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"TURNING OFF": HOW SEXUAL DESIRE IS INHIBITED - INHIBIT SEXUAL DESIRE AND PAINFUL PAST EXPERIENCES?
Other ISD sufferers perceive certain sexual situations a dangerous because of painful past experiences. Still others fear intimacy. They believe making love might bring more closenes than they can tolerate, or that a partner will become dependent on them, hurt them, or leave them. And many think that giving in to sexual feelings will distract them from more important matters, while a few simply want out of their present relationships but feel guilty or afraid to say so.
Obviously, the physical, psychological, and interpersonal causes of ISD are varied and complex. For now, however, it will suffice to say that:

  • ISD occurs because, for one reason or another sexual feelings themselves are considered dangerous, create, anxiety, conflict with other feelings, or are objectionable, and therefore they are shut down or not acted upon,
  • Most ISD sufferers do not consciously know that the inhibit their sexual desire, but instead believe that the rarely feel desire or never experience it at all.

This last belief may be a matter of perception or faulty learning. Tim and Maggie—as well as a number of other patients we have treated—rarely recognize their own states of sexual arousal, never learned how to turn themselves on, experience very few sexual cues as sexually stimulating, and have a limited amount of experience in feeling sexual pleasure. As a result, they label themselves as "not very sexual" and behave accordingly.
More common, however, are the ISD sufferers who know what desire and arousal feel like—because they experienced it in the past or still experience it in certain situations—but who rapidly, and for the most part unconsciously, shut it down.
But the greatest number of people with sexual desire problems may not be suppressing desire at all. They are the men and women in relationships with partners whose level of sexual desire is noticeably different than their own.
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