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AVENguy

Psychology students needed for historic project!

22 posts in this topic

As some folks now form recent threads, some of us are putting together a project to change what the medical world thinks about asexuality. Th e Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM) is up for review, and we have a plan to get a bunch of doctors and scientists, and the DSM working group itself, talking about changing the definition of Hyposexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) so that it no longer treats asexual people as pathological.

It's an extremely ambitious project with some fantastic implications for the asexual community if we succeed. We need your help if you are:

-A professor, graduate or undergraduate student in psychology(Bonus if you have easy access to a university library.)

-A recent graduate in psychology

-A currently practicing psychologist or psychiatrist

If you don't meet these criteria but know some AVENites who do, please get in touch with them!

If you are selected to be on our DSM team, you will be doing outreach to scientists and therapists to discuss their opinions on asexuality and HSDD. You will need to commit about 2 hours a week to this project (we are making a point of organizing everything so that the time commitment is minimal). If all goes well, people from this group will be formally advising the DSM working group on sexual dysfunction, which is a cute CV item.

If you are interested please contact info@asexuality.org with the following information:

First name:

AVEN SN:

IM address (if you have one):

Level of study: (e.g. 2nd year grad student)

Area of study if applicable:

University:

A copy of your CV (if you have one and it's handy.)

We'll be in touch with you with more information about the project. Depending on how many volunteers we get we may not have a role for everyone right away, but we hopefully will down the road!

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I'd suggest asking for shrinks--um, psychiatrist, also, to get the medical end of it. They may see as many or more asexuals as psychologists.

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*bump*

cuz this is important!

~Cashew

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I'm an undergraduate (soon to be third year) Sociology student at a university here in Ontario. I have contacts with people in the psychology department, including a few psychologists who teach and specialize in the area of Human Sexuality. I know I'm not in psychology myself, but due to the direness of this situation, is there any way that I could be of help... even if it were to access publications at my university or ask for opinions or views from psychologists who do study at the institution I attend?

I'm also wondering, what is the time frame on this project? How long do we have to put information together?

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I think that probably something related to psychology (like sociology or clinical social work) would probably be okay. It can't hurt to apply. (The word "apply" makes it sound so formal.)

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Given that the DSM is published by an association of psychiatrists, I'd have thought input from that field would be very important.

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Is this US-based only?

I'm about to go into my final year of Psychology at Liverpool University in the UK.

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The DSM committee for sexual and gender identity disorders is made up of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, so we need people who are either psychiatrists or clinical psychologists to make our main arguments for us. The problem is that we aren't sure if there are any self-identifying asexuals who are in either of these groups (there probably are asexuals in these groups, but we don't know who they are. If anyone happens to know any, feel free to encourage them to help.) Because of this, we need to have some people to talk to therapists about the subject and through the process we can become better informed and hopefully make some good contacts to get others to make the arguments for us (after talking to people, we should have an idea of who has favorable opinions about us.) For this, it would be good to have people whose background would be helpful in talking to people about the subject.

As for the country, the people on the sexual and gender identity committee are mostly in North America, but not exclusively. (Cynthia Graham was formerly at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, but is currently at Oxford. I think there is also a Swediish member and a Dutch member as well.) So I don't think living in north america should be a problem.

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Yup - you need psychiatrists. The DSM is published by the American Psychiatric Publishing Company and the contributors are mainly MDs.

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Yeah, so long as anyone not in N America can make skype calls to north america and deal with the timezone difference.

The "application" process isn't the rigorous. We just want to have a sense of people's background.

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I had some thoughts about HSDD and the DSM in general and started a new thread:

asexuality not a disorder

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Not sure if this is dead subject or not since I thought I recall reading a thread about asexuality not being classified as a disorder in the DSM.

**stands on soap**

I am not majoring in psychology, but by the end of 2009 when I graduate may have enough to have a minor in it.

Off and on for the past number of months when I have been able to find the time I have been doing my independent research and literature review attempting to discern for myself if there is any validity to asexuality being the result of a medical/psychological disorder.

And in summary this is some of what I have found:

-More recent studies indicate that the average age of first sexual attraction is around age 10. This finding is so far the same across sex and across heterosexual and homosexuals. Not surprisingly experience of first sexual attraction is followed by first sexual fantasy followed by engaging in sexual behavior. One study put the age of first sexual attraction around 9.6 with a standard deviation of 3.6. On a standard normal curve most people ought to have felt their first sexual attraction by age 20.

