Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 817–826 | Cite as

Explanations for the Origins of Sexual Compulsivity Among Gay and Bisexual Men

  • Jeffrey T.  Parsons
  • Brian C. Kelly
  • David S. Bimbi
  • Lauren DiMaria
  • Milton L. Wainberg
  • Jon Morgenstern
Original Paper


Sexual compulsivity (SC) is a condition characterized by sexual fantasies and behaviors that interfere with personal, interpersonal, or vocational pursuits. This article describes the ways in which gay and bisexual men with symptoms of SC understand and explain the origins of their condition. The data for this article were drawn from Project SPIN, a mixed-methods study of SC among 183 gay and bisexual men in New York City. The article provides an evaluation of how urban gay and bisexual men experience SC and describes how they think about it in their own words. These men articulated both intrinsic and extrinsic sources for the development of SC. Some participants endorsed a belief in a predisposition toward sexually compulsive behavior, whereas others identified factors such as emotional neglect, sexual abuse, or the availability and accessibility of sexual partners. These understandings may influence the ways in which SC can be treated, while also highlighting issues that may be critical in the identification and/or measurement of SC. Insights into the origins of SC may yield new therapeutic models that reduce not only the distress of contending with this condition but its negative health effects and impact on quality of life.


Sexual compulsivity Gay men Sexual risk taking 



Project SPIN was funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U62 CCU217852; Jon Morgenstern, PI). Qualitative transcription, coding, and analyses were supported by a Hunter College Faculty Development Grant (Jeffrey Parsons, PI). The authors would like to acknowledge the other members of the Project SPIN Research Team: Andrea Allen, Eric Hollander, Thomas Irwin, Alicia Kaplan, James Kelleher, Andrew Kolodny, Frederick Muench, Ann O’Leary, Dennis Popeo, Lauren Priday, Ljiljana Radulovic, Payam Saadai, and James Sorrentino. The authors would also like to acknowledge Eli Coleman, Marshall Forstein, and Martin Kafka for their input into Project SPIN, and Jeremy Eggleston, Gideon Feldstein, and Juline Koken for their work on the coding of the qualitative data. The authors would like to thank Lorelei Bonet, Christian Grov, and Brooke Wells for helpful feedback on an early draft of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey T.  Parsons
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 7
  • Brian C. Kelly
    • 1
    • 4
  • David S. Bimbi
    • 1
    • 3
  • Lauren DiMaria
    • 1
    • 2
  • Milton L. Wainberg
    • 5
  • Jon Morgenstern
    • 6
  1. 1.Center for HIV/AIDS Educational Studies and TrainingNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Hunter College of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Graduate Center of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyPurdue UniversityLafayetteUSA
  5. 5.New York State Psychiatric InstituteColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyHunter College of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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