Pathological self-denial in the sexual arena; refusing sex or sexual overtones even when they are clearly beneficial.

As with conventional anorexia, sexual anorexia is a complex nexus involving cultural expectations, parental pressure, peer pressure and media depictions. Once established it creates (possibly psychosomatic) physical, medical and particularly behavioural reinforcement measures.

As with many conditions (including anorexia) the best chances for recovery are offered by treatment in combination with the love, understanding and emotional support of those in one's life.

I've had some negative feeback about this. The above is not meant to suggest that sex and sexual overtones are automatically bad. I'm not saying that there aren't good reasons for some people not to have sex, merely that pathological self-denial is bad. Look up Pathological.

Although sexual anorexia contains pathological aspects, the most damage results from the lived experience of sexual terror. By all means, sexual overtones, dating, relationships, and marriage comprise healthy sexuality. Sexual terror appears when a person's entire existence revolves around avoidance of sexual thought or activity. In that respect, this activity mirrors sexual addiction as the inversion, rather than extroversion, of sexual control. Sexual anorexics aren't asexual. In fact, the sexually terrified scream for affection but cannot reach out for companionship.

As someone who suspects that they are sexually anorexic, let me provide a personal perspective to this emotional reality.

While I'm not crazy about the term sexual anorexic, I recognize the aspect of starvation from human contact and esteem that can be derived from a romantic relationship. Rather, I'd consider myself a relationship avoider, declining both friendships and sexual relations. This disorder encompasses more than life behind closed doors.

While I agree with viterbiSearcher that sex can be beneficial in specific circumstances, specific denotes selectivity and not just sexuality as psychological purgative. Promiscuity rarely benefits a person's emotional and physiological makeup. Many times those engaging in indiscriminate sex end up abused and disillusioned. Intercourse strengthens relationships when mutual and unbound from codependency.

Extreme sexual fear results in utter paralysis about attraction and sexual acts, concluding in social avoidance and constant obsession about sexuality. Having been brought up in a strictly observant Catholic household, I was taught to respect heterosexual marriage as an exemplar of sexuality within shared responsibility. I carry with me the loyalty, responsibility, and healthy sexual balance in good marriage as an image of integrated sexuality. I do not wish to debate the merits of gay marriage but provide an instance of positive sexual models in religious faith. Religiousity is not entirely evil as aspects of faith mesh nicely with lived experience.

Even now I consider myself necessarily celibate as the only bulwark against sexual attractions. Celibacy itself is psychologically healthy only if lived with a realistically expected and wholesome sexual self-image. Otherwise, celibacy is just as destructive as extreme promiscuity. I have abused celibacy to the point of unrecognizability. Warped, beaten, celibacy is no longer positive but an forced burqa against the world.

Outside of accepted sexuality, I searched for ways I could convert or suppress my orientation. I tried conversion therapy, recognizing the brainwashing and impossiblity of change from what God has created. I've spent long days praying away the gay and avoiding any party or meeting that remotely attractive men frequent. I've become attached to esoteric forms of Catholicism, weaving my way through ultraconservative subsets. What has resulted?

Revulsion. My friends have introduced me to a number of different men, flabbergasted at my immediate rejection of all of them even when these men show obvious interest in me. Of course, I found a good number of them attractive but I had to push them away to save my soul, to prevent myself from getting attached and hurtling towards damnation of one sort or another. At 24 I've seized on a dysfunctional hermitage of perverse virginity.

Please visit for more information. SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) follows the Twelve Step model for recovery from sexual addiction and anorexia. Sorry St. Louis residents.

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