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Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  2,704 ratings  ·  384 reviews
We may not want to admit it, but as the award-winning columnist and psychologist Jesse Bering reveals in Perv, there is a spectrum of perversion along which we all sit. Whether it’s voyeurism, exhibitionism, or your run-of-the-mill foot fetish, we all possess a suite of sexual tastes as unique as our fingerprints—and as secret as the rest of the skeletons we’ve hidden in o ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  2,704 ratings  ·  384 reviews

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If this book teaches anything, it’s that every kink you can possibly imagine actually exists. In Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us, the author describes a wide range of paraphilias (which stands for experiencing intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations or individuals). A few examples: there are people who are intensely attracted to a building like Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Others experience crazy good orgasms when tumbling down the stairs and even fantasizing about and actually cutt ...more
B Schrodinger
The wonderfully witty and delightfully informative Jesse Bering is back with another look and what makes our pants tick...well what is inside them anyway. This volume looks at non-"normal" sexual behaviour, or anything that does not just involve one penis, one vagina and a few glasses of wine. And yes, he tackles homosexuality, which educated people in this day and age would class as normal, but there seems to be some part of the community that still holds onto the dire wish that it is a sin (wh ...more
Jim Fix
Apr 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
How could a book on sexual behavior be boring? The author has managed that just fine. There are two severe problems here. First is the lack of science. Either there is very little going on in research about human sexuality, or the author simply failed to bring us up to date. There is very little here that wasn't explored by Kinsey in the 1940's.
The second problem seems to be the laziness of the journalism. The author obviously simply sat in a library perusing material that interested him. He fai
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
*WARNING: DO not read this book if you are the type that is offended by...almost anything. More specifically by things of a frank sexual nature. Don't say I did not warn you. However, if you are perv like me that is disturbed by little and finds humour in negative spaces, then please by all means, proceed.*

This is an interesting book. I mean interesting in multiple ways. While clearly the author is highly educated and knows quite a lot about human sexuality and the forces that drive deviant beh
Oct 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
It's a relatively interesting topic, but he doesn't actually bring anything new to the table--this has all been written about elsewhere (much of it in a much more palatable way in Mary Roach's Bonk).

It was poorly organized (why were paraphilia and age of consent in the same chapter?) and worst of all, completely unsubjective. For a topic that lends itself to strong opinions in any reader to begin with, why continually insert oneself into the narrative like an egotistical friend who feels the nee
Tyler J Gray
“Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us” is an uncomfortable yet fascinating and thought-provoking look into the world of sexual deviancy that is actually more common than we’d care to admit.

It is engaging, well researched and at times humorous. It is incredibly informative. When I say it’s well researched, I mean it. The notes, the science, all mentioned.

I went in thinking I had an open mind. Thinking “yea, I know i’m a pervert, and pretty open-minded, hit me with your best shot” and I was STI
Rachel Wexelbaum
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbt, nonfiction
This book was written by a gay psychology professor. Entertaining book, but let me stress to everyone that just because someone is gay, it doesn't mean that they are organically qualified to write a serious book about what the modern world would define as sexual perversion. Bering thought that he had a right to write this book because gays are still considered perverted by many people. At the same time, he is a very mainstream gay man--in a committed relationship with another man (married, even) ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Boring, too long, and with no structure, this book tried to be open minded but adhered too much to biological and gender essentialism to fulfil that promise. It was very binarist (spoiler alert: there are more genders than male and female) and used offensive language when talking about trans people. I felt like the author wrote on topics he'd randomly decided to research simply to show off his witty prose, without giving much thought to where he was going with the book (what was his point?) or t ...more
Zoe's Human
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommended to Zoe's Human by: KJ Garner
Shelves: lt
A fascinating, frank, and amusing examination of social perspectives on sexual deviance. Awkward AF to read in public because folks on the bus frequently ask me what I'm reading. At times, it did drag though.

