The Impact of Differentiation of Self and Spirituality on Sexual Satisfaction by ProQuest


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									Journal of Psychology and Christianity                                      Copyright 2010 Christian Association for Psychological Studies
2010, Vol. 29, No. 1, 57-71                                                                                              ISSN 0733-4273

        The Impact of Differentiation of Self and
           Spirituality on Sexual Satisfaction
                                                     Jaime D. Goff
                                              Abilene Christian University
          This study examined the relationships between differentiation of self, spirituality, and sexual satisfaction.
       A sample of 164 adults from both clinical and nonclinical populations completed the Differentiation of Self
       Inventory (DSI; Skowron & Friedlander, 1998), the Miller Measure of Spirituality (MMS; Miller, 2004), and
       the Pinney Sexual Satisfaction Inventory (PSSI; Pinney, Gerrard, & Denney, 1987). Correlational analyses
       revealed a significant positive relationship between differentiation and sexual satisfaction but not between
       spirituality and sexual satisfaction. Regression analyses and path analysis were conducted, the results of
       both indicating that differentiation alone is a significant predictor of sexual satisfaction. Adding spirituality
       to the predictive model did little to increase its strength in explaining the variance on PSSI scores. Addi-
       tional analyses revealed that spirituality was more significant for women than men. Clinical implications
       and suggestions for future research are discussed.

   According to traditional sex therapy theories                  professionals are now being encouraged to con-
and models, sexual dysfunction and dissatisfac-                   sider their clients’ spiritual values and beliefs in
tion occur primarily as a result of anxiety and,                  the treatment of their mental, emotional, rela-
more specifically, performance anxiety (Kaplan,                   tional, and behavioral problems. Research has
1974, 1979; Masters & Johnson, 1966, 1970). The                   been proliferating on the impact of spirituality
purpose of the interventions used in these                        on sexuality and sexual satisfaction, showing that
approaches, such as sensate focus and bypass-                     the two are linked in important ways to one
ing, is to avoid feelings of anxiety in sexual                    another (Butler, 2003; Ferrer, 2006; Helminiak,
encounters. Schnarch’s (1991) quantum model                       1998; Horn, Piedmont, Fialkowski, Wicks, &
of sexual arousal and response offers an alterna-                 Hunt, 2005; MacKnee, 1997, 2002; McClintock,
tive to traditional approaches by theorizing that                 2001; Murray, Ciarrocchi, & Murray-Swank, 2007;
sexual response, rather than a stage-oriented                     Murray-Swank, Pargament, & Mahoney, 2005;
physiological process, consists of each individu-                 Wade, 2000).
al’s ability to respond to and process both phys-                    Schnarch (1991) has offered a theoretically rich
ical stimuli and psychological processes. Like                    description of the ways in which differentiation
Kaplan and Masters and Johnson, Schnarch                          of self and spirituality shape sexual and marital
emphasizes the role anxiety plays in sexuality.                   intimacy. No research has been conducted, how-
Rather than focusing on the elimination of anxi-                  ever, to examine directly the relationships
ety, however, Schnarch posits that in order to                    between differentiation of self, spirituality, and
reach their sexual potential, which may or may                    sexual satisfaction. As a result, the purpose of
not be accompanied by orgasm, individuals                         this exploratory study was to determine if differ-
must learn to modulate their anxiety by increas-                  entiation of self and spirituality are predictive of
ing their differentiation of self in relation to their            sexual satisfaction among community and clini-
partners (1991, 1997). Another aspect of                          cal samples.
Schnarch’s (1997) quantum model is the propo-
sition that when individuals reach their sexual                                   Review of the Literature
potential, their sexuality and spirituality will be
mutually enhanced.                                                  In order to frame this study and to assist in
   Clinical interest in spirituality has been grow-               hypothesizing outcomes, a review of the litera-
ing in recent years, and whereas before it was a                  ture was conducted in three areas: the impact of
topic to be avoided in therapy, mental health                     differentiation of self on relationships, correlates
                                                                  of sexual satisfaction, and previous research on
The author would like to thank Dr. Waymon Hinson                  spirituality and sexuality.
and Dr. Jackie Halstead for their helpful comments
and suggestions and Dr. Carley Dodd for statistical               Differentiation of Self
consultation. Correspondance concerning this article                 D
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