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Understanding of Sexual Orientation Disorders: Types, Diagnosis & Management


Remember the days when left-handedness was considered “sinister”? Or when women were medically diagnosed with “hysteria”? Similar to these, there was a time when being anything other than heterosexual was classified as a ‘Sexual Orientation Disorder.’ While modern society has mostly moved away from such stigmatizing labels, there’s much to learn from how far we’ve come. This article aims to provide an in-depth look at the historical views and treatments that were associated with what was once known as “sexual orientation disorder.”

Sexual Orientation Disorders

What is Sexual Orientation Disorder: A Historical Look

There was a time when having a sexual orientation other than heterosexuality was considered a disorder or illness. This notion has its roots deep in history and was supported by various psychological theories and therapists. It’s crucial to highlight that this perspective is outdated and has been discredited by modern psychology.

Types of Sexual Orientation Disorder: The Categories That Were

Originally, this “disorder” was categorized into various types based on the individual’s sexual preference. These could range from homosexuality, bisexuality, to asexuality.

Note: Today, these are recognized as natural variations in human sexuality and not as disorders.

Diagnosis of Sexual Orientation Disorder: The Old Procedures

Diagnosis often involved intense psychological evaluations, intrusive interviews, and sometimes even harmful “treatments” like conversion therapy.

Treatment of Sexual Orientation Disorder: An Unfortunate History

Treatments often involved attempts to “cure” individuals through aversion therapies, hormonal treatments, and even surgical procedures.

Prognosis of Sexual Orientation Disorder: Lifelong Stigma

Those diagnosed often lived with a lifelong stigma, grappling not only with society’s prejudices but also with internalized feelings of shame or inadequacy.

Sexual Orientation Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Subset

This was considered a subset of the disorder where an individual had obsessive thoughts about their sexual orientation, often brought on by societal pressures and personal anxieties.

Mental Disorders Related to Sexual Orientation: The Modern Understanding

Today, psychologists focus on treating the societal and mental health issues often faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, like anxiety and depression, rather than the orientation itself.

Sexual Orientation: Straight and Beyond

Being straight, or heterosexual, was considered the norm, and anything else was seen as a deviation or disorder. This perspective has, thankfully, evolved considerably.

Disorders of Sexual Preference: An Outdated Concept

Just like the main topic, this term is also considered outdated and stigmatizing.

Sexual Orientation Disorder Definition: How It Was Viewed

Historically, the “Sexual Orientation Disorder” definition encompassed a broad range of non-heterosexual orientations. According to this definition, an individual’s sexual attraction to the same sex or lack of sexual attraction altogether was considered a psychological or medical disorder.

Sexual Orientation Compulsive Disorder: A Now-Obsolete Notion

“Sexual Orientation Compulsive Disorder” was a term to describe a supposed fixation or compulsive behavior related to one’s sexual orientation. However, this term has since been discredited and is not supported by modern medical or psychological communities.

Dystonic Sexual Orientation Disorder: Another Outdated Category

“Dystonic Sexual Orientation Disorder” referred to a condition where a person’s sexual orientation didn’t align with societal expectations, causing them internal conflict or “dystonia.” This is an outdated term that has been abolished.

Sexual Orientation Anxiety Disorders: Misguided Diagnosis

This term was once used to describe anxiety disorders arising from a person’s sexual orientation. These supposed “disorders” were often rooted in societal norms and prejudices rather than any actual pathology on the part of the individual.

Ego-Dystonic Sexual Orientation Disorder: Discomfort with One’s Own Orientation

This term was coined for individuals who were uncomfortable with their sexual orientation, often because it didn’t align with their personal or societal beliefs. It was a subcategory under the broader and now-obsolete term “Sexual Orientation Disorder.”

Sexual Orientation Disturbance Homosexuality: A Former DSM Listing

This was an older term used specifically for homosexuality, suggesting that it was a disturbance or disorder. This classification was officially removed from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in 1973.

Borderline Personality Disorder Sexual Orientation Confusion: A Misleading Link

This concept falsely suggested a link between borderline personality disorder and confusion about one’s sexual orientation, reinforcing stigmas and misconceptions about both.

OCD Disorder Sexual Orientation: A Misunderstood Concept

While not an officially recognized disorder, there was a notion that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) could manifest as excessive worry or intrusive thoughts about one’s sexual orientation.

Sexual Orientation and Personality Disorders: Is There a Link?

Historically, some theories attempted to connect various personality disorders to sexual orientation, though this has been largely discredited. Modern science does not support such links.


The historical concept of “sexual orientation disorder” serves as a reminder of how far society and medical understanding have come. However, there is still much work to be done to eradicate the stigmas surrounding sexual orientation. While the terminology and treatment have evolved, the struggles faced by those in the LGBTQ+ community continue to exist, albeit in different forms.


Today, sexual orientation is understood as an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, both genders, neither gender, or another gender.

There is no such recognized disorder in modern psychology.

This term was used to describe individuals who were distressed by their sexual orientation. It is no longer recognized.

These were anxieties related to one's sexual orientation, often fueled by societal prejudices.

This was when an individual's sexual orientation conflicted with their idealized self-image. This term is now obsolete.

This was an older classification for homosexuality, suggesting that it was a disturbance or disorder.

This concept falsely linked borderline personality disorder with confusion about sexual orientation.

This is not a recognized disorder; however, individuals may experience obsessive thoughts related to societal pressures about sexual orientation.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest a connection between personality disorders and one's sexual orientation.

Today, sexual orientation is understood as a natural variation of human sexuality, not as a disorder or condition needing treatment.

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