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Department of Psychology Special Seminar

Thursday, May 29, 2014,

  • Location: Wilson Hall • 111 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 122

Dr. Charmaine Borg

Sex and Disgust: Two Bad Bed Fellows   Sexual dysfunction in women may take the form of pain with intercourse (dyspareunia) or an aversion to having anything in the vagina (vaginismus). My research highlights the potential role of morality or transgressing, and disgust in particular, in these penetration-related disorders. Women with these disorders are characterized by catastrophic pain cognitions, relatively strict moral beliefs, and stronger automatic penetration-disgust associations. Extensions of this work using fMRI suggest that there is significant overlap in the brain regions that respond to penetration cues and disgust cues in women. This is perhaps not surprising given that sexual stimuli such as saliva and semen are among the strongest disgust elicitors. Despite the disgusting nature of sexual intercourse, people still express a sexual appetite. My research suggests that this may be because sexual arousal temporarily reduces the disgust-eliciting properties of otherwise disgusting sexual cues. This talk is aimed at providing (some) evidence that disgust is indeed involved in penetration-related dysfunctions among women, and points to the importance of sexual arousal as a moderator of sexual disgust. Future directions, including ongoing study designs aimed at delineating the nature of sexual preferences, sexual starvation and sensitivity to sexual arousal will be discussed.