Can Therapy Break The Taboo Of Hypersexuality?
Open|December 28, 2015

Can therapy break the taboo of hypersexuality?

Sonali Acharjee

“When I was a teen, I used to force myself to drink three litres of water every day and then not go to the toilet because the urge to urinate made me orgasm faster. But I never thought that there was anything wrong with me. All my friends masturbated all the time as well. I thought I was just like them,” says Riya, a 26-year-old fashion designer living in Delhi. She pauses to thumb through a stack of tarty red crotchless panties, resting her back against a dusty mannequin that displays a bra made of crystal beads and golden thread. We are at Tina Bazaar, an underground market in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar that sells a vast variety of lingerie. With nothing priced above Rs 400, Riya happily fills her shopping bag with two animal print corsets, six lace bras and three thongs. “I grew up in Ranchi but attended college in Delhi. It’s tough to make ends meet in the city. I earn only Rs 22,000 as a design trainee. But I enjoy splurging a little now and then,” she admits with a sly grin and then quickly adds the flimsy crystal bra to her pile of purchases. As she’s paying the bill, she informs me in a low voice that she’s hoping the bra will help her seduce her boss later on in the evening. A 49-year-old man, her boss was the 84th man she had slept with and the first to help her realise that she had become a sex addict.

“I was engaged to the man of my dreams. No, I’m not joking,” she adds hastily before I can roll my eyes, then continues, “He was everything that I had ever searched for in a partner. And God knows, after 82 failed attempts, I had searched enough. So you would imagine that I would have been thrilled to have finally found the right guy. And I was—for a whole year. Then I met the head designer of my firm and all I could think about was making love to him. I forgot I was already with the man of my dreams, that I was engaged, that the wedding was to happen in a month’s time... I could only think of my boss and how to get him to touch me. It used to be torture to just sit across the table from him—his smell, his gaze, his voice, everything aroused me. I’d change my underwear three or four times a day because I got so excited every time he came near me.”

We have left Tina Bazaar by now and are walking towards a nearby pharmacy to pick up a strip of birth control pills. “It’s the only contraceptive that I can live with. Condoms are useless. I like to feel the skin and not rubber inside me. It is just a thousand times better. If, as several people inform me, I am already living in sin, I might as well go the whole way,” shrugs Riya and rushes forward to place her order at the counter.

It was only after she cheated on her fiance with her boss that Riya realised she needed help. “Earlier I could excuse sleeping around because I would tell myself that I was only trying to find the right man. But what about after you’ve found the love of your life? I couldn’t understand why I would ruin my happiness for sex. I couldn’t understand why I was feverish and excited in the company of a man twice my age,” she says. That was when she confessed the story of all her previous sexual encounters to her boss. “He was horrified and told me that it wasn’t normal to have had so many partners in just six years. The next day, he fixed up a counselling appointment for me at AIIMS hospital in Delhi. I went along because I knew that he was right. I wasn’t sexualised, I was hypersexualised,” recalls Riya.

Now, a year after she began therapy, Riya says she is finally starting to realise why she craves sex more than anything else. “At first I thought it was a hormone problem,” she says, “But during counselling sessions, I realised that my hypersexuality stemmed from depression. It was difficult to open up completely to my psychiatrist and bring back horrible memories.” But she did open up eventually. She told her psychiatrist of the first time she went out on a date in Delhi and how the boy made out with her in his car and then didn’t call back the next day. She talked about the first time she had drunken sex and woke up all alone, half-naked on a pavement outside a city nightclub. She remembered how she gave herself up to each of these men, hoping against hope that one of them would fall in love with her, just like in the Mills & Boon novels she had grown up reading. “None of them did, though. And by the time someone did, it was too late. I had become so used to sex that I could no longer understand love. I would only get excited at the prospect of the first kiss, the first touch… being wanted, being desired. It made me feel sexy and happy. I didn’t know what to do after the first few sexual encounters, I was so used to men leaving me after having had sex,” she recalls sadly.

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