-The link between depression and a decreased or abscent desire for sex is unclear. 1) A person may feel depressed as a result of being frustrated because of a lack of sexual desire (lack of sexual desire --> depression). 2) The reverse could also be true someone feels depressed and they experience a decreased sexual desire (depression --> lack of sexual desire). Also there is some evidence that for a small, but significant number of people depression and anxiety can increase a person's interest in sex. Further complicating this can be the compound of being diagnosed with depression and taking medications that are documented to medal with a person's sex drive. And this may just be ruled irrelevant because of it being conjecture, but most people are going to experience a period of depression in their lives at some point in their lives so I don't think this is a good explanation.

-The possibility of asexuality being associated with or caused by hormone levels or in some cases the result of endocrine problem seem possibly credible.

Both hypothyroid/hyperthyroid have been documented to cause a lack of sexual desire. However not that I have seen has there been any documentation of how common it is for people to have this symptom who are diagnosed with this. I have so far only found one study that documents sexual dysfunction before and after recieving treatment for a hypothyroid/hyperthyroid condition. But even this study is inadequate since it does not document how many of the men in the study experience a complete lack of sexual desire and how many merely experienced a decrease.

I have read estimates that around 1 in every 3,000-4,000 births and 1 in around 3,500 children are born with hypothyroidism. In 90% of cases it persists throughout life. In 85% of the cases the thyroid is missing, improperly situated or underdeveloped. Be interesting to know how many of this group have problems with sexual desire...

Much like the relaitonship between depression and lack/decrease of sexual desire the relationship between hormones and sexual desire is also unclear (and much of the research around hyposexual desire disorder has focused on women--I believe.)

In some cases taking testosterone, or estrogen has been observed to raise sexual desire, but these treatments have had roughly the same outcome as women taking a sugar pill. And I believe researchers have assumed that viagra would do for women what it has done for men with a relatively small improvement in sexual desire.

In pre-, peri- and post- menopausal women it has been observed that women who have lower levels (but still considered within the normal range) have a decreased sexual desire.

Currently I believe there is a drug by the name of Intrinsa in development for women to increase sexual desire that has demonstrated significant results in the high 70's percentage of women who experienced an increase in sexual desire.

-Epilepcy could also be a possible candidate, in some cases. Epilepcy can develop at any time in a person's life so it would be most relevant to track and study those who are diagnosed with it at a young age. Epilepcy can cause sexual dysfunction, but this can be coufounded by both medications for epilepcy and psychological factors e.g. fear of having a seizure while having sex.

I need to delve a little more and see if I can find some more studies on this, but it seems a lot of information about this specific topic is anecdotal as well.

-The possibility that asexuality is associated with, or caused by sexual abuse I find to be dubious based on what I have looked at. Definitions of sexual abuse are very different from study to study. Just suggesting that such a link exists between asexuality and sexual desire is an overgeneralization because there are so many factors that should be considered: the relationship between the victim and abuser, the length of time over which the abuse occured, when the abuse started and stopped, did they recieve social support when they came forward and said they were being abused, to what degree/severity were they abused.

Also for many victims of sexual abuse or sexual abuse as a child over a period of time they do regain sexual desire.

-Autism Spectrum Disorder: not a lot of research has been done here as it pertains to sexuality.

Similar to the claim of childhood sexual abuse people who have are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder are a very heterogeneous group and I'm sure there is a fair amount of over diagnosis.

On the whole I would say I large majority of people with an autism spectrum disorder have the same amount of interest and desire for sex as the rest of the general populaiton.

I recall reading one study that was done had a relatively small sample size, but I remember very clearly they remarked there was one person who seemed to have no interest in sexual activity/relations what so ever.

-Religion or negative attitudes about sex has been brough up a lot, but again doesn't seem it has been adequately studied empirically.

Once again there is a lot of variation within religious groups and just because someone is non-religious doesn't mean they couldn't have problems.

And just saying that religion is the problem is again rather simplistic. What is probably of greater importance is how much the religious congregation portrays and espouses a negative image of sex, the degree a person internalizes it and how rigid/compromising a person or religious group is in their judgement of sexual expression/sexual behavior/sexual desire as a bad thing.

Considerations:

Being asexual as defined by experience no sexual attraction is compounded with direction of attraction and general desire/interest in sex.

Some decrease in sexual function appears to be normal as people get older and or experience health problems, but currently there does not seem to be guidelines dictating when sexual function declines on average.

Very few studies seem to distinguish between a decrease in sexual desire and a complete abscence of it and lump the two together in analysis and discussion.

And many studies seem to have an inadequate sampling size, a shaky methodology and/or their write up and analysis is inadequate.