I've seen some comparisons to Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex; however, I find a head-to-head comparison of these two books unavailing as Bonk is about performing the science of sex and this is about social perceptions of sexual deviance. Not the same topic at all really.
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-science
Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All of Us by Jesse Bering

“Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All of Us" is the uncomfortable, relentless, fearless look into the not-so-uncommon devious world of human sexuality. Dr. Jesse Bering is on a courageous quest to expose the full spectrum of erotic manifestations. The fascinating topic is equaled only by Bering's innate ability to use scientific research into a narrative that provokes, shocks and ultimately educates. This entertaining 289-page book includes the fol
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jesse Bering, award-winning columnist and psychologist, wants to talk about perversions. We are deviants in one form or another; we may not be paedophiles, or into voyeurism and exhibitionism but there maybe something in our past we rather not discuss. In Perv, Jesse Bering looks at the psychology of having a fetish outside the norm and compares it to the difficulties he faced growing up in the 70s and 80s as a gay man.

This is an interesting book; it doesn’t condone sexual abuse or committing a
Youngin Soh
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
First off, I would like interested readers of this book to know that this book is NOT academic writing. I am surprised this guy is a well-known columnist since he lacks the basic knowledge or importance of organizing information. It was horrendous, and his constant merging of personal tales with academic data made me cringe... What a let down this book was in that sense. I am quite interested in human sexual deviance and have read numerous books on the subject. I was expecting so much more from ...more
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: actual-books
An interesting enough read, but honestly there isn't anything in here that was new to me. I also spent most of this book waiting for him to really get into it and then, before I knew it, I was turning the last page. The whole book read like the opening paragraph of a college essay. Plus, Bering spends just about as much time talking about his personal experience with being an outlier as a gay man as he does talking about people with more unusual orientations, to the detriment of the actual facts ...more
Kara Babcock
Are you a perv? Of course you are, you pervy perv, you. At least, that’s the explicit (pun intended) promise in Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us. Jesse Bering grapples with that truism that the only normal is that there is no normal. He catalogues, comments upon, and otherwise investigates the various types of sexual behaviours that are or have previously been labelled as deviant. The purpose of this exposé (pun intended), if you will, appears twofold: firstly, Bering wants to remind and re ...more
Emmy Gregory
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
Hmm this is really quite interesting. No, I did not know that. With bees, you say? Well that's really remarkable and - what? OH GOD THE TRANSPHOBIA. STOP IT STOP IT. Stop misgendering everyone. Stop insisting that it's all some kind of weird fetish. Well that came out of nowhere. I think the trouble is that his interest in weird sexual fetishes means he can't really acknowledge that there's anything gender related that isn't driven by the libido. "People in the trans community are offended by th ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
As Roy 'Chubby' Brown used to say before his shows - "If easily offended stay away".

Fascinating and irritating in turn. Fascinating in that there's a 'blimey, I didn't know THAT' on just about every page. Irritating in that I lost count of how many times Bering told us he was a gay man (literally dozens) and then we get some snippet from his life breaking into whatever subject he was currently writing about.

Mind you, his early 'encounters' with an illustration of a Neanderthal in a picture book
Julie G
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
I wasn't super impressed with the writing. On the one hand, the author does a great job of citing his sources, which makes me want to give him a standing ovation. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing just didn't meet those same standards. I thought it was disconnected and didn't flow very well. I would be hard pressed to give a topic sentence or even chapter summary.

Entertainment Value
Call me close-minded, but I couldn't get past what seemed to be a large quantity of apologia for pe
Kathleen Brugger
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
It makes me depressed to see Scientific American published this book. The style was so sleazy—joking and smart-ass—plus the point of view was odd in a number of ways. 1. supposedly this was about the deviant in all of us, but he spent so much time talking about unusual deviancies, including some that are really disgusting, that most people would end the book thinking they aren't a deviant at all, 2. there’s no discussion about why we are so uptight about sex, 3. some of his examples of deviancy ...more
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sexuality
Loved it! A very good read!
Dec 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I think this review is probably for adults only, due to the nature of the book, so I'm giving it an R rating.

The overall premise of the book is that we shouldn't be so judgmental about other people's private sexual peccadilloes, give that they don't affect us directly. Who cares what consenting adults do in bed, as long as no one is being hurt? (Which isn't always true of consenting adults - the author uses the example of a man who wanted to be killed and eaten and found a cannibal fetish guy t
Simon Copland
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book but was left a little disappointed.

Bering's writing style is great and I powered through the text. And there was a lot of interesting content.

