SATYRIASIS (Satyrism)

A sexual deviation in males consisting of an excessive or insatiable desire for gratification.The terms “excessive” and “insatiable” are difficult to define since there are wide variations in the intensity and frequency of the sex urge among normal people. Most men have a strong desire for intercourse between one and six times a week, but there are men who engage in sexual relations as much as several times a day for long periods without appearing to be abnormal. The criteria for satyriasis can therefore not be based merely on frequency of sexual activity. More important is the urgency of the impulse. In a true case, the man appears to be in the grip of a continuous, uncontrollable drive, and centers his whole life around this one form of gratification. The term priapism has been used as the equivalent of satyriasis, though it is now more often applied to a persistent erection due to organic disease rather than sexual desire. (Priapism derives from Priapus, the Greek god of procreation.)The question is why this excessive impulse occurs. The answer appears to be that the satyriasist is not physiologically “oversexed,” but uses this activity to satisfy intense emotional needs. These needs are usually on an unconscious level and vary considerably from individual to individual. One man may need constant reassurance of potency because of inner doubts about his adequacy. Another may engage in excessive heterosexual activity as an unconscious attempt to deny a latent homosexual trend. (This is frequendy the case with the “Don Juan” type.) Still another may carry on a dozen affairs at once as a means of warding off anxiety stemming from emotional conflict, or as an escape from threatening home or business problems. A fourth may be compensating for feelings of failure, disappointment, or frustration. Others must keep proving that they are attractive to women because they believe they are undersized, homely, or socially inept And, according to some psychoanalysts, men who seek conquest after conquest may be unconsciously avenging themselves against all women for disappointment experienced with their mother in early life.Many of these men not only engage in excessive sexual activity, but become obsessed with the subject of sex to a point where it dominates their entire thinking and conversation. It may even displace all other interests and interfere with their pursuit of a living. Such men are urgently in need of psychological treatment directed toward readjustment of the entire personality. Interview therapy and psychoanalytic techniques are generally employed in discovering the roots of the problem and helping the patient to resolve his conflicts and achieve greater emotional security. See EROTOMANIA.Recent research has disclosed a specific control center for the sexual driveat the base of the brain, in a structure called the amygdala. If this center is destroyed by disease or blocked off by surgery, the result is an abnormal sex drive. It is possible that damage to the amygdala is a causal factor in some cases of satyriasis, but so far there has not been sufficient medical evidence to draw any positive conclusions. See AMYGDALA, NYMPHOMANIA.Illustrative Case:George S., age thirty-two, salesman, divorced, sought psychological treatment for his constant desire for sexual relations. He gave his psychotherapist the following information about himself.The primary reason he came for help was that he was unable to continue to carry on his work satisfactorily. Because he was so preoccupied with getting sexual satisfaction, he could not concentrate on his job. In the past two years he has bad at least ten different sales jobs. Two months ago he found a job that he liked extremely well. It was his fear of not being able to hold his present job that caused him to seek treatment.The family history indicated that George grew up in a divided home. His parents never got along well. There were times when the scenes between them were so violent that George was terrified. On several occasions there were temporary separations. His father was an exacting and demanding person with perfectionistic tendencies. He often was moody and wanted to be left alone. There was never any closeness or companionship with his father. His mother was a very emotional person and had frequent crying spells. She felt sorry for herself and let George and the father know about it. Both parents disciplined George— his father would switch him, whereas his mother would send him to his room, sometimes for a whole day.A personal history showed that George was a hyperactive and restless child. He was a fitful sleeper and used to grind his teeth at night. He was enuretic until he was twelve. He remembers engaging in masturbation when he was about eight years old. He had a brother who was almost two years older with whom he frequently engaged in mutual masturbation. At thirteen he was a compulsive masturbator, engaging in the practice several times a day. He states that he had his first experience in sexual relations with a girl when he was fourteen. During his adolescence there were only occasional sexual relations. At nineteen he went into the service and during his stay for two years had numerous affairs with women who were usually older than he was. He married when he was twenty-four and was divorced four years later. He had one child, a son who is with his mother.His strong sexual desires have never subsided. Masturbation still continues on a daily basis. He has learned that it is not harmful, so he isn’t bothered by any fear of what will happen to him. His concern is primarily with his preoccupation with sex, and he is seeking psychological treatment for that reason. (Thorpe, Katz, and Lewis, 1961)

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "SATYRIASIS (Satyrism)," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/satyriasis-satyrism/ (accessed November 28, 2020).
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