chapter  22
28 Pages

Psychopathology, Sexuality, and the Partner Relationship

ByAmy Wenzel, Lydia C. Jackson, Jennifer R. Brendle

Although the past decade has witnessed an increase in the number of studies examining the effects of psychopathology on close, romantic relationships, little work has investigated the interplay between psychopathology, close relationships, and sexual functioning. In this chapter information about relationship and sexual functioning is integrated for several types of psychopathology, including depression, mania, borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and alcoholism. In general, there appears to be a bidirectional association between psychopathology and the quality of close relationships, such that symptoms of psychopathology impair functioning in relationships, and problems in relationships exacerbate symptoms of psychopathology. Depressed and anxious individuals appear to suffer from pervasive sexual dysfunction, as many of these individuals report difficulties with desire, arousal, and orgasm. In contrast, other types of psychopathology are characterized by a more complex pattern of sexual functioning, such that individuals with some disorders engage in normative levels of sexual activities but report a lack of enjoyment or particular types of dysfunction. This review clearly suggests that the quality of romantic and sexual relationships in individuals with psychopathology is impaired; however, continued researchmust be conducted to identify the causal relations among these variables.