Categories

The story and understanding of nymphomania

Before the mid-20th century when medical literature was dominated by the writings of male physicians, it comes as no surprise that excess sexuality in women blew many minds. The questions surrounding oversexed females were many: Did the problem of oversexed women originate in the brain or the genitalia? Could female sexuality be successfully curtailed without surrendering them to asylums and medical facilities? Masturbation and sexual excess had long been diagnosed in men as a disease and mental disorder, though often it was understood as boys being boys. But now women were increasingly deviating from the popular female archetypes of being passive, self-controlled, and maternal. During a time when the female orgasm was barely understood, one can only imagine the perplexing scope of nymphomania to the medical community. The story of the nymphomania and females is one of taboos, misunderstandings, and evolution.

Perplexing scope of nymphomania

Perplexing scope of nymphomania

Nymphomania is defined as the excessive sexual desire in women. For one reason or another, female sexuality has long been viewed as a taboo in many cultures. Among the more popularly assigned symptoms of this disorder include persistent thoughts of sexual images, constant masturbation, promiscuity, or even substance abuse and depression. In her book Nymphomania: A History, Carol Groneman accredits a French physician Bienville for being the first to explore the concept of nymphomania in his 1771 treatise, Nymphomania, or a Dissertation Concerning the Furor Uterinus. Among his accusations in this treaty, he argues that indulging in “secret pollutants” (i.e. masturbation) is rooted in a “mental derangement caused by the imagination.” Scientific thought was directionless as to how to remedy nymphomaniacs: for example, religiously inclined attached demonic-influences to masturbation (which surprisingly has not entirely faded), while the more mechanical physicians debated Bienville’s assumption on the role of imagination in nymphomania. Solutions were wild and many, from the application of leeches to the genitalia to the surgical removal of the clitoris to a first-class ticket to the local mental institution.

READ  Dyspareunia

As the field of mental health developed so did the understanding of nymphomania. Thinkers such as Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey contributed to a better understanding what nymphomania meant and did not mean by shifting the focus on the power of the mind. The American Psychiatric Association’s official report, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) mirrored the evolving and uncertain views towards nymphomania by listing it first as a “sexual deviation” in 1951 before “upgrading” it to “psychosexual disorder” in its third report in 1980. Finally, it was abandoned altogether as an addiction or disorder.

The reality is that as long as there are no satisfactory answers to understanding high female libidos and whether it is socialized or psychosexual, it will never be understood. Though today the DSM does not considered to be a real disorder, nymphomania is often believed to be a symptom of bipolar disease, particularly the manic phase of the disease. Other origins cited by psychologists are rooted in pains during psychosexual development, such as sexual abuse as a child.

[ad#downcont]Furthermore, although there exists an equivalent to nymphomania in males known as ‘satyriasis’, there has been and continues to be a double standard between views towards male and female sexuality. Even today, nymphomania is approached with bias and uncertainty. Whereas in the past nymphomania was overly diagnosed as an illness, today nymphomania is hardly recognized as an illness or addiction in the same vein as drug abuse or other forms of pathological self-abuse. Unlike centuries past, people are not likely to confuse simple horniness with compulsions, but the line still is ambiguous as to the causes and effects of nymphomania.

Comments are closed.