Are You a Sex Addict?

25 Aug

Does watching lots of porn, masturbating often, hiring hookers, etc., mean that you are a sex addict? Where does a clinician draw the line between a patient’s use of sex as enjoyment and use of sex as a ‘drug?’ For example, a sexual addiction cannot be compared to, say, a heroine addiction. A recent study investigates the definition of ‘sex addiction,’ what it is and what it is not.

Stephen B. Levine of the Center for Marital and Sexual Health studied 30 individual cases in which men have been labeled ‘sexual addicts’ by their clinicians. Levine examined each individual’s reason for seeking help in the first place and looked more into their past behaviors, traumatic experiences, home/family situations, the status of their romantic relationships, etc. The men were then separated into 6 categories to describe their sexual behaviors, with only the last one coming the closest to a describing a ‘sexual addiction’:

Subdivision 1. No sexual excess beyond breaking the spouse’s restrictive rules
Subdivision 2. Discovery of husband’s longstanding sexual secrets
Subdivision 3. New discovery of the joys of commercial or chat room sex
Subdivision 4. The bizarre or paraphilic
Subdivision 5. A different concept of masculinity
Subdivision 6. Spiraling deteriorating dependence of commercial or illegal sex.

Levine concluded that 75% of the sample were not ‘sexual addicts,’ but rather fell into subdivisions 1-5. Only 25% of his sample was best described by subdivision 6, and “have been on a downward spiral manifested by a dramatic desperate pursuit of sexual arousal.” Most of the men just had a “strong narcissistic sense of entitlement to preferred outside pleasures” (especially subdivisions 2, 3, and 5). In summary, most of the men were mislabeled and misdiagnosed by their clinicians.

So next time you catch your partner engaging in a sexual activity you do not approve of, don’t jump to the conclusion that he/she is a sexual addict. According to Levine, the term ‘sexual addiction’ today is equivalent to the 19th Century terms “moral insanity, satyriasis, and nymphomania.” Just because a man breaks a “monogamy rule” does not mean he has a behavioral disorder; the label has a lot to do with moral judgment. It is healthy to think about sex and to engage in sexual activities, but if you think that it is too excessive or distructive, then you—or, better yet, a clinician—might want to consider whether the problem is due to a an actual “behavioral disorder, a symptom of an underlying problem, or a choice reflecting personal sensibilities.” One must be cautious in labeling somebody a ‘sex addict’ because that could just deter attention away from the real problem.

Should ‘Sexual Addiction’ be the official name of a behavioral disorder?

Article image via: www.

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One Response to “Are You a Sex Addict?”

  1. Candy Froggie 25. Aug, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    I like a lot the fact you mention the 19th Century terms “moral insanity, satyriasis, and nymphomania”, “monogamy rule” … I think all this unfortunately still belong to the 21st century.
    Finally one of the problem I see behind all that is less the sex addiction… but much more the still very judgemental, moralistic society in which we live. At least guys having several sexual relationship or being quite addicted to sex are now called “sex addicts”, which is not that negative. Soon I bet it will even be kinda cool to be referred as a “sex addict”. It already works for actors and rock stars. Now women enjoying sex more than usual… well, same as ever, these women are still called whores.

    Oh and your conclusion “One must be cautious in labeling somebody a ‘sex addict’ because that could just deter attention away from the real problem” is so very true. great article :)

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