Lacking Sexual Desire In Women: A Dysfunction Worth Treating?

2897 words - 12 pages

It was not so long ago when nymphomania was recognised as a psychiatric disorder. Today, women are more likely to earn a diagnosis for not being 'hot for it' 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Critically analyse the research evidence surrounding female sexual dysfunction and evaluate the extent to which this condition is a problem that warrants treatment.The female libido is an elusive and misunderstood creature. Years ago cruel double standards saw women with high sexual desire labelled as fiendish nymphomaniacs but nowadays there is rapidly growing prevalence of women complaining the opposite. The problem of lacking sexual desire affects many women and definitely is a disorder worth treating. If diagnosis is correct and the causes are examined and understood, then appropriate treatment can be carried out. This sounds simple, but in practise it can be quite complex. Issues with diagnosis make incorrect diagnosis common and the deep psychological causes of some cases are not completely understood which has led to a flourish of the so-called miracle Pink Viagra. The debate and search for treatment of desire disorders in women will continue, but only with understanding of the true causes will it be successful.Before the 1980s, research on sexual desire was relatively non-existent. The reason being that sexual desire is difficult to define, quantify and compare. Freud was the first psychologist who tried to define what we now know as sexual desire. He called it the libido and hailed it as motor force of sexual life, this term and definition lie relatively unused today, as they are too vague (Knox 1984: 337). Sexual desire is the basic desire and appetite for sexual intimacy. There are six phases in a sexual activity: desire, arousal, excitement, orgasm, satisfaction and aftermath (McNab 1982: 23). Sexual desire is the first step of this chain and therefore if an individual encounters problems, the remaining phases are effected or totally blocked (McNab 1982: 23). Most understanding of sexual desire is based on clinical experience rather than any empirical evidence arising from studies or investigations into the matter (Leiblum and Rosen 1988: 116), this is mainly due to the fact that it is, as mentioned before that sexual desire is hard to define, quantify and compare.Difficulties that can arise in the phase of desire are casual desire (or Nymphomania), unpredictability of desire, low desire, absence of desire and blocked desire (McNab 1982: 23) The last three are collectively called Inhibited Sexual Desire or simply lack of desire. Desire disorders including Inhibited Sexual Desire were not recognised let alone addressed until Psychologist, Helen Singer Kaplan appeared in 1979 (Woody 1992: 61). Inhibited Sexual Desire affects both men and women but it seems to be affecting women more frequently (Knox 1984: 337; Int. Ref. 4). According to a 2003 survey of almost 20 000 women conducted by Melbourne's Latrobe University 55% of women reported having...

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