Sexual Tipping Point A Framework to Achieve Sexual Balance
The Sexual Tipping Point model helps understanding & treating sexual disorders.
Posted Jul 10, 2018
The Sexual Tipping Point Variable Control model illustrates whether a man or woman is “turned on" or "turned off,” with the simultaneous capability of depicting all the complex multifaceted factors intrinsic to understanding sexual response. The Sexual Tipping Point (STP) depicts a person’s moment to moment sexual response (or lack of), as regulated by the interaction of their constitutional sexual capacity with biomedical, psychosocial and cultural determining factors. An individuals STP differs from one experience to another, based on the proportional impact of one factor dominating as others recede in importance. The STP model can illustrate both the intra and inter-individual variability characterizing sexual response and its disorders for both men and women. The below figure illustrates the STP model's fundamental elements and will familiarize you with the model's graphic representations.
Two pans labeled “Excitation” and “Inhibition” each hold two pairs of interconnected containers. The containers are labeled “M” (Mental) and “P” (Physical) but are bridged together by an “A” (And), recognizing that the line between mental and physical has become progressively more porous with the greater understanding of how thoughts become translated into biochemical/electrical components. The Mental And Physical containers hold all known exciting (+) and inhibiting (-) factors that influence a sex positive or sex negative response. Dimmer switches illustrate each of these billions of factors that are variably charged and with variable valence. Some additional factors may be neutral (=) and others are not yet discovered (?).
Previously, the STP was labeled as one of a number of “Dual Control” biopsychosocial models. Instead, it should be thought of as a “Variable Control” model, as it displays both variable polarity (different poles, plus vs. minus) and valence (degree, intensity) as shown below. The reasons for this change reflected advances in our biological, psychosocial, and technological knowledge about the human body. Nature is not black and white. Our human “turn-ons" and turn "offs” are best understood as continuous and not discrete categories. All these factors are more like variable micro-switches (dimmers) rather than dual control off/on switches. Simple off/on switches fail to fully capture the sexual dynamism and the spectrum of biological variability. Valence and polarity for any given factor can change over time, for a variety of different reasons. Excitement can increase or decrease at any time and the same is reciprocally true of inhibition. In other words, any person’s sexual factors (dimmers) may be “dialed up or dialed down” from their previous charge and weighting. The dimmer analogy allows for easy explanation and understanding.
The STP is the net sum of all Mental And Physical factors, displayed on a balance scale labeled with a Gaussian (normal) distribution curve that spans from excitation to inhibition ("Hot or Not"). So, each factor's dimmer switch setting contributes to the STP’s dynamic representation of an individual’s manifest sexual response at any moment in time. The STP is easily used to explain etiology and highlight treatment targets for change. Once mistaken beliefs and other anti-sexual thoughts are recognized for their contribution to sabotaging sexual success, hope can be instilled by using the STP model to explain how a sexual problem’s causes once identified, can then be fixed.
Bancroft, J., Graham, C. A., Janssen, E., & Sanders, S. A. (2009). The Dual Control Model: Current Status and Future Directions. J Sex Res, 46(2-3), 121–142.
Perelman, MA.“Sexual Tipping Point Model in Couple and Family Therapy,” In J.L. Lebow et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy, Springer International Publishing AG, 2017