Hypersexuality: psychopathology or normal variant of sexuality?

N. J. Rinehart, M. P. McCabe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


There is much controversy in the literature about what constitutes excessive sexual behavior and the extent to which the behavior can be considered a psychopathology. Historic and contemporary labels used to conceptualize excessive sexual behavior - e.g. nymphomania, satyriasis, sexual addiction, sexual dependency, sexual compulsivity and sexual impulsivity - are discussed. From the research literature is it not clear whether excessive sexual behavior is associated with low or high levels of sexual desire, or low or high levels of sexual satisfaction. This paper is concerned with the current use a the term hypersexuality and the extent to which 'excessive' sexual behavior is associated with the symptoms that characterize addiction, dependency, compulsivity and impulsivity. It is proposed that the use of labels such as sexual addiction, sexual compulsivity and impulsivity is both premature and diagnostically hazardous, since research has yet to clarify whether pathological symptoms consistent with these labels, such as anxiety and impulse control, are in fact associated with excessive sexual behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-60
Number of pages16
JournalSexual and Marital Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

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