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Hypersexual Behavior as a Symptom of PTSD: Using Cognitive Processing Therapy in a Veteran with Military Sexual Trauma-Related PTSD


Hypersexual behavior is a construct that is well recognized yet vaguely conceptualized, leading to some arguments that it may be comprised of multiple etiologies. Childhood sexual abuse is often acknowledged as a common experience among those with sexually addictive behaviors, yet the intersection between PTSD and sexual addiction has not been fully explored. This case illustrates the use of Cognitive Processing Therapy, an empirically supported treatment for PTSD, as a means to treat both PTSD symptoms and hypersexual behaviors in a veteran who had experienced military sexual trauma. Treatment led to a meaningful decrease in both types of symptoms, even in the absence of a structured treatment approach for sexual addiction. It is argued that differential diagnosis, including functional analysis of hypersexual behaviors, is crucial in treatment planning. Further, attention to trauma and PTSD is important in veterans and others for whom PTSD is part of the etiology of hypersexual behavior; trauma-focused CBT therapies can provide a useful treatment approach in these cases.

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This manuscript is the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities at the Clement J. Zablocki VAMC, Milwaukee, WI.

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Correspondence to Sadie E. Larsen.

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Larsen, S.E. Hypersexual Behavior as a Symptom of PTSD: Using Cognitive Processing Therapy in a Veteran with Military Sexual Trauma-Related PTSD. Arch Sex Behav 48, 987–993 (2019).

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  • Hypersexual behavior
  • Sexual addiction
  • PTSD
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Military sexual trauma