NYMPHOMANIA (Andromania)

A sexual deviation in females consisting of an excessive or insatiable desire for gratification.In nymphomaniacs, the desire for sexual stimulation and gratification is so intense and insistent that it tends to overshadow all other activities. Many of these women not only engage in promiscuous intercourse but also masturbate several times a day. The sources of the drive are closely parallel to those for satyriasis, excessive desire for sexual activity in the male. Many nymphomaniacs are basically frigid women who are unconsciously attempting to prove their sexual normality and adequacy. In some cases constant intercourse is an unconscious attempt to deny or disguise latent, unrecognized homosexual tendencies. Psychoanalysts usually trace this compulsive need to early childhood. Redlich and Freedman (1966) state, “Both the ‘Don Juan’ with a need for sexual intercourse with countless women and an inability to enter into a deeper relationship, and his counterpart, the nymphomanic woman, have profound character neuroses. Usually, seduction in childhood and pathological attachments to frustrating or permissive parental figures are found in the life histories of such patients; paradoxically, the promiscuous ‘save themselves’ for an unobtainable ‘true love’”—that is, they make a sharp distinction between sex as a physical need (or way of making a living) and an expression of love and devotion. This enables them to obtain immediate gratification while at the same time preserving a romantic, idealistic hope.Other causal factors may apply in certain cases. In some women excessive sexual activity may be a response to emotional tension, though this is more likely to be the case with males than with females, since tension usually diminishes sexual desire in women. Today very few investigators attribute the drive to excessive hormone secretions, but there is a possibility that a small number of cases are due to lesions in the amygdala, a structure located at the base of the brain.Illustrative Case:Margaret W., age thirty-eight, married, requested psychological help for her excessive desire for sexual gratification. She had consulted her physician for some type of medication that would reduce her sexual drive. Her physician, after evaluating the situation, referred her for psychotherapy.Ever since she was in grammar school Margaret had evidenced a strong sexual drive. She was a chronic masturbator at the age of ten. Her parents at that time took her to the family doctor, who reassured them she would grow out of it. She had her first sexual intercourse at thirteen and had numerous affairs by the time she was eighteen. At that time she became pregnant and married the man who was the father. After two years of marriage she was deserted. She has had three marriages since and they all have ended in divorce. While married she would carry on several affairs with a variety of men—her neighbor, the insurance agent, a grocery clerk, and often a man whom she had simply picked up.Margaret’s parents were divorced when she was three. She never knew her real father. Mother went to work after the divorce and placed Margaret in a boarding home during the day. Her mother was always tired, irritable, and temperamental. She resented having to go to work and take care of the baby without any support from the father. At night Margaret was put to bed early so that mother could relax. Margaret can recall that she engaged in some masturbation at the age of about five (when she started school).When Margaret was seven her mother remarried. The stepfather was a severe and strict person. He rarely gave Margaret any affection although he brought her home toys from time to time. When Margaret misbehaved he would strap her with his belt, sometimes with the buckle end. She recalls resenting her mother for marrying him, and resenting her stepfather for being so strict and harsh with her.As a child Margaret was always tense and high-strung. She woujd cry easily and sometimes would cry herself to sleep. She had frequent nightmares and on several occasions walked in her sleep. She was quiet and shy and had difficulty in making friends. At school she did poorly in her academic subjects but got along well with the students and teachers.Throughout the years the masturbation continued and increased as she got older. In high school she recalls masturbating several times a day. Then she heard that it was wrong, and that it would cause her to become insane. She tried hard to stop the habit but was never able to be successful. While in high school she started to run around with a number of “fast” boys and had sexual relations with several of them. It was while she was in her senior year that she became pregnant and got married. She never went back to school to get her diploma.Margaret was aware of her sexual problem. She stated that at about twenty-five she consulted a doctor for her condition and was given some type of medication. It did not give her any relief. She decided she would try to change herself by getting her mind on other things. Her strong desires continued to be present and she continued to engage in sexual relations. A few months ago she again decided to try and do something about her strong sexual desires. She consulted her physician, who referred her for psychotherapy. (Thorpe, Katz and Lewis, 1961)

Cite this page: Nugent, Pam M.S., "NYMPHOMANIA (Andromania)," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/nymphomania-andromania/ (accessed January 20, 2019).
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