Folie à deux is a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief are projected from one individual to another. The same syndrome shared by more than two people may be called folie à trois, folie à quatre, folie en famille or even folie à plusieurs (“madness of many”). Recent psychiatric classifications refer to the syndrome as shared psychotic disorder (DSM-IV) (297.3) and induced delusional disorder (F.24) in the ICD-10, although the research literature largely uses the original name. The disorder was first conceptualized in 19th century French psychiatry.
This case study is taken from Enoch and Ball’s ‘Uncommon Psychiatric Syndromes’ (2001, p181): Margaret and her husband Michael, both aged 34 years, were discovered to be suffering from folie à deux when they were both found to be sharing similar persecutory delusions. They believed that certain persons were entering their house, spreading dust and fluff and “wearing down their shoes”. Both had, in addition, other symptoms supporting a diagnosis of emotional contagion, which could be made independently in either case.
This syndrome is most commonly diagnosed when the two or more individuals concerned live in proximity and may be socially or physically isolated and have little interaction with other people.
Various sub-classifications of folie à deux have been proposed to describe how the delusional belief comes to be held by more than one person.
- Folie imposée is where a dominant person (known as the ‘primary’, ‘inducer’ or ‘principal’) initially forms a delusional belief during a psychotic episode and imposes it on another person or persons (known as the ‘secondary’, ‘acceptor’ or ‘associate’) with the assumption that the secondary person might not have become deluded if left to his or her own devices. If the parties are admitted to hospital separately, then the delusions in the person with the induced beliefs usually resolve without the need of medication.
- Folie simultanée describes either the situation where two people considered to suffer independently from psychosis influence the content of each other’s delusions so they become identical or strikingly similar, or one in which two people “morbidly predisposed” to delusional psychosis mutually trigger symptoms in each other.
Schizophreniform disorder is a mental disorder diagnosed when symptoms of schizophrenia are present for a significant portion of the time within a one-month period, but signs of disruption are not present for the full six months required for the diagnosis of schizophrenia.
The symptoms of both disorders can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, and social withdrawal. While impairment in social, occupational, or academic functioning is required for the diagnosis of schizophrenia, in schizophreniform disorder an individual’s level of functioning may or may not be affected. While the onset of schizophrenia is often gradual over a number of months or years, the onset of schizophreniform disorder can be relatively rapid.
Like schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder is often treated with antipsychotic medications, especially the atypicals, along with a variety of social supports (such as individual psychotherapy, family therapy, occupational therapy, etc.) designed to reduce the social and emotional impact of the illness. The prognosis varies depending upon the nature, severity, and duration of the symptoms, but about two-thirds of individuals diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder go on to develop schizophrenia.
Schizophreniform disorder is a type of mental illness that is characterized by psychosis and closely related to schizophrenia. Both schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), have the same symptoms and essential features except for two differences: the level of functional impairment and the duration of symptoms. Impairment in social, occupational, or academic functioning is always present in schizophrenia, but such impairment may or may not be present in schizopheniform disorder. In schizophreniform disorder, the symptoms (including prodromal, active, and residual phases) must last at least 1 month but not more than 6 months, while in schizophrenia the symptoms must be present for a minimum of 6 months.
If the symptoms have persisted for at least one month, a provisional diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder can be made while waiting to see if recovery occurs. If the symptoms resolve within 6 months of onset, the provisional qualifier is removed from the diagnosis. However, if the symptoms persist for 6 months or more, the diagnosis of schizophreniform disorder must be revised. The diagnosis of brief psychotic disorder may be considered when the duration of symptoms is less than one month.
The main symptoms of both schizophreniform disorder and schizophrenia can include:
- disorganized speech resulting from formal thought disorder,
- disorganized or catatonic behavior, and negative symptoms, such as
- an inability to show emotion (flat affect),
- an inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia),
- impaired or decreased speech (aphasia),
- a lack of desire to form relationships (asociality), and
- a lack of motivation (avolition).
Delusional disorder is an uncommon psychiatric condition in which patients present with circumscribed symptoms of non-bizarre delusions, but with the absence of prominent hallucinations and no thought disorder, mood disorder, or significant flattening of affect. For the diagnosis to be made, auditory and visual hallucinations cannot be prominent, though olfactory or tactile hallucinations related to the content of the delusion may be present.
