Sexual fantasies: review of major scientific studies

Keywords: sexual fantasies, functions of sexual fantasies, the content of sexual fantasies, sexual health


This publication aims at analyzing major classic and current research on sexual fantasies. A new perspective on this phenomenon that understands sexual fantasies as an integral part of a human’s sexual life, that includes various mental visions and impressions which are perceived by a person as sexual and evoke arousal, is introduced. Main perceptions regarding their development patterns, including a psychoanalytic framework, development of fantasies as a result of learning, a correlation between the frequency of sexual fantasies and sex hormones levels are presented.  It was established that sexual fantasies constitute a part of cognitive processes that take a direct part in a cycle of a sexual reaction formation. New functions of sexual fantasies were outlined; they include reinforcement of sexual arousal, stress reduction, escape from reality, forecasting, self-esteem boost and others. Key contextual aspects, such as fantasies of a romantic nature, sexual experimenting fantasies, fantasies with a concept of submission or dominance, sadomasochist fantasies, voyeurism, promiscuity, group sex themed fantasies or ideas of a permanent partner change, are revealed. The difference between a female and a male type of fantasizing is also described. Main problems associated with sexual fantasizing are revealed: the presence of obsessive fantasies, deviant fantasies, peculiarities of fantasizing among persons with traumatic experience, a specific correlation between nature of sexual fantasies and personal features. Fundamental psychotherapeutic methods of dealing with sexual fantasies are briefly examined: aversion psychotherapy, positive reinforcement of the desired experience, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, psychoanalytic interpretation of a content of fantasies, emotion extraction method.


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How to Cite
Palii, V. S. (2019). Sexual fantasies: review of major scientific studies. Psychological Counseling and Psychotherapy, (10), 69-76.