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Female sexual desire, subjectivity, and the problem of negative sexual objectification

14 December 1998


The most recent empirical literature and case studies indicate that Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is the most prevalent sexual disorder in adult women. Sexual desire disorders are ' among the most difficult and complex disorders to diagnosis and treat. Most of the empirical studies are atheoretical and utilize a traditional behavioral performance model to analyze and interpret data. Many case studies are primarily based on a traditional psychoanalytic perspective. It is proposed that the traditional psychoanalytic and/or behavioral models may offer too narrow a perspective of sexual desire disorders and the underlying subjective experience of female sexual desire. It is hypothesized that there may be many factors, including intrapsychic, relational, arid socioculfural processes, which may alter or impact the subjective experience of female sexual desire. The role of one specific factor, negative sexual objectification, will be described and elaborated. It is suggested that the step-wise relational and intrapsychic dynamic process of negative sexual objectification may impact and contribute to a woman's loss of her subjective experience of sexual desire. A contemporary integrative framework of the step-Wise process of negative sexual objectification is presented. It includes principles from contemporary psychodynamic, object relations and self psychology, and feminist perspectives of gender role socialization. Directions for future research and practice guidelines are suggested.


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