Reference : The cognitive effects of anxiety on sexual arousal
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Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Theoretical & cognitive psychology
The cognitive effects of anxiety on sexual arousal
Kempeneers, Philippe mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > Département des sciences de la santé publique > Département des sciences de la santé publique > >]
Pallincourt, Romain [Alexians' Psychiatric Hospital, henri-Chapelle, Belgium > > > >]
Blairy, Sylvie mailto [Université de Liège - ULg > Département des sciences cognitives > Psychologie clinique cognitive et comportementale >]
Cognitive psychology research developments
Weingarten, S.P.
Penat, H.O
Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
[en] anxiety ; attention ; sexual dysfunctions ; erotophobia ; sexual arousal ; cognitive interference ; working memory ; plethysmography ; cognitive psychology
[en] Anxiety and sexual arousal have often been considered as incompatible. Since the end of the 20th Century, however, researches have impaired theories centred on the inhibitory effect of the stress and on peripheral explanations; they rather focus attention on the complexity of the relations between the two states and on cognitive mechanisms.
<br />Now sexual arousal tends to be regarded as a complex response that requires the convergent interpretation of internal and external stimuli. Anxiety may have different effects on this process, sometimes neutral, sometimes facilitating and sometimes inhibitory.
<br />On the one hand, anxiety can trigger a vegetative emotional reaction that may be associated to a concomitant erotic stimulation. Thus, anxiety facilitates the sexual response: this can be called a priming effect. This effect is regularly observed in labs, mainly among women. It likely also works in certain compulsive sexual behaviours or, more commonly, in those numerous persons that report being sexually aroused when stressed.
<br />On the other hand, anxiety can cause a massive irruption of non erotic cues in working memory. Therefore, cognitive function available for treating erotic stimuli is diminished and sexual response is impaired. This is an effect of cognitive interference. A trait called erotophobia could be regarded as a vulnerability factor to cognitive interference. Erotophobic subjects are characterized by a trend to focus upon danger-related information when they are in a sexual situation and by a higher risk of sexual dysfunction.
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