In ancient Greece, people believed in gods and goddesses that controlled all of nature. Ultimately their powers were reduced to written record and come to us in many books on their mythology. Nymphs were minor goddesses with some minor super-powers, usually associated with things of nature. They were feminine and "wispy." It's kind of hard to see how that word has come to be associated with nymphomania, but the Greek word "nymph" (female, woman) and mania (madness) do relate somewhat. The modern term refers to women who have a hyper sexual desire and who then act out accordingly. But do not be misled here - there is a male equivalent of this disorder too. And nymphomania can occur with same sex or opposite sex addiction.
Strong sexual desire that goes way beyond the normal is not new by any means. It probably received its first medical diagnosis during the Victorian era, when it was called "love madness." There were various "cures" for women, including cold baths and enemas, leeches, and even some damaging surgeries. Fortunately, we've come a long way.
Today, The American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual has given nymphomania a "scientific" diagnosis - Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD), sometimes also called hypersexual disorder.
You have a female partner or a person who is just a friend. And her strong sex drive is over the top. In fact, her sexual behaviour actually has you concerned. While your partner-relationship may be "open," she has multiple partners too often. While you enjoy sex, she wants more sex than you can handle. Alexandra Katehakis, clinical director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles, puts it this way: "Just as a heroin addict chases a substance-induced high, sex addicts are binging on chemicals - in this case, their own hormones."
Is she a nymphomaniac? Could be. Here's how you might find out.
The symptoms of nymphomania are not the same for all women, and the severity of the symptoms also varies. While the common belief is that a nymphomaniac is simply a woman who is a compulsive sex addict, there are many other mental health conditions that go along with her behaviour.
Remember, hypersexual behavior is a consistent urge and need to engage in sex, no matter what the consequences might be. It is not a specifically gendered disorder, and people of all gender identities suffer this disorder. The most common symptoms include:
Focusing on sexual desire and activities so much that they interfere with other aspects of life - job, family, finances, friends, personal care, etc.
Engaging in sex indiscriminately without concern for possible negative consequences, including danger to physical health
Being unsatisfied with sexual activity and constantly needing more sex
Having conflicts and other stressors in her life because of her constant need to fulfill sexual urges
Having multiple sexual partners all at the same time, often one-night stands
However, remember too that nymphomania is a mental health medical condition, and there are other behaviors that can go along with the sexual behaviors. These can be the results of earlier life events, hereditary, brain chemistry imbalance, childhood traumas (e.g, rape), other mental disorders, or even the absence of a solid, loving relationship with a father figure. These things can result in:
Feelings of inadequacy, guilt, loneliness, or depression
Feelings of inadequacy in relationships or other areas of life
Manic episodes of sexual encounters, especially for women who have bipolar disorder
Having urges and engaging in sex or fantasies of sex, as a means of escape from difficult emotional situations or life stressors
Difficulty with concentration
While excessive sexual desire is commonly attributed only to women, men can also suffer from this condition. Here are the biggest risk factors according to HealthGrades.com.
Those under the age of 30
A family history of mental illness
Homosexual gender identity (esp. in males)
Traumatic life events, often recent
Some of the complications have been mentioned above, but it's important to list them as a whole:
Anxiety and depression
Tough time completing normal everyday activities
Potential to lose employment
Potential to lose relationships - platonic and romantic
Problems in normal social situations and/or lack of a social life
At great risk for sexually-transmitted diseases.
In its extreme form, nymphomania leaves a sufferer in isolation, and this can lead to the risk of suicide.
Whether you are a friend or a lover, if you have decided that a person is probably a nymph, you need to take some action to help. Be forewarned, however, that just like any obsessive-compulsive disorder, the sexual behaviour of a nymphomaniac is not easily modified and can never be considered cured. It is a chronic condition. But if you care about this woman, then there are things you must try.
You cannot help someone with any condition unless you know as much as possible about it. Dig into nymphomania, its causes, and symptoms, as well as what professionals recommend for treatment and help.
Gather together those who are concerned and who care for this woman. Discuss your concerns and what each of you knows about her "addiction" and activities. If they are affecting your relationships with this woman, make a list of how that relationship has been affected. And each person who will be involved in the intervention must do this. This is just the beginning.
An intervention cannot occur without a plan. And that plan may need to be made by consulting an intervention specialist who can guide you as a group. There is a great article on interventions from the Mayo Clinic which should be your first reading assignment.
The goal of an intervention is to lead this woman to admit that she has a problem and to agree to get professional treatment.
Most treatments for addictive sexuality involve a combination of things, including the following:
The most common therapeutic treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It focuses on helping the addicts to identify the thought patterns that lead to the behaviors. Once those are identified, then the focus is on changing those thought patterns and thus the behaviors. Here's a simple example. Suppose a woman's behaviors include watching porn obsessively. That behavior can be modified by her identifying another type of film genre she has always liked, let's say science fiction or murder mysteries. When the urge to watch porn arises, she switches that thought to the other genre and turns that on instead. Over time, this new behavior will kick in more often and become a new behavior pattern.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP therapy) is another treatment form that can also be successful. This therapy involves exposing the "addict" to her triggers and then "walking her through" facing them and then rejecting them. This is really another type of CBT,
There are medications that can treat some of the causes or emotional results of sex addiction, but obviously, medical doctors must be involved. Psychiatrists can prescribe anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications which can help while other therapies occur.
You can make some key suggestions for how your nymph may help herself. And if you really want to turn things around, agree to participate in these activities right along with her.
Yoga is both a physical and mental program. It involves relaxation, meditation, and physical movements that coincide with these things. People who consistently practice Yoga become much more "centered" and mentally balanced. Join a Yoga class together and both of you keep up the regimen of practice outside of the class time. You may get some great benefits too.
You can do this together. Each of you should keep a personal journal that speaks to your thoughts and feelings, your fear, your challenges, etc. on a daily basis. Set aside a time when both of you sit back, relax, and make your daily journal entry at the same time. Share only if you feel like it.
While proper food will not directly relate to modification of Nymphomania, having a healthy body does contribute to mental wellness. And nymphomaniacs often forego good nutrition. Stock her fridge with great foods and eat with her.
These should in no way be related to her sexuality or sexual behaviour in general. Bars and clubs are probably not good options. However, dinner in a decent restaurant and any physical and/or outdoor activities are great - go on a float trip with other friends; go to the zoo, play miniature golf, swim, hike, go bowling - anything that does not have sexual overtones. Activities that involve physical exercise are good therapy
There are support groups for all addictions, and sexual addiction is no different. If she is nervous, go with her until she is comfortable with the environment and the people. There are also online support groups that meet regularly via tech like Zoom. Attending regular meetings is key to success, probably for the rest of her life. It can be emotionally lifting to know that there are lots of others out there with the same condition.
If you have CSBD, you might show both impulsive and compulsive behaviors. These terms refer to what motivates your sexual behaviors.
You may engage in sexual activities for pleasure, which is considered impulsive behavior. Or you could repetitively perform sexual activities to escape specific emotions, which is considered compulsive.
Sometimes, impulsive sexual behavior comes first. For example, you may have sex for fun and pleasure.
Later on, you might start engaging in compulsive behaviors. For example, having sex because you’re feeling down or to decrease anxiety symptoms.
It’s not uncommon for people with sex addiction to continue to engage in some sexual behaviors even if they don’t take pleasure in it.
Impulsive and compulsive sexual behavior may happen at different times or at the same time.
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