Fantasy and the internal working models held toward "comfortable interpersonal attachments" shape sexual desire: A theory applied to persons with hypersexuality

Richard A Leedes, University of Pennsylvania


The scientific study of sexual desire is characterized by a series of unconnected mini-theories and dissimilar empirical findings. This research develops a functional theory which deconstructs sexual desire to include two conceptually meaningful variables which comprise a person's “bifurcated lovemap:” an emotional disposition toward fantasy and an emotional disposition toward interpersonal relationships. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between objectified, i.e., depersonalized, sexual fantasies and interpersonal attachments, specifically investigating the “personal bias” held toward objectified fantasies among people with chronic hypersexuality, e.g., sexual addiction/compulsivity and the internal working models these persons hold toward “comfortable interpersonal attachments.” A quantitative analysis suggests that 22 (N = 22) self-identified sexual addicts were able to reduce the power of their objectified fantasies and increase their ‘underdeveloped’ sense comfort with interpersonal relationships by experiencing imagery restructuring exercises in the form of guided imageries. A thorough analysis of the data allowed for the emergence of an axiom associated with the two relevant variables: As comfort toward interpersonal relationships increases, the negative power of objectified fantasies is diminished. This study is of special significance as it provides a pragmatic model which is able to link praxis with theory. Further, the results suggest that objectified fantasies are normative, purposeful and enduring and that the meta-communication underlying their symbolic form is a mythical allegory which allows for perceived responsiveness and affirmation. As a means to support this theory's coherence, I suggest that future research be directed toward persons with sexually avoidant behaviors. This would assist in the development of an elegant theory related to the variable nature of sexual desire which is able to link both measurable variables and clear-cut points of intervention to the diversity of its expression when it obstructs humanistic expression.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Behaviorial sciences|Personality|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Leedes, Richard A, "Fantasy and the internal working models held toward "comfortable interpersonal attachments" shape sexual desire: A theory applied to persons with hypersexuality" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9926160.