To be diagnosed with delusional disorder, the delusion or delusions cannot be due to the effects of a drug, medication, or general medical condition, and delusional disorder cannot be diagnosed in an individual previously diagnosed with schizophrenia. A person with delusional disorder may be high functioning in daily life and may not exhibit odd or bizarre behavior aside from these delusions. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines six subtypes of the disorder characterized as erotomanic (believes that someone famous is in love with him/her), grandiose (believes that he/she is the greatest, strongest, fastest, most intelligent person ever), jealous (believes that the love partner is cheating on him/her), persecutory (believes that someone is following him/her to do some harm in some way), somatic (believes that he/she has a disease or medical condition), and mixed, i.e., having features of more than one subtypes. Delusions also occur as symptoms of many other mental disorders, especially the other psychotic disorders.
The DSM-IV, and psychologists, generally agree that personal beliefs should be evaluated with great respect to complexity of cultural and religious differences since some cultures have widely accepted beliefs that may be considered delusional in other cultures.Learn More
A night terror, also known as a sleep terror or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia disorder that predominantly affects children, causing feelings of terror or dread. Night terrors should not be confused with nightmares, which are bad dreams that cause the feeling of horror or fear. An estimated 1-6% of children have at least one night terror in their life but have no memory of the occurrence.
Children from age two to six are most prone to night terrors. They affect about fifteen percent of all children, although people of any age can be affected. Episodes may happen for a couple of weeks then suddenly disappear. The symptoms also tend to be different, with the child being unable to recall the experience. While nearly arisen, hallucinations occur.
Children who have night terrors are usually described as ‘bolting upright’ with their eyes wide open, and a look of fear and panic. They will often scream. Further, they will usually sweat, breathe fast and have a rapid heart rate (autonomic signs). Although it seems like children are awake during a night terror, they will appear confused, be inconsolable, and will not recognize others.
Strong evidence has shown that a predisposition to night terrors and other parasomniac disorders can be passed genetically. Though there are a multitude of triggers, emotional stress during the previous day and a high fever are thought to precipitate most episodes. Ensuring the right amount of sleep is an important factor. Special consideration must be used when the subject suffers from narcolepsy, as there may be a link.
Though the symptoms of night terrors in adolescents and adults are similar, the etiology, prognosis and treatment are qualitatively different. These night terrors can occur each night if the sufferer does not eat a proper diet, get the appropriate amount or quality of sleep (e.g. sleep apnea), is enduring stressful events in their life or if they remain untreated. Adult night terrors are much less common, and often respond to treatments to rectify causes of poor quality or quantity of sleep. There is no scientific evidence of a link between night terrors and mental illness. There is some evidence of a link between adult night terrors and hypoglycemia. In addition to night terrors, some adult night terror sufferers have many of the characteristics of depressed individuals including inhibition of aggression, self-directed anger, passivity, anxiety, impaired memory, and the ability to ignore pain. When a night terror happens it is typical that person can wake themself up screaming, kicking, and often can not make out what they are saying. Often the person can even run out of the house (more common among adults) which can then lead to violent actions.Learn More
Transvestic fetishism is having a sexual or erotic interest in cross-dressing. It differs from cross-dressing for entertainment or other purposes that do not involve sexual arousal and is categorized as a paraphilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. (Sexual arousal in response to donning sex-typical clothing is homeovestism.)
Transvestic fetishism refers specifically to cross-dressing; sexual arousal in response to individual garments is fetishism. Occurrence of transvestic fetishism is uncorrelated to occurrence of gender identity disorder. Most men who have transvestic fetishism do not have a problem with their assigned sex.
Some male transvestic fetishists collect women’s clothing, e.g. nightgowns, babydolls, slips, brassieres, and other types of nightwear,lingerie, stockings, pantyhose, shoes, and boots, items of a distinct feminine look and feel. They may dress in these feminine garments and take photographs of themselves while living out their secret fantasies. According to the DSM-IV, this fetishism has been described only in men.
There are two key criteria before a psychiatric diagnosis of “transvestic fetishism” is made:
- Recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, urges, or behaviour, involving cross-dressing.
- This causes clinically significant distress or impairment, whether socially, at work, or elsewhere.
