Theoretical Perspective of Sexual Dysfunction essay


Human sexuality involves the capacity of human beings to harborerotic feelings and responses. The complexity of human sexualitytriggered scientists to conceive various theories to explain humanattitudes, experiences and orientation towards sexuality. Also, thereare various ways of expressing sexuality, including, thoughts,fantasies, desires, beliefs, and attitudes. These ways may manifestthemselves biologically, physically, spiritually, emotionally andsexually. This paper will outline various theories of humansexuality, including, the psychoanalytic, cognitive, learning, andsocial exchange theory. It will also outline the most appropriatetheory to explain Rupert’s condition. Also, it will detail howvarious factors in the clients` environment contributed to hisbehavior.

Psychoanalytic Theory

Sigmund Freud developed the theory, and it was adopted for treatingmental disorders by investigating the interaction of elements in anindividual`s conscious and unconscious minds. Sigmund designed thetheory to bring out any repressed fear and conflicts into theconscious mind (Pajaczkowska &amp Ward, 2014). The unconscious mind,as described by Freud, exposes the true feelings, emotions andthoughts of an individual. Theorists use different methods to accessthe unconscious mind. According to Pajaczkowska and Ward (2014), themethods include free association, analyzing dreams, and hypnosis.Dream analysis is a common method since theorists believe that theyare full of latent content. The content describes the meaningunderlying in a given dream. The theory assumes that human behavioris deterministic. According to Pajaczkowska and Ward (2014), thepsychoanalytic theory also works on the basic assumption that humanbeings harbor sexual and aggressive drives. Therefore, their behavioris a result of the interaction between irrational forces, theunconscious mind, and the biologically charged drives. As a result ofthe deterministic nature of human activities, those who profess thepsychoanalytic theory do not believe in the ideology of free will.

A major merit associated with the theory is that it has helpedpsychologists in emphasizing and analyzing the importance ofchildhood experiences. The theory also addresses the importance ofthe unconscious sexual and aggressive desires that dominate thepersonality of most people (Pajaczkowska &amp Ward, 2014). It alsoexplains the defense mechanisms and the reason behind individualreactions. However, some scientists have criticized the theory forits lack of compiled evidence on the impact of an individual’senvironment on behavior. Also, the theory does not include the effectof culture on an individual’s personality.

Cognitive Theory

The theory was developed by Jean Piaget, and it asserts that childrenand adults have varied thinking and logical capabilities. Accordingto Piaget, children have a basic mental structure that acts as aframework to which they attach the information they collect in theirsurroundings. Unlike other theorists, Piaget concentrates onchildren’s development and focus on development rather thanlearning (Yarber et al., 2013). H e also proposed discrete stages ofdevelopment, whereby, children make significant milestones in theirthinking and logic.

The theory indicates that cognitive development has four main stages,including, Sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational andformal operational stage. Piaget refers to the ability of anindividual to transit from one stage to another successfully as anadaptation. However, not all individuals are successful in thetransition.

From a human sexuality perspective, the comprehension of the processof sexual arousal is imperative in understanding the consequentsexual responses. According to Yarber et al. (2013), the cognitivecapacity of the brain can facilitate or inhibit a sexual cycleresponse. Additionally, the interpretation of a stimulus dictates howan individual responds to it. The cognitive development that childrenhave allows them to associate different activities to theircapacities (Yarber et al., 2013). For example, children may relatepornography with achieving an erection. Without it, they may find itdifficult to become aroused.

Learning Theory

Learning theory involves a conceptual framework that describes howinformation is absorbed, processed and retained during the learningprocess. According to Yarber et al. (2013), in understanding a givenideology, the emotional and environmental influence play asignificant role in the attitudes that people form. Behavioralscientists indicate that learning is triggered by a given reward. Theability to learn relies largely on what they already know. Theacquisition of knowledge, according to the learning theory, should bea modified process that addresses the needs of individual learners(Yarber et al., 2013).

From a human sexuality perspective, the family, the society andpersonal experiences have the capacity of shaping an individual’sunique sexual attitudes and behaviors. Learning theory examines theinfluences of the environmental factors on acquiring knowledge.During childhood, the forces of id and ego are always in play.Children are likely to pursue activities that bring pleasure to them(Yarber et al., 2013). For example, when children learn aboutmasturbation without any parental guidance, they benefit from thepleasure. Also, pornography at a young age makes them harbor sexualfeelings that they satisfy through masturbation. Therefore, whenthere is no pornography, they may find it hard to get an erection andmaintain it.

How Neuroscience Assists in Understanding the Issue

Although sex is primarily the processes of joining the male andfemale genes to form an offspring, scientists have discovered that,it is a complex function that involves various facets of the brain.The brain is the largest organ that controls the sexual urge.According to Einstein (2007), sexual desire is the culmination ofdifferent mechanisms of neural nature controlled by the brain. Theeuphoric and the pleasurable experience present during sex emanatesfrom the limbic system. The amygdale area of the brain stimulates therepetition of a pleasurable activity. Also, sexual desires in malesand females are controlled by hormones, progesterone, and estrogenwhose secretion is controlled by the brain (Einstein, 2007).

