Updated: Jul 7
Introducing the Problem – Understanding Obsessive Sexual Behaviour
(This article provides an overview of obsessive sexual behaviour and the potential causes that may be contributing to this condition. It is important for individuals to seek professional help in order to address any underlying issues and develop effective treatment plans. With a combination of self-reflection, psychotherapy, and medication, many people are able to manage their condition and live a fulfilling life)
Obsessive Sexual Behaviour (OSB) is defined as a pattern of compulsive and repetitive sexual activities that are difficult for an individual to control. These behaviours, which can include excessive masturbation, loss of interest in other activities, persistent attempts to engage in inappropriate sexual contact with others, or viewing pornography for long periods of time, can have a significant impact on an individual’s life. People suffering from OSB may experience guilt, shame, and anxiety related to their behaviour and may begin to avoid intimate relationships or other activities that could lead to sexual encounters. Left untreated, this condition can interfere with social interactions, relationships, and productivity in the workplace or at school.
Causes of Obsessive Sexual Behaviour
There are several potential causes of OSB, including biological, psychological, and social factors. Biological factors can include a predisposition towards impulsive behaviour or an underlying physical health issue. On the biological side, OSB is often linked to conditions such as hypersexuality, or impulsivity that can create an uncontrollable urge for sexual gratification. Additionally, some physical health issues such as thyroid disorders or nutritional deficiencies can contribute to OSB. (Gabrielson AT, Sartor RA, Hellstrom WJG. The Impact of Thyroid Disease on Sexual Dysfunction in Men and Women. Sex Med Rev. 2019 Jan;7(1):57-70. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.05.002. Epub 2018 Jul 26. PMID: 30057137) Psychological factors such as stress, depression, and anxiety may also lead to increased levels of sexual behaviours. Social influences like peer pressure or the availability of pornography can also contribute to the development of OSB. Additionally, individuals with a history of sexual abuse or trauma may be more prone to developing this condition.
What is Psychotherapy and How Can It Help with Obsessive Sexual Behaviour
Psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy that focuses on the thoughts and behaviors of an individual. It is a form of counseling that can help individuals address underlying issues that may be contributing to obsessive sexual behaviour (OSB). Through psychotherapy by a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT: https://www.londonpsychotherapy.ca), individuals can learn to understand their feelings and motivations for engaging in OSB, as well as develop effective strategies for managing the condition.
Psychotherapy can involve a variety of techniques, including cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP). CBT focuses on helping individuals identify and challenge negative thoughts that fuel OSB, while ERP helps individuals to confront their compulsions and resist them through controlled exposure. In addition, psychotherapy can provide a safe and confidential space for individuals to discuss their feelings, gain insight into their behaviours, and develop coping strategies that are tailored to the individual's needs.
Identifying the Root of Your Sexual Anxiety
Identifying the root of your sexual anxiety can be an important step in managing and reducing obsessive sexual behaviours. Sexual anxiety is a common factor that can both contribute to and result from OSB, making it an important area to be aware of when looking for underlying causes of OSB. Sexual anxiety often stems from past experiences, beliefs and expectations, or physical health conditions. It’s important to work with a mental health professional (https://www.londonpsychotherapy.ca)to help identify the root causes of your anxiety and develop strategies for managing them. Additionally, relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and breathing exercises can help to reduce the intensity of sexual anxiety.
Overcoming Negative Beliefs about Sex Through Therapy
Many people who struggle with obsessive sexual behaviour (OSB) often have underlying negative beliefs about sex. These beliefs can be rooted in past experiences, society’s expectations, and stereotypes, or simply a lack of knowledge about sexuality. Negative beliefs about sex can contribute to feelings of anxiety, shame and guilt which can further exacerbate OSB. As such, it’s important to address these beliefs in order to manage OSB.
By engaging in therapy, individuals can gain insight into their behaviours related to sex, identify triggers that lead to negative thoughts and feelings and create a plan for managing their behaviours. Going through therapy under the Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT/IITAP) individual will be able to gain more insight to obsessive nature of the behaviour. During the process of therapeutic intervention, the client get access to more information about their sexual behaviour through SDI. (The Sexual Dependency Inventory (SDI) 4.0 is a battery of relevant tests organized into one cohesive report. Additionally, the SDI gathers data on various aspects of problematic sexual behavior including typical patterns of consequences, evolution and timing of behavior and thought patterns, as well as therapy readiness. Information is also collected and evaluated on drug use, masturbation, paraphilias, and internet usage behaviors. The results portrayed within the SDI are extremely important for clinicians when establishing a treatment plan for their clients. Having all of this information available in one report and being able to address 144 different sexual behaviors is essential when treating a complex process addiction such as sex addiction).
Finally, reaching out for support when needed can be beneficial for managing OSB. Connecting with an online community or a trusted friend can help individuals to feel less alone and more empowered in their journey.
Obsessive sexual behavior can be a difficult and painful struggle, but by understanding its causes and seeking help, it is possible to overcome distressing thoughts and be more in control of your own sexual behaviour. Through psychotherapy, individuals can learn how to take charge of their thoughts and feelings of physical arousal, rebuild positive self-esteem surrounding sex, identify the root cause of their sexual anxiety, and ultimately overcome negative beliefs surrounding sex. Understanding the power of your mind in overcoming disordered behavior is key: often it’s our mental state that leads us down a harmful path. Just as psychotherapy can teach us how to cope with uncomfortable feelings and urges associated with dysfunctional patterns of sexual pleasure-seeking behaviors, it also helps us develop personal awareness & sensitivity toward ourselves as well as our partners so that healthy boundaries & relationships become possible. If you are looking for support under these circumstances or would like to explore ways for overcoming obsessive sexual behaviour through psychotherapy, please do not hesitate to contact London Psychotherapy today! https://www.londonpsychotherapy.ca/contact OR Call (226) 779-8130
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National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Obsessive compulsive disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
UCSF Medical Center. (2018). Cognitive behavior therapy: Overview and guidelines for practice. Retrieved from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/cognitive_behavioral_therapy_overview/.