But in the end I didn't come out feeling like there was a strong theme or message I could take from the work. For example, Bering speaks at length about how we shouldn't base our judgements of sexual preferences on whether they are 'natural' or not, we should just use a measure of 'harm'. In other words, a sexual practice c
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Absolute genius. This one is really a four-and-a-half star book. Readable and academic all at the same time, which is hard to pull off.
Here, Bering sets out to do what Foucault was trying to do in many ways: theorize our secret sex lives. Bring to light all that we do not (and so often cannot) talk about as a way of debunking the idea that vanilla = normal and all else is shocking deviance.
I'm not as ready as Bering to chalk things up to evolutionary adaptation, but even here he makes some good
Angus McKeogh
Oct 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Pretty interesting stuff. The cited research demonstrating that humans are essentially born with not only a sexual preference (male, female, both, or neither) as well as an internal sexual identity was basically reinforcing information I was already aware of. However it's also been demonstrated that the age range of who a person is sexually attracted to is innate in our genetics; moreover, the person or objects that others are sexually attracted to is also imprinted in genes and stamped into our ...more
Denis Ferreli
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book on a sensitive subject. I liked how Bering was knowledgable about all sides of the debates but also unrelenting in his search for rational and humane understanding of "deviants" which as he shows is not always an easy to define category when it comes to sex. I thought the writing was brilliant in this book and even bordering on literary in places. For a science writer he has an unusual rhetorical ability and is a master prose artist. Overall if you're not afraid to go i ...more
Jane Fenn
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
You might imagine that a potted history of the social and religious precedents for ostracising those who were outside the sexual ‘norm’, the medicalisation of perceived deviant sexuality, a review of key psycho-sexual research findings and exposing the hypocrisy of the press-fuelled hysteria around extreme sexual deviants, despite contradictory scientific evidence, might be challenging topics through which to maintain a reader’s interest. Jesse Bering, however, achieves a cheeky. mischievous and ...more
Nov 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book doesn't really cover anything new. Too much of a focus on paedophiles. Poorly organized. The author almost completely ignores women despite the title saying the book is about the perv in us all. Bonk by Mary Roach is a much better book on this subject. ...more
Jeremy Hurd-McKenney
This was both dirty and clinical at the same time...funny (most of the time) and informative, but the conceit wore a little thin by the end, and I started to get bored.
cw: transphobia, rape, paedophilia apologism, bestiality

(view spoiler)
I absolutely LOVED this book. Jesse Bering dared to ask questions that most people consider "Asked and answered!". As Jonathan Haidt has demonstrated ad nauseam, humans tend to have more of a knee-jerk reaction to any moral ideology involving sex. It is one primary way we can signal to others that we are not deviant. Humans have long developed disgust responses to socially unacceptable sexual practices. The curious thing is that depending on where on the globe the humans live and also in what ti ...more
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
In Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia quotes psychiatrist Anthony Storr, who said that "fetishism is a triumph of the human imagination." The fetishist, he explains, has transferred his longing from a sensation to an idea. A paraphiliac from way back (I suppose all paraphiliacs are paraphiliacs from way back - so, at least, Bering would have it), I love this quote, although I'm a little disappointed to rediscover (I must have known, once ) that the idea isn't original to Paglia, to whom I have give ...more
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Jesse Bering is a research psychologist and Director of the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.

An award-winning science writer specializing in human behaviour, his first book, The Belief Instinct (2011), was included on the American Library Association’s Top 25 Books of the Year. This was followed by a collection of his previously published essays,

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63 likes · 6 comments
“In adopting a patently false but stubbornly clung-to mythology of human sexuality that makes demons out of natural drives, we've entered a stage of moral sickness, not of moral health.” 5 likes
“The public debate plays out in an infinite regress of blame over who’s responsible for those who fail to fit the standard erotic mold. This is variously ascribed to the people choosing to be the deviants they are, porn, the Devil (always a shoo-in), bad parents, poor role models, our sexually repressed culture, or the psychiatrists who keep needling sexual minorities by branding them mentally ill. It’s a rabbit hole of endless (and usually endlessly bad) arguments. Morally, all that matters—and allow me to reiterate that because I feel it’s quite important, all that matters—is whether a person’s sexual deviancy is demonstrably harmful. If it’s not, and we reject the person anyway, then we’re not the good guys in this scenario; we’re the bad guys.” 2 likes
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