Hypersexuality: The Invisible Symptom

“Oh, you mean like a nymph? So, she’ll fuck anyone?”

I overheard my (now former) friend say to one of his friends. The tone of causality and intrigue caused me to cringe, didn’t they realize the severity of being hypersexual? Obviously not, the idea of taking advantage of her condition seemed to immediate consume his thoughts, I saw his facial expressions shift.

When people hear the term, ‘hypersexual’ they immediately direct it towards a singular idea. Usually, the concept of hypersexuality is associated with promiscuity and highly fetishized in females, due to the fascination of one being hypersensitive to touch, and easily aroused. Hypersexuality is defined as a sex addiction that causes an unusually high sex drive, but it’s far more complex in nature than the definition entails.

Unfortunately, due to the many misconceptions, hypersexuality is not often discussed as a serious, debilitating symptom of mental illness. I wrote this article to raise awareness about the stigma surrounding hypersexuality, and allow an intimate look into its debilitating effects, and negative portrayal in media.

Like many, I didn’t recognize nor truly understand hypersexuality and the impact it would have on my life. I was aware such a thing existed but thought hypersexuality was an isolated condition and would be noticeable to anyone with the condition. When my symptoms first began, I disregarded them as intrusive thoughts or sudden primal urges that would eventually dissipate throughout the day if I focused my thoughts elsewhere.

However, the sexual urges began to persist from days to weeks, intensifying if my mood shifted considerably, and would last for months, until I would undergo another significant mood change (usually ranging from extreme mania to depression), in what almost felt like a trace, I would awaken into a frenzied panic in an attempt to remember what occurred. Although, I was unaware at the time, I was experiencing the symptoms of hypersexuality offset by bipolar disorder, causing a noticeable behavioral change from reserved, precautions, and calm to erratic, self-destructive, and irrational. Studies show hypersexuality is primarily exhibited in schizoaffective disorders, manic or hypomanic states in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Cluster B disorders, specifically, Borderline Personality Disorder, but also has a direct link to Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, Parkinson’s disease, Klüver–Bucy and Kleine–Levin syndrome, and various brain injuries.

I became both deeply depressed and concerned for my well-being, as my moods became increasingly erratic. My mind consistently provoked me to act on reckless, risky, irrational thoughts to satisfy sexual obsessions that came with severe consequences. Fortunately, I was somehow able to rationalize with myself to fully understand the possible repercussions of my actions, but my curiosity remained insatiable. Eventually, I decided to vent to a close friend, Iris Salazar Garcia, about the difficulties I faced controlling my sexual libido, and she revealed hypersexuality was also a symptom of BDP. We raged about the misrepresentation of hypersexuality in media, the impact it has on society’s perspective of hypersexuality, and the double standard of men and women suffering from the condition.

Me: How has hypersexuality affected your life?

Iris: It makes me reckless, I think. I’m already impulsive, and being hypersexual doesn’t really help. I don’t really think about the consequences of my actions in the moment. For example, I’ve had unprotected sex with people I hardly knew, I’ve had public sex, I’ve sent nudes to strangers, and looking back I really wish I hadn’t done any of it.

Me: When did you first hear the term, “hypersexuality” and understand it in relational to being a symptom of BPD?

Iris: I think it was from a friend who also had BPD. As they were describing their experiences I realized that they were very similar to what I was experiencing, and that was maybe a few months after finding out I had it.

Me: Have you tried to explain the differences between hypersexuality being a primary condition versus a symptom? What kind of reactions did you receive?

Iris: I’ve only explained it to one person, and he said, “Yeah, that sounds like you.” He was very supportive.

Me: Since hypersexuality seems to manifests itself in different extremes in mental disorders, and personality, do you believe your extremes fluctuate in certain situations?

Iris: I think so. I don’t think I’m always hypersexual, if that makes sense. It comes and goes with my depressive episodes. So when it’s “gone” I’m impulsive in other aspects of my life. Like, overspending money or overeating for example.

Me: No, that totally makes sense, I’m the same way. The compulsiveness usually manifests itself differently. I’ll eat an entire meal, be insanely full, but still eat. Or, buy some extravagant item and never use it, it’s wild.

Iris: [Laughs]

Me: Do you think media impacts how society views hypersexuality?

Iris: I think that since it’s something so rarely talked about that when you tell people about it they just think, “Oh, so you just like sleeping around? That’s not an illness.” And it’s so much more complicated than that.

Me: Right? They’ll be like, “So, you’re a nymph or something?” That doesn’t sound like an issue to me” like, it’s an immediate over sexualization of the person to see if they can sleep with them.

Iris: Right? It’s so frustrating.

Me: What can be done to change the double standard of hypersexuality between men and women?

Iris: More education, first and foremost, and allowing for females to discuss their sexuality openly.

There is a definite disconnect between the media’s portrayal, and the actuality of how women are perceived sexually we must overcome. A condition such as hypersexuality is over-sexualized and glamorized in media, usually coining the character as “easy” or “loose”, yet everyone desires to be with her. She epitomizes the unattainable and dangerous trope, appealing to male audience members in an arousing nature, but in reality is shamed for her libido, and taught to repress her sexual urges to fit into society’s gender roles.



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