Thus, transvestic fetishism is not diagnosed unless it causes significant problems for the person concerned.Learn More
Sadomasochism broadly refers to the receiving of pleasure—often sexual—from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain or humiliation. The name originates from two authors on the subject, Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. A subset of BDSM, practitioners of sadomasochism usually seek out sexual gratification from these acts, but often seek out other forms of pleasure as well. While the terms sadist and masochist specifically refer to one who either enjoys giving pain (sadist), or one who enjoys receiving pain (masochist), many practitioners of sadomasochism describe themselves as at least somewhat of a switch, or someone who can receive pleasure from either inflicting or receiving pain.
The acronym S&M is often used for sadomasochism, although practitioners themselves normally drop the & and use the acronym SM or S/M. Sadomasochism should be differentiated from the clinical paraphilias which require that such practices lead to clinically significant distress or impairment for a diagnosis. Similarly, sexual sadism within the context of mutual consent should not be mistaken for acts of sexual violence or aggression.
The combination of sadism and masochism, in particular the deriving of pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting or submitting to physical or emotional abuse. 1. (Psychology) the combination of sadistic and masochistic elements in one person, characterized by both aggressive and submissive periods in relationships with others 2. sexual practice in which one partner adopts a sadistic role and the other a masochistic one Abbreviation SM Compare sadism, masochismLearn More
As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia (or paedophilia) is defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons age 16 or older) typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children (generally age 13 years or younger, though onset of puberty may vary). The child must be at least five years younger in the case of adolescent pedophiles (16 or older) to be termed pedophilia. The term has a range of definitions, as found in psychiatry, psychology, the vernacular, and law enforcement.
The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) defines pedophilia as a “disorder of adult personality and behaviour” in which there is a sexual preference for children of prepubertal or early pubertal age. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM), pedophilia is a paraphilia in which a person has intense and recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about prepubescent children and on which feelings they have either acted or which cause distress or interpersonal difficulty. The current DSM-5 draft proposes to add hebephilia to the diagnostic criteria, and consequently to rename it to pedohebephilic disorder.
In popular usage, pedophilia means any sexual interest in children or the act of child sexual abuse, often termed “pedophilic behavior.” For example, The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary states, “Pedophilia is the act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.” This common use application also extends to the sexual interest in and abuse of pubescent or post-pubescent minors. Researchers recommend that these imprecise uses be avoided; people who commit child sexual abuse commonly exhibit the disorder, but some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia, which only pertain to prepubescents. Additionally, not all pedophiles actually commit such abuse.
Pedophilia was first formally recognized and named in the late 19th century. A significant amount of research in the area has taken place since the 1980s. Although mostly documented in men, there are also women who exhibit the disorder, and researchers assume available estimates underrepresent the true number of female pedophiles. No cure for pedophilia has been developed, but there are therapies that can reduce the incidence of a person committing child sexual abuse. In the United States, following Kansas v. Hendricks, sex offenders that are diagnosed with certain mental disorders, particularly pedophilia, can be subject to indefinite civil commitment, under various state laws (generically called SVP laws) and the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. At present, the exact causes of pedophilia have not been conclusively established. Research suggests that pedophilia may be correlated with several different neurological abnormalities, and often co-exists with other personality disorders and psychological pathologies. In the contexts of forensic psychology and law enforcement, a variety of typologies have been suggested to categorize pedophiles according to behavior and motivations.Learn More
Frotteurism refers to a paraphilic interest in rubbing, usually one’s pelvis or erect penis, against a non-consenting person for sexual gratification. It may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area. A person who practices frotteurism is known as a frotteur. The majority of frotteurs are male and the majority of victims are female, although female on male, female on female, and male on male frotteurs exist. Adult on child frotteurism can be an early stage in child sexual abuse. This activity is often done in circumstances where the victim cannot easily respond, in a public place such as a crowded train or concert.
Usually, such nonconsensual sexual contact is viewed as a criminal offense: a form of sexual assault albeit often classified as a misdemeanor with minor legal penalties. Conviction may result in a sentence or psychiatric treatment.Learn More
Exhibitionism refers to exposing bare female breasts and/or buttocks of either a male or female. When genitalia is exposed the behavior is more commonly described as indecent exposure. Exhibitionism is an overall psychosocial concept that, when applied to physical actions, denotes two separate phenomena.
