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CNS Spectr. 2000 Jan;5(1):60-4.

Sexual disorders not otherwise specified: compulsive, addictive, or impulsive?

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa.


Paraphilias are recurrent and intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving nonhuman objects. These paraphilias cause the suffering or humiliation of the patient or patient's partner, or children, or other nonconsenting persons. However, in many patients symptoms involve more culturally acceptable patterns (eg, repetitive masturbation, Internet pornography); such hypersexual symptoms have been labeled as compulsive, addictive, or impulsive. Growing evidence supports the existence of a discrete syndrome characterized by recurrent and intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving patterns that fall outside the definition of paraphilia. There is, however, high comorbidity with paraphilia. While such symptoms have been labeled as sexual compulsion or addiction, these terms are problematic in this context. Modern nosology has neglected this entity, although the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), category of sexual disorders not otherwise specified includes hypersexual behaviors as an example. We suggest that the DSM-IV category of sexual disorders be modified to include explicitly diagnostic criteria for a disorder characterized by hypersexual symptoms involving patterns that fall outside of the current definition of paraphilia. The disorder might be classified as one of the paraphilias, or as paraphilia-related. In the absence of a comprehensive understanding of the pathogenesis of this disorder, we suggest that it simply be termed hypersexual disorder.

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