Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 67–77

Sexual Desire and Linguistic Analysis: A Comparison of Sexually-Abused and Non-Abused Women


  • Alessandra H. Rellini
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at Austin
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Texas at Austin
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10508-006-9076-9

Cite this article as:
Rellini, A.H. & Meston, C.M. Arch Sex Behav (2007) 36: 67. doi:10.1007/s10508-006-9076-9


Although studies have identified a relationship between a history of child sexual abuse (CSA) and problems with hypoactive sexual desire, little is known about the potential cognitive and affective mechanisms involved in the sexual desire of women with a history of CSA. In this study, 27 women with a history of CSA and 22 women with no history of abuse were asked to write about sexual and non sexual topics. The Linguistic Inquiry Word Count software program was used to compute the percentage of words that fell into positive emotions, negative emotions, body, and sex categories. As expected, women with a history of CSA used more negative emotions words when writing about sexual topics, but not non-sexual topics, compared to non-abused women. Women with a history of CSA also used more sex words when writing about the non-sexual topics compared to non-abused women. Frequencies of body and sex words used in the sexual texts were positively linked to levels of sexual desire function. This association was not different between women with and without a history of CSA. A history of CSA remained an independent predictor of levels of sexual desire dysfunction even when taking into consideration the language used in the sexual texts, indicating that there may be aspects of the sexual desire experienced by women with a history of CSA that differ from non-abused women that remain unexplored.


LanguageChild sexual abuseSexual desireSexual functionLinguistic analysis

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006