The first, colloquially referred to as flashing, involves the exposure of a person’s “private parts” to another person, in a nonthreatening manner, in a situation where these would not normally be exposed, such as in a social situation (in front of other people) or in a public place. The act of flashing, particularly when done by females involving the breasts but also when involving her vagina and also her buttocks, may be at least partially sexual in intention, i.e. to prompt the sexual arousal of those being flashed (in turn giving the flasher an ego boost). However, flashing may also simply be intended to attract the non-aroused ‘attention’ of another or others, or for shock value.
The second, indecent exposure, involves the same sorts of exposure done in a threatening manner or in a manner perceived by those being exposed-to as threatening. Indecent exposure, when it is assessed to be this, is sometimes prosecuted under laws designed to criminalise it, such as public nuisance laws and indecent-exposure laws. Such laws vary by locality worldwide, including within different parts of the United States.
There is somewhat of a double standard here as concerns the two different types of exhibitionism, since “indecent exposure” has a tendency in the Western world to be equated with a male exposing his genitalia to a female, when such acts are perceived by the female as threatening, while at the same time a female exposing her breasts (“flashing”) to male or female viewers is almost always seen as nonthreatening and in fact is often even requested to occur by those wanting to see bare breasts, such as the non-parade-related celebrations surrounding Mardi Gras and other similar festivals.
Exhibitionism is not automatically a compulsion, but some people do have a distinct psychological tendency to sexually expose themselves, whether it is to “flash” (the nonthreatening form) or to “indecently expose” (the threatening form). When it is a compulsion, it is a condition sometimes called apodysophilia.Learn More
A substance-related disorder is an umbrella term used to describe several different conditions (such as intoxication, harmful use/abuse, dependence, withdrawal, and psychoses or amnesia associated with the use of the substance) associated with several different substances (such as alcohol or opiods).
Substance-related disorders can be subcategorized into “substance use disorders” (SUD) and “substance-induced disorders” (SID).
Though DSM-IV makes a firm distinction between the two, SIDs often occur in the context of SUDs.
Disorders in this CategoryLearn More
Somatization disorder (also Briquet’s disorder or, in antiquity, hysteria) is a psychiatric diagnosis applied to patients who persistently complain of varied physical symptoms that have no identifiable physical origin. The disorder must begin before the patient turns 30 years of age and could last for several years, resulting to either medical seeking behavior or significant treatment. One common generaletiological explanation is that internal psychological conflicts are unconsciously expressed as physical signs. Patients with somatization disorder will typically visit many doctors in pursuit of effective treatment.
Examples of manifestations of Pychosomatic disorder are as such: a child itches in response to family issues, and experiencing repressed anger and/or fear. Thus, The child grows and wakes up itching in the same locations, though not aware of the repressed memory causing the suffering in later life, or the patient is engaged in seeking psychotherapy for somatization.
Somatization disorder is a somatoform disorder. The DSM-IV establishes the following five criteria for the diagnosis of this disorder:
- a history of somatic symptoms prior to the age of 30
- pain in at least four different sites on the body
- two gastrointestinal problems other than pain such as vomiting or diarrhea
- one sexual symptom such as lack of interest or erectile dysfunction
- one pseudoneurological symptom similar to those seen in Conversion disorder such as fainting or blindness.
Pain disorder is when a patient experiences chronic pain in one or more areas, and is thought to be caused by psychological stress. The pain is often so severe that it disables the patient from proper functioning. Duration may be as short as a few days or as long as many years. The disorder may begin at any age, and more women than men seem to experience it. This disorder often occurs after an accident or during an illness that has caused pain, which then takes on a ‘life’ of its own.Learn More
Conversion disorder is a condition in which patients present with neurological symptoms such as numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fitswithout a neurological cause. It is thought that these problems arise in response to difficulties in the patient’s life, and conversion is considered a psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition (DSM-IV). Formerly known as “hysteria”, the disorder has arguably been known for millennia, though it came to greatest prominence at the end of the 19th century, when the neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot and Sigmund Freud and psychiatrist Pierre Janet focused their studies on the subject. The term “conversion” has its origins in Freud’s doctrine that anxiety is “converted” into physical symptoms. Though previously thought to have vanished from the west in the 20th century, some research has suggested it is as common as ever.
