The role of imagery in sexual arousal disturbances in the male traumatically brain injured individual Academic Article uri icon


  • Over 50% of individuals who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) demonstrate a decrease in sexual arousal post-injury. This study investigated the basis of this loss and hypothesized that it occurred as a consequence of the effect of the injury on cognition: specifically, diminution of the ability to form and manipulate sexually arousing imagery. The study compared 14 male participants who identified themselves as having alteration in sexual functioning following traumatic brain injury with a further 14 non-brain injured participants, case matched to them for age and education. All TBI participants were assessed after 2 years following injury, and had had a loss of consciousness of 3 days or greater. The results indicated that the two groups differed in terms of their performance on the Bett's QMI Scale, the Gordon Test of Visual Imagery Control, the Vividness of Sexual Imagery Scale of the Imaginal Processes Inventory, the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Beck Depression Inventory. After correction for the level of depression by analysis of covariance, the TBI participants still featured lower levels of performance on the Sexual Imagery sub-scale of the Imaginary Processes Inventory. The results indicate that sexual arousal disturbances may exist above and beyond the disturbances to affect associated with the psychosocial effects of the TBI.

publication date

  • January 1999