Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 4, Oct. 6, 2001


Book Review

Private Thoughts. Exploring the Power of Women's Fantasies

By Wendy Maltz and Suzie Boss
New World Library; ISBN: 1-57731-146-9; US $ 14

Private Thoughts
click on this link to buy this book

Reviewed by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD PhD

Sex therapist and author Wendy Maltz and writer Suzie Boss have combined their talents in this new book about women's sexual fantasies. Together they explore the origins of women's most private thoughts, the most common fantasy roles for women, and how sexual fantasies may function to enhance one's sex life. Wendy Maltz's capacity as one of our country's leading experts with respect to healing from past sexual abuse is also reflected in this book. Chapters on how to recognize fantasy traps and heal or even change unwanted fantasies provide individuals with important insights and tools to alter disturbing fantasies. Finally, the authors offer advice on how to share fantasies with your lover and how to create new fantasies.

I found this book remarkable as it addresses an important issue in a very matter of fact way. Once again, it becomes clear how diverse women's sexualities are. The authors provide a logical framework for different fantasy styles by separating sexual fantasies into two broad categories, 1) scripted fantasies which may contain scripted plots and identifiable characters versus 2) unscripted fantasies with a primary focus on sensations rather that character roles. These two categories are by no means exclusive. In fact, many women draw from both in order to make up their personal fantasies.

Different women have different modes for getting sexually aroused, and while some prefer visual stimulation, others may find that auditory, tactile, olfactory, kinesthetic (related to body movement) or flavor stimuli are important ingredients to trigger sexual arousal. Maltz and Boss conclude: "…Sex therapists have recognized for years that fantasy can be an effective aid in helping women with sexual performance. They have frequently recommended the use of fantasies to boost sexual response, sort of like a vibrator of mind…The beauty of fantasy is that we can tap this wellspring of creativity at any time, in any place, with no one else privy to our thoughts…"

I very much agree that sexual fantasies are private thoughts, which do not necessarily have to be shared with others. For those who choose to share their fantasies with a partner for sexual enrichment, the authors offer sound advice on how to best accomplish this and they provide various guidelines for how to enact fantasies while honoring each other's limits.

In conclusion, I can highly recommend Private Thoughts to anyone, female or male, who wants to learn more about the power of women's sexual fantasies.