The lonely road to success

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 2009, 12:00am

Name: Ng Man-lun

Occupation: Sexologist

Star sign: Libra

On my play list: Classical music

Hobbies: Musical instruments, Wii sports

The man: My father was a scholar and had very strong language skills. He had a big influence on me. My home was like a little library, with books in many different languages, and I loved to read even when I was too young to understand what it was I was reading about.

I never thought of specialising in sex. I was interested in learning anything that people seemed to be generally ignorant about, and sex was one such topic. I could see a lot of discrimination, inequality between men and women, and unfair treatment of minority groups.

I didn't think of specialising in sexology even after finishing medical school. I first went into psychiatry because I found it interesting and because psychiatrists were in such short supply in Hong Kong.

Psychiatric patients were often underprivileged people and were treated unfairly. In my view, society needed professionals to help them.

After entering psychiatry, my interests narrowed to psychotherapy, and I became more interested when I discovered it was difficult and the least profitable medical-related profession.

After I had a better grasp of what psychotherapy was about, I began to explore one of its least popular areas: sex therapy.

Sex was a taboo subject in Hong Kong, so very few people were interested in this area. It was challenging for both the patients and the therapist. I had to be very careful when dealing with patients.

When I took it up, I was the only professional sex therapist in Hong Kong. I worked at Queen Mary Hospital for 30 years until I retired two years ago, and now I teach at the HKU Family Institute at Tsan Yuk Hospital.

Influences: Sexologists like Freud were my idols. They were brave people who had the courage to fight for what they believed in. A scholar should never compromise. I think I have had some influence on people and helped them be more open-minded. But sex education here has developed slowly.

Vision for future: Sexology is still underdeveloped in Hong Kong.

After I retired, it became an extinct profession because no one has taken up the job. But I am not worried. Hong Kong is a small place and there are currently some great sexologists practising on the mainland.

That's where I lay my hopes. Things are progressing on the mainland and, as the profession becomes more acceptable there and elsewhere around the world, Hong Kong will eventually follow.


1 Should you pursue a career even if it's not popular?

2 Do you think sex education is given enough emphasis in schools?

3 What do you think Ng Man-lun has achieved?