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Yula Ponticas vs. transgender people

Yula Ponticas, Ph.D.

Ponticas is one of several people at Johns Hopkins involved in the repression of trans people through psychiatry.

Yula Ponticas graduated in 1979 from McDaniel College in Maryland and received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Florida State University in 1987. Her advisor was Jon Bailey (to my knowledge, no relation to our friend at Northwestern). Ponticas is a somewhat unusual surname that brings up several people, all from Chile.

She has written about in-vitro fertilization (with Fagan), care for the developmentally disabled, and paraphilia. Note that the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, where her first paper on crossdressing appeared, is where “autogynephilia” first appeared in print two years prior. Her only solo paper appeared in the same issue as the “five factors” paper co-authored with Wise et al.

The five-factor model goes like this:

Surgency (introvert/extrovert)



Emotional Stability

Intellect/ Openness to Experience

My take on all these personality assessment tests is that they are about as useful and scientific as horoscopes. A lot of this is coming out of Northwestern ia Revelle and friends, though:


Relevant papers by Ponticas include abstracts.

Wohl MK, Finney JW, Riordan MM, Iwata BA, Ponticas Y, Page TJ. (1981).   Behavioral assessment and treatment of complete food refusal in a developmentally disabled child.   Association for Behavior Analysis, Milwaukee.

Ponticas Y, Fagan PJ. Issues in the Psychological Evaluation and Care of In Vitro Fertilization Couples Appl Res Ment Retard.   1986;7(1):21-35.

Richman GS, Ponticas Y, Page TJ, Epps S. Simulation procedures for teaching independent menstrual care to mentally retarded persons.

Wise TN, Fagan PJ, Schmidt CW, Ponticas Y, Costa PT. Personality and sexual functioning of transvestitic fetishists and other paraphilics. J Nerv Ment Dis.   1991 Nov;179(11):694-8.

Utilizing the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI) and the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI), 24 transvestitic fetishists (TVs) were compared with a similar clinic-evaluated group of 26 other paraphilics (OPs). The data replicated previous results and extended them by showing that TVs did not differ from OPs on most dimensions of the NEO-PI and the DSFI. Both groups were significantly higher on neuroticism and significantly lower on agreeableness than the NEO-PI male normative population. The other paraphilic group tended to score lower on conscientiousness than the TVs and the normative comparison group. For nine of the 10 DSFI variables, there were no significant differences between the TVs and the OPs. The TVs were significantly higher than the OPs on role identity, indicating a more feminine identification. Both the TVs and OPs reported elevated levels of fantasy. The implications of these findings suggest that, in general, TVs and OPs are more similar than they are different, with a common personality profile and a similar pattern of sexual functioning.

Fagan PJ, Wise TN, Schmidt CW Jr, Ponticas Y, Marshall RD, Costa PT Jr. A comparison of five-factor personality dimensions in males with sexual dysfunction and males with paraphilia. J Pers Assess.   1991 Dec;57(3):434-48.

We compared personality profiles of men with sexual dysfunction (n = 51) to those of age-matched men with a primary diagnosis of paraphilia (n = 51) employing the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI), a measure of the five-factor model. Preliminary analyses in a large sample of patients in a sexual behaviors consultation unit supported the reliability and factorial validity of the NEO-PI for this population. Analysis of variance showed significant differences between the dysfunctional and the paraphilic groups on two of the five NEO-PI domains, Neuroticism (N) and Agreeableness (A). The group personality profile of the sexually dysfunctional men was comparable to the normative sample of the NEO-PI, except for a slight elevation in N. By contrast, men with paraphilia had a personality profile marked by high N, low A, and low Conscientiousness (C). Treatment implications of the average personality profile of the sexual dysfunction group and the distinctive personality profile of paraphilic men are discussed.

Ponticas Y. Sexual aversion versus hypoactive sexual desire: a diagnostic challenge. Psychiatr Med.   1992;10(2):273-81.

Our work with women with sexual aversion documents the presence of marked sexual avoidance behaviors as specified in the DSM-III-R1 diagnostic criteria for this disorder. At the same time, we demonstrate the presence of normal sexual desire and capacity for orgasm in these women. These two findings offer support for a valid diagnostic differentiation between sexual aversion disorder and hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Inherent in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual aversion disorder is an appreciation by the clinician of the tremendous approach-avoidance conflict that exists in these patients. The behavioral and cognitive avoidance features, therefore, need to be elicited actively by the clinician during all phases of assessment and treatment. These features are not always offered readily by the patients for fear of having to relinquish these strategies and their related sense of control over the overwhelming anxiety that sexual intimacy can produce. Consequently, treatment is not always straightforward and successful.  

Costa PT Jr, Fagan PJ, Piedmont RL, Ponticas Y, Wise TN. The five-factor model of personality and sexual functioning in outpatient men and women. Psychiatr Med.   1992;10(2):199-215.

454 adults seeking evaluation at a sexual behaviors consultation clinic were evaluated for the major dimensions of personality as measured by the NEO Personality Inventory and various aspects of sexual attitudes and experiences via the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory. The results showed that elevated Neuroticism was correlated with dysphoric symptoms, negative body image and lowered satisfaction. More extraverted individuals reported increased drive, more sexual experience, positive body image, and more positive affects. Agreeableness was unrelated to sexual drive and satisfaction but was negatively related to symptomatology. Openness was positively associated with amount of Information, range of sexual experiences, liberal attitudes toward sex, sexual drive and fantasy and appears to broadly impact upon sexual functioning. The more conscientious subjects had lowered sexual drive, but fewer dysphoric symptoms and a better body image. Women showed a similar pattern of personality correlates with the exception that personality was unrelated to females’ sexual experiences and sexual satisfaction. The present findings support and expand previous research and contribute to our understanding of how personality dispositions influence the experience and expression of sexual functioning in male and female clinical samples.