Alumnus Christopher Ryan, Ph.D. ’03 Presents Lecture: On the Prehistoric Origins of Sexuality
Monday, Nov. 14, 2011
Namaste Hall, CIIS Main Building
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Since Darwin’s day, we’ve been told that sexual monogamy comes naturally to our species. But it doesn’t, and never has. Mainstream science—as well as religious and cultural institutions—has long maintained that men and women evolved in nuclear families where a man’s possessions and protection were exchanged for a woman’s fertility and fidelity. But this narrative is collapsing. Fewer and fewer couples are getting married and divorce rates keep climbing while adultery and flagging libido drag down even seemingly solid marriages. Christopher Ryan will discuss material from his recent best-seller, Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, showing how our promiscuous past haunts our current struggles regarding monogamy, sexual orientation, and family dynamics.
Christopher Ryan, PhD, Saybrook ’03, received a BA in English and American literature in 1984 and an MA and PhD in psychology from Saybrook University 20 years later. He spent the intervening decades traveling around the world, living in unexpected places working at very odd jobs (gutting salmon in Alaska, teaching English to prostitutes in Bangkok and self-defense to land-reform activists in Mexico, managing commercial real-estate in New York’s Diamond District, helping Spanish physicians publish their research). Somewhere along the way, he decided to pursue doctoral studies in psychology. Drawing upon his multi-cultural experience, Christopher’s research focused on trying to distinguish the human from the cultural. His doctoral dissertation analyzes the prehistoric roots of human sexuality, and was guided by the world-renowned psychologist, Stanley Krippner.
Based in Barcelona since the mid-1990s, Christopher has lectured at the University of Barcelona Medical School and consulted at various local hospitals. He speaks about human sexuality to audiences around the world (in both English and Spanish). His work has appeared in major newspapers and magazines in many languages, scholarly journals, and a text book used in medical schools and teaching hospitals throughout Spain and Latin America.