A phenomenological enquiry into how Chemsex impacts on gay men’s experience of intimacy

Lynch, Gary (2022) A phenomenological enquiry into how Chemsex impacts on gay men’s experience of intimacy. DPsych thesis, Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC). [Thesis]

PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Download (1MB) | Preview


This study explores the impact chemsex may have on the intimate worlds of its users. Eight participants were interviewed using semi-structured interviews focusing on their experience of chemsex and its impact on their experience of intimacy. The material was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). This research method facilitates a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry into the unique individual experience, as well as commonalities between participants. Three superordinate themes were identified. The first theme; The Quest for Intimate Connection, highlighted the participants’ need for intimate connection and a sense of belonging within a community. It also illustrated participants’ awareness of the phenomenon of ‘false intimacy’ within the chemsex context. The second theme; Living with Shame, related to the complex feelings of shame experienced by participants, particularly homophobic shame. The third and final superordinate theme was Chemsex Darkness. This theme addressed the negative and damaging ways chemsex impacted the lives of participants, with reduced sexual confidence and functioning being of particular note. The clinical significance of this study demonstrates the complex interaction between chemsex activities and participants’ lives and intimate relations. The recommendation from these findings shows that increased research and therapeutic support for chemsex users is necessary, particularly in relation to the reporting of ‘false intimacy’ and how this may interact with chemsex users making poor health and relational decisions. The study highlights the need for increased support and further research on decreased sexual confidence in chemsex users, particularly prior users who have exited the chemsex community and the implications of ‘sober sex’ in the future. The results imply that greater resources and focus is required to address feelings of shame and inferiority amongst gay men and more particularly, understanding how existential shame may lead to engagement with the chemsex world.

Item Type: Thesis (DPsych)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Keywords (uncontrolled): Chemsex, Intimacy, relationality, Addiction, Isolation, Sexual minority, Connection, Internal shame, Sober sex
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Item ID: 36833
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2022 08:34
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2022 09:16
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/36833

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.