Women's Sex-Related Dissociation: The Effects of Alcohol Intoxication, Instructions to Control Sexual Arousal, and History of Sexual Abuse
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Experiences that interfere with a woman's ability to be cognitively present during sexual activity such as alcohol use before sex and sex-related dissociation may interfere with her ability to have healthy, communicative, and satisfying sexual experiences. Women's sex-related dissociation, or dissociation during sexual behavior or in the presence of sexual stimuli, may be associated with childhood/adolescent sexual abuse and acute alcohol intoxication. It is not known, however, how efforts to control sexual arousal may impact sex-related dissociation. Therefore, the current study examined relationships among acute alcohol intoxication, instructions to control sexual arousal, and sexual abuse as predictors of sex-related dissociation in 70 women. Participants were randomized to a 2x2 experimental design of alcohol (no alcohol; .10% target peak Breath Alcohol Concentration) and instructions to control sexual arousal (none; "relax and maximize"), watched neutral and erotic films, and projected themselves into a heat-of-the-moment sexual scenario. A main effect of beverage condition showed that the alcohol condition (.10%) compared to the no alcohol condition was associated with greater sex-related dissociation. An interaction was found between sexual abuse and sexual arousal instructions such that sexual abuse and sex-related dissociation were positively associated in the no instruction condition but not significantly associated in the "relax and maximize" sexual arousal instruction condition. This study suggests that for at least some women with a history of childhood/adolescent sexual abuse (CASA), efforts to relax and maximize sexual arousal may decrease sex-related dissociation.
- Psychology