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What Are Sexual Delusions?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated Feb 01, 2024
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Sexual delusions are simply delusions with a strong relation to erotic feelings and activities. In some cases, these delusions may modify an individual’s perception of his or her own sexual identity. Other sorts of sexual delusions involve the belief in erotic relationships where none are present or perhaps even possible. Colloquially, people may consider inaccurate beliefs about erotic activity to be sexual delusions as well.

Clinically, a delusion is a demonstrably false belief that is held with absolute passion and conviction. Delusions may be absolutely impossible, simply improbable, or possible but incorrect. As a general rule, for a belief to qualify as a true delusion, it must be caused by a recognized medical condition, rather than simply poor reasoning or a lack of information. The causes of sexual delusions vary widely and include memory issues, schizophrenia, and unusual brain structures.

One area in which sexual delusions are especially apt to manifest is in the sphere of sexual self-perception. Patients with conditions such as schizophrenia often suffer from delusions about their sexual identity that are caused by their underlying medical conditions. Such patients may believe themselves to be of the opposite biological gender, or may re-imagine their sexual preferences and histories.

These delusions can also modify a person’s understanding of his or her sexual relationship with another person. One common form of this condition is referred to as erotomania. This condition typically involves the delusional belief that a person, often a famous or powerful person, is passionately in love with the victim of the delusion. Such beliefs are typically, like other delusional beliefs, highly resistant to rational argument, and individuals suffering from this condition are prone to inventing explanations to explain the apparent lack of interest shown by the targets of their delusions.

In other cases, sexual delusions may manifest in the form of intense and unfounded jealousy in personal relationships. An individual suffering from this sort of delusion might believe that his or her partner is being unfaithful whenever that partner is not under direct supervision or scrutiny. These feelings typically have no basis in actual fact but stem from the underlying mental problems of the delusional individual.

When used colloquially, the term "sexual delusion" has no single, precise meaning. This phrase may be used to indicate that an individual has an inflated sense of his or her prowess or desirability. Similarly, this phrase can also be used to refer to beliefs about sex and sexuality which are widely or deeply held but that are incorrect. These beliefs might include false information about the spread of disease or incorrect information on the functioning of sexual anatomy.

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Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Apr 18, 2014

Famous people seem to be easy targets of sexual delusions, but really anyone can become a target. People suffering from this type of delusion are not in touch with reality, so they don't realize that their love is not being reciprocated. They can use reasoning to justify everything and completely ignore information which is contrary to their beliefs.

Unfortunately, there is little that victims can do aside from seeking help from law enforcement because people with sexual delusions usually cross boundaries and can stalk and harass others.

By candyquilt — On Apr 18, 2014

@bluedolphin-- Yes, John Hinckley was suffering from erotomania. He was obsessed with Jodie Foster and her film Taxi Driver. Apparently, he decided to assassinate President Reagan because of the male lead character in the film, who tried to assassinate a Senator. John Hinckley thought that assassinating the President would impress Jodie Foster.

He had all of the signs and symptoms of sexual delusions. He followed Jodie Foster around, wrote letters to her and called her despite her never showing any interest. He did not regret the assassination attempt and called it "the greatest love offering." The court declared him insane.

By bluedolphin — On Apr 18, 2014

Is it true that John Hinckley wanted to assassinate Ronald Reagan as a result of sexual delusions or erotomania? They say it had to do with Hinckley's obsession with Jodie Foster.

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