DSM-IV defines conversion disorder as follows:
- One or more symptoms or deficits are present that affect voluntary motor or sensory function suggestive of a neurologic or other general medical condition.
- Psychological factors are judged, in the clinician’s belief, to be associated with the symptom or deficit because conflicts or other stressors precede the initiation or exacerbation of the symptom or deficit. A diagnosis where the stressor precedes the onset of symptoms by up to 15 years is not unusual.
- The symptom or deficit is not intentionally produced or feigned (as in factitious disorder or malingering).
- The symptom or deficit, after appropriate investigation, cannot be explained fully by a general medical condition, the direct effects of a substance, or as a culturally sanctioned behavior or experience.
- The symptom or deficit causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning or warrants medical evaluation.
- The symptom or deficit is not limited to pain or sexual dysfunction, does not occur exclusively during the course of somatization disorder, and is not better accounted for by anothermental disorder.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) (previously known as dysmorphophobia is sometimes referred to as body dysmorphia or dysmorphic syndrome) is a (psychological) somatoform disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features (body image).
The sufferer may complain of several specific features or a single feature, or a vague feature or general appearance, causing psychological distress that impairs occupational and/or social functioning, sometimes to the point of severe depression and anxiety, development of other anxiety disorders, social withdrawal or complete social isolation, and more. It is estimated that 1–2% of the world’s population meet all the diagnostic criteria for BDD (Psychological Medicine, vol. 36, p. 877).
The exact cause(s) of BDD differ(s) from person to person. However, most clinicians believe it could be a combination of biological,psychological, and environmental factors from their past or present. Abuse and neglect can also be contributing factors.
Onset of symptoms generally occurs in adolescence or early adulthood, where most personal criticism of one’s own appearance usually begins, although cases of BDD onset in children and older adults are not unknown. BDD is often misunderstood to affect mostly women, but research shows that it affects men and women equally.
The disorder is linked to significantly diminished quality of life and can be co-morbid with major depressive disorder and social phobia, also known as chronic social anxiety. With a completed-suicide rate more than double that of major depression (three to four times that of manic depression) and a suicidal ideation rate of around 80%, extreme cases of BDD linked with dissociation can be considered a risk factor for suicide; however, many cases of BDD are treated with medication and counseling.
A person with the disorder may be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Research has shown cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) to be effective in treating BDD.
BDD is a chronic illness, and symptoms are likely to persist, or worsen, if left untreated.Learn More
In psychology, a somatoform disorder is a mental disorder characterized by physical symptoms that suggest physical illness or injury – symptoms that cannot be explained fully by a general medical condition, direct effect of a substance, or attributable to another mental disorder (e.g. panic disorder). The symptoms that result from a somatoform disorder are due to mental factors. In people who have a somatoform disorder, medical test results are either normal or do not explain the person’s symptoms. Patients with this disorder often become worried about their health because the doctors are unable to find a cause for their health problems. Symptoms are sometimes similar to those of other illnesses and may last for several years.
Somatoform disorders are not the result of conscious malingering (fabricating or exaggerating symptoms for secondary motives) or factitious disorders (deliberately producing, feigning, or exaggerating symptoms) – sufferers perceive their plight as real. Additionally, a somatoform disorder should not be confused with the more specific diagnosis of a somatization disorder.
Disorders in this Category
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Conversion Disorder
- Hypochondriasis Disorder
- Pain Disorder
- Somatization Disorder
Vaginismus, sometimes anglicized vaginism is the German name for a condition which affects a woman’s ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration, including sexual intercourse, insertion of tampons, and the penetration involved in gynecological examinations. This is the result of a reflex of the pubococcygeus muscle, which is sometimes referred to as the “PC muscle”. The reflex causes the muscles in the vagina to tense suddenly, which makes any kind of vaginal penetration—including sexual intercourse—painful or impossible.
A woman suffering from vaginismus does not consciously control the spasm. The vaginismic reflex can be compared to the response of the eye shutting when an object comes towards it. The severity of vaginismus and the pain during penetration, including sexual penetration, varies from woman to woman.Learn More
Premature ejaculation (PE) is a condition in which a man ejaculates earlier than he or his partner would like him to. Premature ejaculation is also known as rapid ejaculation, rapid climax, premature climax, or early ejaculation. Masters and Johnson defines PE as the condition in which a man ejaculates before his sex partner achieves orgasm, in more than fifty percent of their sexual encounters. Other sex researchers have defined premature ejaculation as occurring if the man ejaculates within two minutes of penetration; however, a survey by Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s demonstrated that three quarters of men ejaculate within two minutes of penetration in over half of their sexual encounters.
