Desire in the winter’s pale : a hermeneutic interpretation of the experience of sexual desire in older age

Gledhill, Susan Ellen (2011) Desire in the winter’s pale : a hermeneutic interpretation of the experience of sexual desire in older age. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The experience of sexual desire in older age remains an aspect of the ageing experience about which little is known; much less understood. To address this gap in knowledge, the purpose of this hermeneutic interpretive study was to describe and understand how sexual desire is experienced in a sample of 11 purposively selected men and six women aged between 62 and 92 years. The study was based on audio-taped interviews with participants who were willing to discuss their experiences of sexual desire. The study was guided by the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur through the process of interview transcription to the interpretation of the experience of sexual desire in older age. Participants’ narratives were analysed for emergent themes using a twofold methodology inspired by Ricoeur. The narratives provided first-hand accounts of the experience of sexual desire in an ageing context. Findings revealed that participants identified as a sexual being regardless of age and availability of sexual partner. Findings also revealed that sexual selfhood was acknowledged through physiological response, that sexual desire could be influenced by socio-cultural factors and experienced within an ethical relational domain. Major themes explicated during the study included the experience of health and wellbeing, experience of sexual response, experience of sexual inadequacy, being socialised and re-entering the social scene.

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ID Code: 47987
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Welch, Anthony & Abbey, Jennifer
Keywords: ageing, hermeneutic, ricoeur, phenomenology, sexual desire
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 09 Jan 2012 05:32
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2012 05:32

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