Asexuality: Sexual Orientation, Paraphilia, Sexual Dysfunction, or None of the Above?
- 6.2k Downloads
Although lack of sexual attraction was first quantified by Kinsey, large-scale and systematic research on the prevalence and correlates of asexuality has only emerged over the past decade. Several theories have been posited to account for the nature of asexuality. The goal of this review was to consider the evidence for whether asexuality is best classified as a psychiatric syndrome (or a symptom of one), a sexual dysfunction, or a paraphilia. Based on the available science, we believe there is not sufficient evidence to support the categorization of asexuality as a psychiatric condition (or symptom of one) or as a disorder of sexual desire. There is some evidence that a subset of self-identified asexuals have a paraphilia. We also considered evidence supporting the classification of asexuality as a unique sexual orientation. We conclude that asexuality is a heterogeneous entity that likely meets conditions for a sexual orientation, and that researchers should further explore evidence for such a categorization.
KeywordsAsexuality Sexual orientation Paraphilia Sexual dysfunction
The authors wish to thank Tony Bogaert for providing helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. We also wish to thank Paul Vasey and an anonymous reviewer for very valuable comments that have led to a strengthened paper.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Ahlers, C. J., Schaefer, G. A., Mundt, I. A., Roll, S., Englert, H., Willich, S. N., & Beier, K. M. (2011). How unusual are the content of paraphilias? Paraphilia-associated sexual arousal patterns in a community-based sample of men. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 1362–1370.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Asexuality on 20/20. (2006). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeKGOMUVU7g.
- AVEN Forum. (2005). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/9980-masturbating-as-what-do-you-think-about-when-masturbating/?p=237288#entry237288.
- Bogaert, A. F. (2012a). Understanding asexuality. Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
- Bogaert, A. F. (2013). Demography of asexuality. In A. K. Baumle (Ed.), International handbook on the demography of sexuality, international handbooks of population (Vol. 5, pp. 275–288). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Both, S., Everaerd, W., & Laan, E. (2007). Desire emerges from excitement: A psychophysiological perspective on sexual motivation. In E. Janssen (Ed.), The psychophysiology of sex (pp. 327–339). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Carlson, T. (2006, March, 27). Asexuality on Tucker Carlson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iwxo6t7XBYs.
- Childs, D. (2009, January, 16). Asexuals push for greater recognition. ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/asexuals-push-greater-recognition/story?id=6656358.
- Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2010 Principal Investigators. (2014). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorder among children aged 8 years-autism and developmental disabilities monitoring network, 11 sites, United States, 2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(2), 1.Google Scholar
- Ginoza, M. K., Miller, T., & Members of the AVEN Survey Team. (2014). The 2014 AVEN Community Census: Preliminary findings. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.asexualcensus.wordpress.com.
- Hirschfeld, M. (1914). Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
- Jay, D. (2008). Asexuality visibility and education network. Retrieved March 1, 2011, from http://www.asexuality.org/home/overview.html.
- Johnson, M. T. (1977). Asexual and autoerotic women: Two invisible groups. In H. L. Gochros & J. S. Gochros (Eds.), The sexually oppressed (pp. 96–109). New York: Association Press.Google Scholar
- Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.Google Scholar
- LeVay, S., & Baldwin, J. (2012). Human sexuality (4th ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer.Google Scholar
- Lucassen, M. F. G., Merry, S. N., Robinson, E. M., Denny, S., Clark, T., Ameratunga, S., … Rosen, F. V. (2011). Sexual attraction, depression, self-harm, suicidality and help-seeking behaviour in New Zealand secondary school students. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45, 376–383.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ogas, O., & Gaddam, S. (2011). A billion wicked thoughts. What the Internet tells us about sexual relationships. New York: Dutton.Google Scholar
- Westfall, S. P. (2004, October, 16). Glad to be A. New Scientist, 184, 40–43.Google Scholar
- Williams, M. (2007, January, 4). The Montel Williams show discusses asexuality. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErDfQMKnwSE.
- Yule, M. A., Brotto, L. A., & Gorzalka, B. B. (in press). Sexual fantasy and masturbation among asexual individuals: An in-depth exploration. Archives of Sexual Behavior.Google Scholar