The proposed diagnostic criteria for Hypersexual Disorder included "[r]epetitively engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors in response to stressful life events" (Kafka, 2010, p.279) as a symptom, although no data demonstrates a causal relationship between stress and hypersexual behavior. We sought to confirm previous findings while furthering the field's understanding of this relationship by being the first study to assess stress and hypersexual behavior across multiple time points. Specifically, we sought to test three hypotheses within a sample of men seeking treatment for hypersexual behavior: 1) hypersexual individuals report higher stress levels than published norm samples; 2) stress predicts sexual thoughts, urges, and behavior at the same time point and across multiple time points; and 3) among various domains of stress, social and personal forms of stress best predict hypersexual behavior. Thirty men seeking treatment for hypersexual behaviors at residential and intensive outpatient treatment centers participated in the study. Various indices of stress (perceived stress, daily hassles, stressful life domains, and salivary cortisol), affect (boredom, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, alexithymia, and loneliness), and process (psychological inflexibility) were assessed, some across two time points. Across multiple analyses, the study did not find sufficient evidence to support a causal relationship between stress and hypersexual behavior. Supporting previous research, the hypersexual sample demonstrated significant elevations on stress, affect, and process measures compared to published norms, strengthening the assertion that hypersexual individuals experience high levels of stress and psychological distress. The implications of these findings, limitations of the methods used, and future directions for research and treatment are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





hypersexual disorder, sexual addiction, stress, psychological inflexibility



Included in

Psychology Commons