At the beginning of Jake’s Thing, Jake complains to his physician about what he believes is a simple sexual dysfunction. He even hints to the doctor that some sort of medication might set him straight. By the end of the novel, however, after a series of psychological therapies, Jake’s problem is compounded tenfold. In the concluding chapter, when Jake is finally offered a physical remedy in the form of testosterone supplements, he is so utterly averse to women that he responds with a decisive “No thanks.”
Jake Richardson belongs to an older generation of men who have conservative notions of sexual decency. Rosenberg may be correct in his assessment of Jake’s puritanical “guilt and shame,” but Jake resents having to apologize for attitudes which he considers natural and proper. Although Jake assures Rosenberg that he does not mind “exposing his genitals in public” for the purpose of therapy, Rosenberg’s obsession with the topic of such exposure annoys him. Jake believes that there are physical and psychological matters which ought to remain private. It seems to Jake that Rosenberg’s insistent theme of public pubic display is an analogue for the modern mania for psychoanalytic exposure. Jake particularly resents the moral hegemony of the mental health profession, and he despises its cant: “If there’s one word that sums up everything that’s gone wrong since the War, it’s Workshop. After Youth, that is.” Despite his...
(The entire section is 428 words.)