What does being a nymphomaniac mean?

“She is a nympho”: this expression is often misused to designate a person with a strong sexual appetite. In reality, it is a mental illness in connection with theaddiction.

Addictive, compulsive, or hypersexuality

Etymologically, nymphomanie is the contraction of nymph and mania, or the “madness of women”. But, as Gregory Fritsch, psychotherapist* explains to us: “Today we talk more about sex addict and 80% of them would be men (according to studies by Eli Coleman, American sexologist). »

It was Joyce Mc Dougall, psychoanalyst and essayist of New Zealand origin, who introduced the term addictive sexuality at the end of the 1970s. This concept then replaced those of donjuanisme or nymphomania. In any case, it is a sexual behavior disorderresulting from anxiety.

What are the causes of sex addiction?

“It is above all the relief that is sought”, explains the expert. This behavior may be related to a feelings of emotional insecurity, frustration intolerance, emotional overflow, difficulty with marital stability, emotional or social isolation (despite or because of dating sites and apps), masked depression, etc. Ideas around sexuality then take up more space.

Possible neuroscientific reasons

“In imagery, we have noticed that the neurons which allow us to feel emotional information can be disturbed in certain cases of sex addiction, but we don’t really know why”, specifies Gregory Fritsch.

Four distinct phases identified in nymphomania

As for other types of addiction, specialists have identified different phases of this pathology: “The North American psychiatrists RC Reed and D. Blaine proposed in their nosological description a breakdown of the cycle of sexual addiction according to four stages . »

  • Obsession : because the person has existential difficulties that she cannot manage, she will focus her mind on sex. This invasion of the psychic sphere comes in response.
  • Ritualisation : this idea of ​​systemization is always present even if it differs depending on the individual.
  • sexual act : to obtain temporary relief from existential suffering
  • Despair : due to the inability to control oneself = feeling of helplessness.

Then we go back to phase 1.

We get into action to try to very punctually relieve the problem that inhabits us, but that does not solve it. Once the act is over, it is found in a boomerang. The illusion falls and the sadness, the remorse, the feeling of shame and guilt, them, go up…

How does this addiction to sex manifest itself?

Hypersexuality can manifest itself in several ways:

  • flirt or compulsive sex, in which the other is considered only as a partial object and where there can therefore be no real relations with him;
  • masturbation very frequented : we consider that from 5 to 15 times a day, we are in addiction (according to Eli Coleman’s addictive sexuality screening evaluation grid);
  • compulsive fixation on an unreachable partner or on the contrary, multiple romantic or sexual relationships ;
  • extremely clear split between sexuality and love, etc.

“Overall, the feeling is replaced by the sensation: it is the body that receives the desired ‘semblance’ of affective nourishment”, explains our clinical psychologist.

Several levels of dependency

Who says addiction says several levels of dependence: there can be occasional experimentation, occasional or festive use, or regular, even systemic use, often accompanied by abuse and excess. It is rather in the latter cases that people suffer.

The concept of suffering in question

“In cases of strong addiction, we will probably choose to go to places that allow us to satisfy our sexual urges, or to graft this behavior with new technologies, or to resort to prostitution. It can also become the person’s only hobby and there it becomes painful, because the individual feels that he cannot get out of the gears, ”continues our expert.

In addition, these addictive sexualities are often linked with comorbidities such as the consumption of drugs (GHB, Poppers, cocaine, etc.). This increases the risky behavior (like barbackings: sexual orgy with HIV partners).

What solutions when you are a nymphomaniac?

“In patient care, the idea is to talk in a neutral and benevolent setting, to find solutions adapted to the personal problems of the individual, but also to allow him to appreciate a relationship that is not sexual, in order to be able to transpose this relationship into his own life. But sometimes this condition is difficult to detect because people don’t talk about it or realize how serious it is. »

To be a “nymphomaniac” is to try to relieve suffering or an existential problem through compulsive sexual relations, addictive or hyperactive. However, as Gregory Fritsch reminds us, all of this is not immutable:

The seriousness of sexual and love addiction depends on the psychic structure of the person concerned. Just because you’re addicted once doesn’t mean you’ll always be. Of course, this can change.

Good for you and your balanced sexuality.

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What does being a nymphomaniac mean?


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