Most men experience premature ejaculation at least once in their lives. Because there is great variability in both how long it takes men to ejaculate and how long both partners want sex to last, researchers have begun to form a quantitative definition of premature ejaculation. Current evidence supports an average intravaginal ejaculation latency time (IELT) of six and a half minutes in 18-30 year olds. If the disorder is defined as an IELT percentile below 2.5, then premature ejaculation could be suggested by an IELT of less than about 2 minutes. Nevertheless, it is well accepted that men with IELTs below 1.5 minutes could be “happy” with their performance and do not report a lack of control and therefore would not be defined as having PE. On the other hand, a man with 2 minutes IELT may have the perception of poor control over his ejaculation, distressed about his condition, has interpersonal difficulties and therefore be diagnosed with Premature Ejaculation.Learn More
Anorgasmia is a type of sexual dysfunction in which a person cannot achieve orgasm, even with adequate stimulation. In males the condition is often related to delayed ejaculation. Anorgasmia can often cause sexual frustration. Anorgasmia is far more common in females than in males and is especially rare in younger men.
The condition is sometimes classified as a psychiatric disorder. However, it can also be caused by medical problems such as diabetic neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, genital mutilation, complications from genital surgery, pelvic trauma (such as from a straddle injury caused by falling on the bars of a climbing frame, bicycle or gymnastics beam), hormonal imbalances, total hysterectomy, spinal cord injury, cauda equina syndrome, uterine embolisation, childbirth trauma (vaginal tearing through the use of forceps or suction or a large or unclosedepisiotomy), vulvodynia and cardiovascular disease
A common cause of situational anorgasmia, in both men and women, is the use of anti-depressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD) is a name given to a reported iatrogenic sexual dysfunction caused by the previous use of SSRI antidepressants. Though reporting of anorgasmia as a side effect of SSRIs is not precise, it is estimated that 15-50% of users of such medications are affected by this condition. The chemical amantadine has been shown to relieve SSRI-induced anorgasmia in some, but not all, people.Learn More
Erectile dysfunction (ED, “male impotence”) is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain an erection of thepenis during sexual performance.
A penile erection is the hydraulic effect of blood entering and being retained in sponge-like bodies within the penis. The process is often initiated as a result of sexual arousal, when signals are transmitted from the brain to nerves in the penis. Erectile dysfunction is indicated when an erection is difficult to produce. There are various circulatory causes, including alteration of the voltage-gated potassium channel, as in arsenic poisoning from drinking water. The most important organic causes are cardiovascular disease and diabetes, neurological problems (for example, trauma from prostatectomy surgery), hormonal insufficiencies (hypogonadism) and drug side effects.
Psychological impotence is where erection or penetration fails due to thoughts or feelings (psychological reasons) rather than physical impossibility; this is somewhat less frequent but often can be helped. Notably in psychological impotence, there is a strong response to placebo treatment. Erectile dysfunction, tied closely as it is about ideas of physical well being, can have severe psychological consequences.
Besides treating the underlying causes such as potassium deficiency or arsenic contamination of drinking water, the first line treatment of erectile dysfunction consists of a trial of PDE5 inhibitor drugs (the first of which was sildenafil or Viagra). In some cases, treatment can involve prostaglandin tablets in the urethra, injections into the penis, a penile prosthesis, a penis pump or vascular reconstructive surgery.Learn More
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), is considered as a sexual dysfunction and is characterized as a lack or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity for some period of time. For this to be regarded as a disorder, it must cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulties and not be better accounted for by another mental disorder, a drug (legal or illegal), or some other medical condition.
HSDD is listed under the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders of the DSM-IV. It was first included in the DSM-III under the name Inhibited Sexual Desire Disorder, but the name was changed in the DSM-III-R.
There are various subtypes. HSDD can be general (general lack of sexual desire) or situational (still has sexual desire, but lacks sexual desire for current partner), and it can be acquired (HSDD started after a period of normal sexual functioning) or life-long (the person has always had no/low sexual desire.)Learn More