**steps down off soap box**

Thought I should say something since I have been looking into this.

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Thanks EGAD, I've been slowly trying to read up on some of the relevant literature. If you could give my the references for the articles that you read, it would be really helpful. The impression that I've gotten so far in reading stuff dealing with low sexual desire is that almost nothng is based on actual data. "Clinical observation" (which is a psychologcial euphemism for the post hoc fallacy) is the source of most of what is "known."

In the things that I've read, I did find a few differences though. For Intransia, the study only dealt with women who had had both ovaries removed (and we can't assume that it would work for other women.) Also, I've read that the absolute change in sexual desire was higher than placebo for a lot of people, but it was only slightly higher--I think they had about one sexual encounter per month more. With autism spectrum conditions, there was one study (I think 2007?) that had about a sample size of about 100 women or so (my memory is fuzzy), but about 17% of them chose "asexual" for their sexual orientation (and about 13% chose bisexual.)

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Thanks EGAD, I've been slowly trying to read up on some of the relevant literature. If you could give my the references for the articles that you read, it would be really helpful. The impression that I've gotten so far in reading stuff dealing with low sexual desire is that almost nothng is based on actual data. "Clinical observation" (which is a psychologcial euphemism for the post hoc fallacy) is the source of most of what is "known."

In the things that I've read, I did find a few differences though. For Intransia, the study only dealt with women who had had both ovaries removed (and we can't assume that it would work for other women.) Also, I've read that the absolute change in sexual desire was higher than placebo for a lot of people, but it was only slightly higher--I think they had about one sexual encounter per month more. With autism spectrum conditions, there was one study (I think 2007?) that had about a sample size of about 100 women or so (my memory is fuzzy), but about 17% of them chose "asexual" for their sexual orientation (and about 13% chose bisexual.)

I very literally have a large binder full of articles I have been collecting related to sexuality, asexuality and anything that could possibly be related to it.

I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in what I have found or not so I tried to summarize and it has only been within the past few days I have resumed my search for more information.

It will probably take a few days to post all the information for my sources (author/s, title, year, publication, etc.) for you to be able to find them so stand by:

http://adam.about.com/reports/000038_1.htm

http://www.epilepcy.org.uk/info/men/sexuality.html

http://www.theuniversityhospital.com/epile.../livingwith.htm

http://www.epilepcy.com/101/ep101_epilepcy

http://www.epilepsy.com/101/ep101_who

http://www.epilepsy.com/101/ep101_cause

http://www.epilepsy.com/101ep101_risks

http://www.nyuepilepcy.org/cec/living/life...nships_sex.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000356.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/ar...53.htm#Symptoms

http://www.armourthyroid.com/hypothyroidism/symptoms.html

http://www.armourthyroid.com/hypothyroidism/who.html

Epilepsy, Sex Hormones, and Antiepileptic Drugs

Richard H. Mattson and Joyce A. Cramer

Raven Press: New York

Copyright International League Against Epilepsy

Epilepsy volume 26 Suppl. 1: S40-S51 <-- p. #'s 1985

http://thyroid.about.com/od/hyperthyroidis.../a/overview.htm

http://thyroid.about.com/od/hyperthyroidis.../overview_2.htm

http://thyroid.about.com/cs/basics_startth.../thyroid101.htm

http://thyroid.about.com/cs/basics_startth...pochecklist.htm

http://thyroid.about.com/cs/basics_starthe...erchecklist.htm

Multicenter Study on the Prevalence of Sexual Symptoms in Male Hypo- and Hyperthyroid Patients

Cesare Carani, Andrea M. Isidori, Antonio Granata, Eleonora Carosa, Mario Maggi, Andrea Lenzi and Emmanuele A. Jannini

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

Copyright 2005

Downloaded from jcem.endojournals.org

Rethinking Puberty: The Development of Sexual Attraction

Martha K. McClintock and Gilbert Herdt

Department of Psychology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Volume: 5; Number: 6 December 1996

Published by Cambridge University Press

The Role of Sexual Functioning In The Sexual Desire Adjustment and Psychosocial Adaptation of Women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire

David Farley Hurlbert, Evan R. Fertel, Devendra Singh, Ferdinand Fernandez, D.A. Menendez, Camila Salgado

