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Intrapsychic and interpersonal factors related to hypoactive sexual desire Vogel, Noelle Anne


Hypoactive sexual desire is one of the most prevalent psychosexual problems seen by clinicians, yet there is little consensus as to its etiology, maintenance, appropriate therapeutic intervention or prognosis. Sexual disinterest is considered to be difficult to treat due to severe intrapsychic and/or interpersonal conflict. Few empirical studies exist, however, regarding intrapsychic or interpersonal dynamics in couples where one spouse is assigned the diagnosis of hypoactive sexual desire (HSD). The purpose of this study was to develop a clearer understanding of the intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics of the clinical group diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire. Individual and interactional data was collected from both diagnosed individuals and spouses. The sample consisted of three groups of subjects and their partners. Twenty-two subjects assigned a DSM-III-R diagnosis of lifelong or acquired, generalized Hypoactive Sexual Desire (HSD) and their spouses were compared on intrapsychic and interpersonal variables with two groups consisting of twenty-one sexually dysfunctional subjects displaying a DSM-III-R arousal or orgasm disorder (SDys) and their spouses, and 19 couples with no reported sexual dysfunction (NSD). Only subjects free from other Axis I disorders, medical illness, or substance abuse were selected. Control subjects met similar criteria but had no reported sexual dysfunction. All partners were sexually functional. Subjects were administered: the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI), the Sexual History Form (SHF), the Medical History Questionnaire (MHQ), the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the Affect Balance Scale (ABS), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS) and the Structural Analysis of Social Behavior (SASB) over a three week period. Statistical procedures used to analyse the data included Canonical Correlation, ANOVA, Profile Analysis, Hotelling's test (T²) and Student-Newman-Keuls test procedure. The test results measuring intrapsychic phenomena revealed that although all groups had normal MMPI profiles, the affect/anxiety variate was significantly elevated in the HSD and SDys groups. In addition, self concept as measured by the SASB introject was significantly more negative in the HSD and SDys groups as compared to the control group. No significant intrapsychic differences were found between partners in the three groups. The interpersonal measures indicated that HSD subjects and SDys subjects perceived their relationships as less nurturing and affirming than did control subjects. Additionally, HSD subjects and their spouses perceived their relationships as measured by the SASB to be more hostile. The study provides some evidence to support the view that HSD subjects have lower self concepts and higher relationship conflicts than do subjects with arousal or orgasm problems or control subjects. Similar to much of the previous research conducted on nonmedical aspects of human sexuality, the study design was exploratory and descriptive in nature thus removing any possibility of drawing cause and effect conclusions.

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