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Research backs visual therapy to reduce harmful sexual fantasies

Research backs visual therapy to reduce harmful sexual fantasies
Dr. Andrew Allen. Credit: University of the Sunshine Coast

A psychology therapy that uses visual imagery to desensitize people from traumatic memories can also reduce the impacts of harmful sexual fantasies, according to UniSC Ph.D. research.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Andrew Allen said the results of his University of the Sunshine Coast Ph.D. research could potentially inform both forensic criminology and therapeutic psychology.

"Fantasies represent a common aspect of human sexuality that can support sexual well-being but also contribute to psychopathology," said Dr. Allen.

"These results could be applied in forensic settings to reduce the risk of sexual violence stemming from perpetrators' harmful fantasies, as well as in to help people cope with distressing sexual memories."

His most recent study, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry and co-authored by Professor Mary Katsikitis of Flinders University, found that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) could reduce the vividness, physical sensations, pleasure and associated with .

The process involved using a computer to facilitate eye movements while participants practiced mental imagery.

Ph.D. co-supervisor Dr. Nadine McKillop, of UniSC's Sexual Violence Research and Prevention Unit, said the findings were particularly important following October's Sexual Violence Awareness Month in Queensland.

Dr. Allen said his studies were based on the premise that could stem from problematic memories (like PTSD) and that sexual fantasies could be derived from previous sexual experiences.

"This latest study supported the notion that eye movement therapy could impair the characteristics of the sexual fantasies and impact behavioral intention," he said.

"This is novel research producing very interesting results," said UniSC co-supervisor Senior Lecturer in Psychology Dr. Prudence Millear.

More information: Andrew Allen et al, The effects of bilateral stimulation using eye movements on sexual fantasies with follow-up, Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2022.101826

Citation: Research backs visual therapy to reduce harmful sexual fantasies (2023, November 13) retrieved 21 June 2024 from
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