I picked this book up because one of my heroes, Derren Brown, endorsed it. I actually read Bering’s earlier book, The Belief Instinct, before I read this one, because it sounded more like my cup of tea, but this was very entertaining, and I felt it had a bit more of his personality in it.
Bering says that his aim was to write “a lighthearted book about sexual deviance.” I would say that, as difficult as that may sound, he has succeeded. He looks at humans versus other animals, the desire for much more sex than average, finding more unusual parts of the body, beings, or objects desirable, same-sex and opposite sex attraction, and, that sensitive subject of finding people of a certain age attractive. He interjects with anecdotes about his own life and adds humour in here and there when appropriate. Not quite to the extent that the fabulous Mary Roach does, but that allows him to get to the facts much more quickly.
I take issue with the subtitle of the book “the sexual deviant in all of us.” Bering actually gives us the statistics, and as a heterosexual woman, I am highly unlikely the deviate very much at all from the norm.
Bering has taught me a lot about how the mind works and how people with odd or unusual desires have ended up with them. He has also pointed out that some people who do odd or unusual things may not have been driven to them by the same desires as others who do the same things. For example, a man may desire sex with a horse but manage to have sex with his wife if he thinks of his horse, and a boy on a farm may want to be having sex with a human girl, but if none are available then a sheep might do. One of them is a zoophile and one of them is having sex with an animal. He tackled the difficult subject of paedophilia in a completely balanced and sensitive way, and he made me think about the condition in an entirely different light.
This is a fascinating and entertaining book about the human mind and how it develops. It focuses on sex, but then so does the human mind. If you are interested in what makes us humans do the peculiar things that we do then I would highly recommend this book.