Psychologist Questions Concept of ‘Sex Drive’

“Sex drive” is a term thrown around so frequently in casual conversation that most of us probably assume that it’s unquestioned biological fact. Not so, according to Massachusetts psychologist Emily Nagoski, who claims in Medical Daily that “sex drive” or libido is not comparable to other involuntary drives like hunger. Nagoski believes sexual impulses should be discussed in a different way, and proposes new terminology.

She separates sexual desire into two categories: “spontaneous desire” and “responsive desire.” The first category corresponds with the traditional idea of “sex drive”: “When you see a sexy person or have a stray sexy thought, it activates an internal craving or urge for sex. That’s called ‘spontaneous desire.’ It feels like it comes out of the blue,” Nagoski notes.

There’s a more subtle mode, however, where you are not seized by a sudden internal desire. For example, “Your partner comes over and starts kissing your neck and you’re like, ‘Oh, right, sex. That’s a good idea,'” says Nagoski.

Not surprisingly, spontaneous desire is more common in men, with males experiencing it in 70% of cases. Only 10-20% of women experience it as their primary mode of desire.

The primary implication of Sagoski’s argument is that “low sex drive” might not need to be regarded as a medical problem. “Spontaneous desire isn’t necessary for sexual pleasure. Is it more important that people crave sex than it is that they enjoy the sex they’re having?” she observes.

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Featured image courtesy The Daily Beast

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