The Roles of Shame and Guilt in Hypersexual Behavior


Gilliland, Randy; South, Mikle; Carpenter, Bruce N.; and Hardy, Sam A.


2011 in The Journal of Treatment & Prevention

  • Researchers found that with those being treated for compulsive pornography consumption, feeling guilt was associated with healthy change, while feeling shame seemed to fuel problematic porn habits.
Although clinical accounts and studies of persons with compulsive/ addictive behavior often address shame, and sometimes guilt, no study examines the interplay of shame and guilt in maintenance of hypersexual behavior. Persons seeking treatment for compulsive pornography use (n = 177) reported shame, guilt, hypersexuality, and motivations to change through anonymous, online surveys. A path model demonstrated significant positive relationships between shame-proneness and hypersexuality, and between guilt-proneness with both... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "We proposed that shame would be positively predictive of hypersexual behavior, while guilt would be positively predictive of motivation to change and also the likelihood of performing specific behaviors to limit hypersexuality. Results from this sample of people receiving therapy for pornography use support both hypotheses... Guilt had a reliable negative predictive relationship with hypersexuality while shame had a reliable, negative predictive relationship with motivation to change and self-reported change behaviors"
  • "Hypersexual behavior may be engaged as a maladaptive substitute or deflection of existing shame rather than seeing shame only as the result of such behavior. This may lead to a vicious circle of behavior and consequence that feeds itself repetitively."
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