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Sexual and Emotional Self-Regulation: A Two Way Street

Wineke Smid


Sexual offending behavior is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. Most existing etiological models describe sexual offending behavior primarily as a variant of offending behavior. In this presentation, we will look at sexual offending behavior in the broader context of normal, and less normal, sexual behavior. For this purpose, we will use an Incentive Motivational Model (IMM; Smid & Wever, 2019) that describes sexual arousal as an emotion; an emotional reaction to a competent stimulus, comparable to other emotions associated with strong bodily reactions. We know from research and experience that various emotions can interact with each other. The interaction between sexual arousal and other emotions may serve as a means of emotional self-regulation and/or sexual self-regulation. For instance, sex can be used to counter strong negative emotional states such as frustration or anger (i.e. sexual coping). But also, more subtly, sexual arousal can be used to increase general arousal in ‘low’ emotional states such as depression or boredom. In an interactive presentation, we will try to untangle the web of sexual preoccupation, coping and deviance, that so often characterizes the lives of our patients. 


Wineke Smid is head of the research department at Forensic Care Specialists in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She divides her time between conducting and supervising empirical research projects, carrying out individual (risk) assessments of residential high-risk sex offenders and providing feedback of state of the art knowledge to various stakeholders in Dutch society. She conducted a national study on Sex Offender Risk Assessment in the Netherlands and is currently involved in research projects focusing on the assessment and treatment of sexual self-regulation factors (sexual deviance, sexual preoccupation, sexual coping) as well as fundamental sexological research on the Incentive Motivational Model. She provides (risk assessment) training to police officers, prosecutors, judges, treatment providers and probation officers. She is a fellow of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) and a member of ATSA’s research committee as well as a member of the editorial board of Sexual Abuse. She is the cofounder of NL-ATSA (www.nl-atsa.org).

(Full link to thesis: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3usqwge9ea9tuu6/Thesis%20Wineke%20Smid.pdf?dl=0 )