Posts tagged ‘nymphomania’

13 January 2012

Nymphomania or female hypersexuality Part 1

On October 21, 2011, an article signed Silvia Galipeau in the french cyber magazine Cyberpresse made me react negatively. Femmes avides de porno (Women eager for porn). It shocked me because I realized that hypersexual women do not exist in the media,  they are  invisible. They don’t exist because a woman cannot be hypersexual, she can only be a whore, a B*tch, a mentally ill person or a victim. Victim of a far away past or victim of whomever you want.  Hypersexual women do not seek help? Who would want to ask for help with that in mind?  According to the article, there ain’t really many hypersexual women. Big news, female sexual addict exist, just open your eyes, push your fantasies out of the way and open your mind and your definition of sexual addiction.  Female sex addiction is not better than men sex addiction. Shame, guilt, self-loathing and temporary relief is female hypersexual dynamics.

If men can express with pride their sexual explorations and conquests, a woman knows early in her life that she better  be discreet if she enjoys it a lot.  This article explains the view society had on  women sex life through different periods of time and the way hypersexuality is explain by a few experts.

Nymphomania:  Part 1

Female hypersexuality or nymphomania is a social phenomenon difficult to identify because of double standards attached to women for centuries. Often defined by the rules and standards of an era or religious dictates, it is still difficult today to recognize a woman who lives a real disorder related to sexual obsessions and compulsions from another one with a high sexual drive.

Part 1 of this article is an overview of the various definitions and explanations of female sexual desire and female sexual addiction through time.  It also presents the definition of female sex addiction according to Albert Ellis.

What is important in any work in sex therapy is to understand the client and to be able to propose a model where they can identify themselves and with whom we can  built a therapeutic plan together. A plan that will respect their values, beliefs and their intelligence to act  towards a solution.
The more someone can identify with a model, the lesser the resistance. Sexual desire is fragile. A clear definition of sex addiction is definitely a must. Professionals need a standard definition of sex addiction to assess this growing phenomenon and to protect the public from personalized definitions.

In the Middle Ages, a woman with exaggerated sexual desire was seen as possessed by the devil. If the exorcisms prove ineffective, they would burn her alive. Described by De Bienville D.T. (1) in 1772,

Nymphomania is a real disease of sex, uterine fury, bringing those who were living in the yoke imposing and glorious of decency and to seek from anyone their insatiable desires. Nymphomania is an exaggeration of female sexual desire, an attitudes leading to seduction and provocation that do not conform to the female role as is generally expected in society.

At the time of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), it is clear that no woman considered normal must have felt no desire and no sexual pleasure. More recently, in 1930, Magnus Hirshfeld(2)  described nymphomania as the result of excessive masturbation

Nymphomania develops on the ground of neurasthenia and serious brain disease and mental illness.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy,  Albert Ellis(3)  (1962)
According to Ellis, the addiction is:

A substance or activity that seems to be necessary to face conflicts or discomfort. In the case of female sexual addiction, it is easy to confuse a woman for whom sex takes a prominent place in its activities. It is in the cause and effect that we can distinguish the two. A woman may have several lovers, correctly select them and be able to control carefully the times when she will live her sexuality. Her sexuality is experienced in a balanced mode, it is a pleasure of life and if she were a man, she would be judged as normal or lucky.

Nymphomania is defined by four characteristics:
1)    Loss of control: The nymphomaniac desires are uncontrollable; she refuses to live according to a rational mode where sexuality is sought and lived in a sensible pattern. When desire takes hold her, she must quickly satisfy them, without regard for the consequences: job loss, loss friendships, broken family ties, etc.
2)    The constant need: An insatiable desire. Repeat the experience of orgasm. Even when it is experienced many times, she remains unsatisfied. The need to repeat the experience when tensions reappear.
3)    The compulsivity: The woman is driven to action or to seek to have relationships in spite of her desire to stop. Even when the compulsion leads to the act, she remains unsatisfied for reasons that remain obscure even to her. There is an absence of choice.
4)    Self-contempt: Because women’s sexuality has long been stigmatized in Western society, the nymphomaniac is judge severely by those around her. As a result, she is judging her conduct harshly.
The nymphomaniac seeks to escape the anxieties generate by her sexual activities not only because they are disturbing or demonstrate a serious emotional problem but because they lead her to feel even more self-contempt. She is caught in a vicious circle in which her conduct deeply affect her and lead her to denigrate  even herself more. These tensions again led her to seek sex. It may result that the judgment  she holds against herself becomes more important than the original sexual disorder.

Because of the double standard that characterize women’s sexuality, a significant number of them can feel troubled to seek sexual activity with a higher frequency then other women around or she might be label as such when her libido is higher than her partners. Being led to believe she is hypersexual when she is not. What characterizes the nymphomaniac is compulsion and self-loathing.

Still according to Ellis(4) (1992), a sexual addiction disorder starts in irrational ideas that are maintained by the people. Thoughts creates emotions which in turn causes the action. In transforming the beliefs that contribute to the addictive act, the person is given the power to move away from its destructive pattern. Once they removed the irrational thoughts, they can work on problems more efficiently.

The client learns to put into perspective the benefits and losses associated with his irrational beliefs and disruptive behaviors and the losses and gains associated with change. REBT promotes long-term autonomy for patients actively involved in their therapy because the gains are transferable to all other areas of life.

Part2 will continue with the definitions of  nymphomania according to Helen Singer Kaplan and finally according to Patrick Carnes.
  1. De Bienville, D.T. La nymphomanie ou traité de fureur utérine. 1772
  2. Gellman, Charles & Gellman, Josette. Les thérapies sexuelles. Les éditions ESF, Paris, 1983, 130 p.
  3. Ellis, Albert. Sagarin Edward, Nymphomania, a study of oversexed women. New-York, 1962.
  4. Ellis, Albert. Harper, R.A. L’approche émotivo-rationnelle. Edition de l’homme, 1992.
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