more commercial ones. A blog on a website can be placed by just about anyone who knows how, and not because they are well-read or knowledgeable about the subject they are discussing. Sexuality is a vast topic. Although sexual experience is something that most adults know a certain amount about, these experiences can vary widely. As Molby points out in his article, the dependents for sexuality are not really understood, despite what many people automatically think.
Although both Molby’s and Masden’s articles were interesting to read, it is almost without doubt that Molby’s is the more reliable and valuable of the two. Scholarly articles are edited and monitored. If they are not academically worthwhile, they will not be published. Articles like Masden’s, on the other hand, can be published by almost anyone and there is nothing within them that gives a reader a sense that the information is reliable.
Madsen, P. (2010). Is Your Sex Life on Anti-Depressants? Psychology Today. Accessed from
Melby, T. (2010). In the Mood. Contemporary Sexuality, Vol 45, No. 6.