Editor(s)-in-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S.,M.D.  Phone:617-632-7753; Dr. Vikas Dhikav
Hypersexuality is desire to engage in human sexual behavior at a level high enough to be considered clinically significant.
Hypersexuality is characterized by a debilitating need for frequent genital stimulation which, once achieved, may fail to result in the expected long-term emotional -- or sexual -- satisfaction. This dissatisfaction is what is believed to encourage the heightened frequency of sexual stimulation, as well as additional physiological and neurological symptoms.
The concept of hypersexuality replaces the older concepts of nymphomania (or furor uterinus) and satyriasis. Nymphomania was believed to be a female psychological disorder characterized by an overactive libido and an obsession with sex. In males the disorder was called satyriasis (for etymology of the words, see nymph and satyr). "Nymphomania" and "satyriasis" are no longer listed as specific disorders in the DSM-IV, though they remain a part of ICD-10.
The threshold for what constitutes hypersexuality is subject to debate, and critics question whether a standardized diagnostic threshold even exists. Sex drive varies widely in humans; what one person would regard as a normal sex drive might be deemed to be excessive by some and low by others. The consensus among those who consider this a disorder is that the threshold is met when the behavior causes distress or impaired social functioning.
Hypersexuality may also be expressed in those with bipolar disorder during periods of mania. People who suffer from bipolar disorder may often display tremendous swings in sex drive, depending on their mood. Sometimes this physiological need for sexual activity is much higher than what they would describe as "normal" and at other times it is far below that.
- Carol Groneman, Nymphomania: A History, (London: Fusion Press, 2001)
- Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: the Journal of Treatment and Prevention, (New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1994-)
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