Sexual Anorexia

asexual

Sexual anorexia is a term used to describe a loss of ‘appetite’ for romantic-sexual interaction. However, the term is used broadly and can be better defined as a fear of intimacy to the point that the person has severe anxiety surrounding sex with emotional content i.e. in an intimate relationship. The concept was first mentioned by psychologist Nathan Hare in 1975.

The term also applies to individuals who appear to have a sexual addiction which is expressed through a variety of behaviors such as the compulsive use of strip clubs, prostitutes,internet porn sites, etc. but more accurately fit the definition of sexual anorexic in that they seem to lack the ability to have a relationship of a sexual nature beyond a paid-for or anonymous experience.

The person does not have an aversion to sex but to intimacy. A sex addict is more likely to be capable of being in a more intimate relationship and is often married or in a committed relationship when deciding to get treatment for his or her addiction. A sexual anorexic may have a social phobia or be so fragile emotionally that the risk of rejection or criticism is far more frightening than being isolated. Narcissistic traits are often seen in both sexual anorexics and sex addicts.

Treatment is aimed at helping the person see where their fears really are and to see the world in less black and white terms. The patient is encouraged to take calculated risks with social activities and distorted thinking is gently challenged with facts and reality. The goals for both sex addicts and sexual anorexics is to learn to have healthy sex and get emotional needs met in direct ways, and to set healthy boundaries. This is an issue that requires ongoing treatment in planned stages with the end goal of autonomy, independence, and improved social relationships.

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