What Is Considered Hypersexual Behavior?
Hypersexuality is characterized by a sudden increase in libido or the frequent occurrence of libidinous desires or behavior. Professionals in the mental healthcare industry may clinically diagnose the condition. Nowadays, the term ‘hypersexuality’ is commonly used in preference to “nymphomania” and “satyriasis.” These terms were previously used to refer to similar conditions in women and men.
Hypersexuality is either a primary condition or a symptom of another condition. In particular, hypersexuality has been associated with conditions such as bipolar disorder and Klüver-Bucy syndrome. Patients undergoing treatment for Parkinson’s disease may also display hypersexuality in response to medication.
The Medical Community’s View of Hypersexuality
Physicians have yet to agree on whether to consider hypersexuality as the primary condition or to classify it as a distinct pathology. In any case, hypersexuality is commonly considered a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some physicians consider it an impulse-related condition.
It is crucial to examine the role that culture plays in the definition of hypersexuality. Some cultures view sexuality differently than others. What constitutes excessive sexual urges and behaviors in some cultures may be seen as “normal” in others. In some cases, hypersexuality may be considered a disorder by those that have a cultural aversion to sexual behavior that they deem excessive or out of the ordinary.
Symptoms of Hypersexuality
It is equally important to make the distinction between hypersexuality and sexual behavior that includes engaging in sex with multiple partners and seeking out different sexual experiences. While these activities are commonly considered normal, they may become associated with hypersexuality when they cause distress to the person or other people with which they share a relationship. Unlike normal sexual behavior, hypersexuality also causes harm to the person or others.
A common characteristic of people diagnosed with hypersexuality disorder is the tendency to think about sex or engage in sexual activities beyond the bounds of what is considered ‘normal’. Some may masturbate excessively, view pornography frequently, engage in sex with multiple partners, and routinely pay for sex. These and other related activities often cause the person to experience issues with work and personal relationships.
Hypersexual people commonly exhibit one or more of the following symptoms for six months or more:
- Intense and recurring sexual urges and fantasies.
- Sexual behavior that frequently affects activities and personal obligations.
- Sexual behavior that occurs in response to anxiety, boredom, depression, irritability, stress, and other mood states.
- Inability to reduce or control sexual behaviors, fantasies, and urges.
- Tendency to engage in sexual behaviors without regard for the detrimental effects that the actions may cause.
- Engaging in sexual behaviors, fantasies, and urges to the extent of causing distress and impairment.
- Engaging in sexual behavior in response to anxiety and depression.
- Resorting to sex to avoid difficult emotions.
Causes of Hypersexuality
For some people, hypersexuality is caused by factors such as anxiety, depression, or some other emotional state. In others, it may be the result of conflict in the relationship. There may also be elements of morality or shame involved.
Inappropriate sexual behavior has also been observed in adolescents and even young children. For younger people, hypersexuality may stem from mental illness, stress, or a traumatic experience.
Although there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes hypersexuality in younger people, it is widely acknowledged that children who have experienced sexual abuse tend to exhibit increased sexual behavior. Such children may also engage in risky sexual behavior that is commonly associated with social stress, family dysfunction, and other socio-demographic factors.
Treatment for Hypersexuality
Specialized counseling is available to people for whom sexual urges and behaviors cause significant distress. Psychotherapy may be prescribed for people who experience hypersexuality as a result of trauma or a mental condition. In cases wherein hypersexuality stems from an emotional state, psychotherapy may help the affected person regulate their emotions and develop a clearer view of their sexuality.
Treatment for hypersexuality typically involves one or more of the following:
- Rebuilding personal relationships.
- Developing techniques for managing stress.
- Identifying factors and situations that usually trigger sexual thoughts or compulsive behaviors.
- Coming up with alternative behaviors that are much less detrimental to the person.
These and other related treatment methods and procedures could help reduce the impact of hypersexuality on the affected person’s life. At the very least, it could help affected individuals manage their condition much more effectively.