Hypoactive Sexual Disorder is characterized by low levels of sexualdesires and fantasy without the effect of any drug. According toEinstein (2007), any abnormality in the orbit frontal cortex anddamage extending to the limbic area is a major cause of low sexualdesire. In men, an activation of the gyrus rectus that is foundwithin the medial orbi frontal area, which occurs when one isobserving sexual material, causes low sexual disorder (Einstein,2007).

Rupert has a history of watching pornography and engaging inmasturbation. Although he stopped masturbation, he has not quitwatching pornography. Neuroscience is outrightly explicit of thecause of his hypoactive sexual disorder. By watching the sexuallyexplicit material, he activates his gyrus rectus leading to inabilityto have an erection without looking at pornographic content.

Learning as the Most Effective Theory

Rupert’s condition involves the interface of various factors in hisenvironment that have shaped his behavior and consequently his sexualdysfunction. According to Wiederman and Whitley (2012), gainingknowledge is a process that is influenced by various factors in theenvironment. First, Rupert’s family was very silent in matters ofsexuality. His father did not orient him to a responsible sexualbehavior, and he left him to learn from play magazines. Theresponsibility of teaching shifted from the parent to the media.However, it is worth noting that the media does not always providerelevant content for learners in different age brackets. This is whyparental guidance is a primary requirement. Instead of learning howto control his sexual behavior, Rupert learned how to masturbate fromthe play magazine.

Secondly, the learning provides that during childhood, the forces ofid and ego do not always conflict like in adulthood (Wiederman &ampWhitley, 2012). Children tend to pursue activities that give thempleasure. When the behavior is not controlled, it continues toadulthood. As a young boy, Rupert found masturbation and watchingpornography fulfilling. As he became an adult, he cannot perform wellsexually without watching the sexually explicit material.

Besides, the learning theory best describes Rupert’s behavior andsexual dysfunction since it asserts that reward motivates human tolearn (Wiederman &amp Whitley, 2012). As a child, Rupert relied onthe magazines that he could access. Then, as he gained access to acomputer at home and at work, he began engaging in watching onlinepornography. He derives pleasure from watching and meeting strangersfor sex despite having a wife. The motivating factor is the pleasurehe derives from his exploration rather than any family problem. Forexample, Rupert confirms being in a good relationship with his wife.

The Systems Perspective

The family perspective theory indicates that the family is aself-regulating system that has an internal self-control through aprocess of trial and error. According to Stavros (1991), the rules ina family are unique in each setting. The children unconsciously takesexual behavior as one of the ways to get control over one’s life.It is directly related to the family climate, and it becomes a normin the family. The behaviors are also adaptive to the familyenvironment (Stavros, 1991). For example, Rupert’s parents werevery silent on the sex issue. Similarly, Rupert kept his sexualbehavior a private affair to avoid disappointing his distant andconservative parents.

Also, in Rupert’s family, the dysfunction is a triangle as outlinedin the systems perspective. A two-person relationship becomesunstable after one of the partners suffers a sexual dysfunction. Theexpectations of the other partner are not met. According to Stavros(1991), there is a tendency, therefore, for the parties to involve athird individual to stabilize the relationship. The systemsperspective gives room for other players in the lives of people in afamily, and it explains why Rupert and his wife allow a psychologistto help in solving his sexual dysfunction.


Conclusively, human sexuality is a complex issue that is onlyunderstood through a series of theories. The psychoanalytic, learningand cognitive theories are some of the ideologies that explainindividuals’ sexual behavior and attitudes. Rupert’s sexualdysfunction is best described by the learning theory. Rupert learnedto satisfy his id through masturbation and watching pornographicmaterial. Neuroscience indicates that a continued watching ofpornographic material to elicit sexual feelings affect the gyrusrectus leading to Hypoactive sexual disorder. The systems theory alsotakes the family as a unit that controls its behaviors throughinternal mechanisms. However, when the capacity of the methods islimited, the family seeks to stabilize itself by involving anoutsider. It explains why Rupert and his wife allow the psychologistto correct his dysfunctional behavior.


Einstein, G. (Ed.). (2007). Sex and the brain. Cambridge,Mass. Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Pajaczkowska, C., &ampWard, I. (2014). Shame and sexuality: Psychoanalysis and visualculture. New York N.Y.: Routledge.

Stavros, M. K.(1991). Family systems approach to sexual dysfunction in neurologicdisability. Sexuality and Disability, 9(1), 69-85.

Wiederman, M. W., &ampWhitley Jr, B. E. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook for conducting researchon human sexuality. Abingdon: Psychology Press.

Yarber, W. L.,Sayad, B. W., &amp Strong, B. (2013). Human sexuality: Diversityin contemporary America. New York N.Y: McGraw-Hill.