The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, Vol. 14(1-2) 2005

Therapeutic Dilemmas: Solving Sexual Difficulties in the Context of Religion

Julian W. Slowinski

Journal of Sex Education and Therapy Vol 26 No 4

Female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Treatment

Julia 'Jill' K. Warnock

CNS Drugs 2002: 16 (11) 745-753

Correlates of Sexual Functioning Among mid-life Women

Gallicchio C. Schilling, D. Tomic, S.R. Miller, H. Zacur and J.A. Flaws

Climacteric 2007; 10: 132-142

Sexual Abuse in Childhood and Sexual Dysfunction in Adulthood: An Australian Population-Based Study

Jake M. Najman, Michael P. Dunne, David M. Purdie, Francis M. Boyle and Peter D. Coxeter

Archives of Sexual Behavior Vol. 34 No 5 October 2005 p 517-526

Problems with Sexuality After Sexual Assault

van Berlo, Willy

Annual Review of Sex Research 2000 Vol 11

Child Sexual Abuse

CharlesFelzen Johnson

www.thelancet.com Vol 364

Severity of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Symptoms Differences Between Men and Women

Vaughn Heath, Roy Bean and Leslie Feinauer

The American Journal of Family Therapy Vol 24 No 4 Winter 1996

This ought to give you something to do till I can post more of my sources.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Whoa been gone for a while...

Here is some more stuff coming at you.

Hyperprolactinaemia in Children - A common Diagnostic Dilemma

Francesco Massart and Giuseppe Saggese

Business Briefing: European Endocrine Review 2006

http://www.pituitary.org.uk/content/view/55/

Journal of Psychopharmacology

Medical causes and consequences of hyperprolactinaemia. A context for psychiatrists

Richard IG Holt

online version of article can be found at:

http://jop.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/22/2_suppl/28

http://www.virtualwomenshealth.com/diseases.asp?did=152

Medication-Induced Hyperprolactinemia

Mark E. Molitch

Mayo Cli Pro. August 2005; 80(8):1050-1057

www.mayoclinicproceedings.com

http://www.emedice.com/ped/TOPIC1099.HTM

http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec19/ch282/ch282d.html

Revealing Assumptions: Explicating Sexual Orientation and Promoting Conceptual Integrity

Michael R. Kauth

Journal of Bisexuality Vol. 5(4) 2005

http://www.haworthpress.com/web/JB

The Magic Age of 10

Gilbert Herdt and Martha McClintock

Archives of Sexual Behavior Vol. 29 No. 6 2000.

I would be interesting to know about the study you got the statistic from that 17% of autistics identify as asexual. So far I have only been able to find one study dealing with autism and sexuality and in the literature review section it indicated prior research was problematic because of being difficult to determine how much of the measured outcomes could be attributed to mental retardation and how much to an autistic spectrum disorder.

How did they operationalize the question? And did they use the word asexual in the way we use to mean someone who does not experience sexual attraction?

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Thanks. This should be very helpful! (And it'll give me plenty of reading to do in the little bit of my summer break that's left.)

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I think this project is very exciting and I hope you are successful. Would it be possible to have an update on how it's going?

Thanks

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I'm currently doing a PHD in sociology. Could this be of any use? It sounds like a really interesting and worthwhile project.

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We're wanting to interview people who would be involved in using the DSM. If you know anyone in clinical psychology or in psychiatry at your university who researches sexuality and you would be willing to put us in contact with them, that would be very helpful.

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I'm a psych major senior currently (graduating this summer yay)with an empasis on sexualities as alternative sexuality is the field I plan to do research in. I'll ask around the department for professors who would be on our side, I think I know a couple and I'll see if they mind me throwing their email to the lovely people here at AVEN for this. Makes me wish we were a few years from now since next year this time I should be finishing my Masters in research and going to on my PhD in psych of sex. Ah well. Ill let you know as soon as I can.

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you do realise the last post in this thread before yours okame was back in jan 2009? :rolleyes:

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I am an undergraduate student (psychology major), and I have the opportunity to do research with the potential of publication. While I don't think I would be able to do study that would reach the people who matter, I just wanted to give my opinion to anyone who will do research. I think, if we as an asexual community want to create research that will be accepted by the psychological community, we should review the research articles that have been written on homosexuality. If we know the methods that those researchers used to redefine homosexuality, we can then create research of our own that relates to asexuality.

However, I do not think that the definition of hypoactive sexual desire disorder will be changed - it is a disorder - esp. for sexuals who want to be sexually active, but are unable to for various reasons. The definition of hypoactive sexual desire disorder is the following: "HSDD is characterized as a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity for some period of time. For this to be regarded as a disorder, it must cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulties and not be better accounted for by another mental disorder (i.e. depression), a drug (legal or illegal), or some other medical condition". As you can see here, the key idea is that it is only a disorder if it is harmful to oneself or others.

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