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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2008 Dec;31(4):587-91. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2008.06.007.

Classifying hypersexual disorders: compulsive, impulsive, and addictive models.

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University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch 7701, Cape Town, South Africa.


In closing, we argue for two conclusions. First, there are advantages to using theoretically neutral terms (such as hypersexual disorder) that go beyond the compulsive-impulsive-addictive distinctions. Although the notion of theory-neutral observation cannot be defended, it is important not to rely on any particular theoretical framework before all the evidence is in. Our current nosology employs a range of contradictory terms and frameworks (eg, impulse control disorder, compulsive gambling and buying, trichotillomania, and kleptomania). In keeping with the approach taken in other DSM categories, it may be useful to find a more theory-neutral term that can cut across these conditions. Second, any conclusions drawn here about the nosology of hypersexual disorder must be tempered by the relative lack of rigorous psychobiological and systematic treatment data. A better understanding of the psychobiology of hypersexual disorder might provide greater confidence in one or the other theoretical model. The A-B-C model proposed here is tentative at best, given the relative absence of supporting data. Further, a richer assessment and treatment literature would allow clearer conclusions about the clinical utility of different nosological approaches. We emphasize the need for much additional work to characterize the phenomenology and psychobiology of hypersexual disorder and other conditions characterized by affective dysregulation, behavioral addiction, and cognitive dyscontrol, in the hope that such research would ultimately lead to improved assessment and management.

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