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A sexual intimacy survey of former nuns and priests

, : A sexual intimacy survey of former nuns and priests. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 4(2): 83-90

Men and women who have lived in a celibate religious community experience a unique set of sexual, social, and psychological problems upon resuming a secular life style. In many instances the personality factors and circumstances which led both to a decision to enter and then to leave a celibate religious community are not easily appreciated by the nonreligious professional counselor and do not readily lend themselves to extrapolation from other population groups. This article reports the findings of a preliminary study to identify the sexual experiences and problems of persons who have left religious communities. Data is based on responses to a mailed, anonymous questionnaire by 126 former nuns and priests living in all parts of the country. Information is reported on the following areas: (1) sexual behavior and enjoyment prior to, while living in, and after leaving a religious community; (2) current sexual behavior, satisfaction and problems; (3) sexual counseling experience; and (4) general problems and concerns with integrating sexual intimacy into present life styles. Comparisons are made with similar data published in the literature and data obtained from persons attending Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) Workshops. The findings of this study suggest that persons who have left celibate religious communities have had limited sexual experience in adolescence and early adulthood compared to nonreligious persons. Further, there are special sexual problems and needs in readjusting to a secular life style. Implications for specific counseling are discussed.


PMID: 722819

DOI: 10.1080/00926237808403009

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