Is Sex Addiction Real or an Excuse?

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Is sex addiction real or is it just an excuse for people to go wild sexually with no concern for anything or anyone?

Perhaps you’ve heard about sex addiction or know someone who supposedly has it. Either way, it may be a good idea to learn a little bit about it before you make any quick judgments.

Sexual addiction is, in fact, recognized as a disease, a legitimate addiction, not unlike alcohol or drug addiction. While many people still do not understand this addiction very well, the more awareness that can be raised about it, the better. It is an illness that affects many people, many of whom suffer in silence. They are often embarrassed, ashamed and afraid to talk about it to others or seek out help.

So what exactly is sex addiction? “Sexual addiction is a persistent and escalating pattern or patterns of sexual behaviors acted out despite increasingly negative consequences to self or others,” according to the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health. (SASH)

The society lists the following as some of the out-of-control repetitive behaviors as the following:

  *Masturbation

  *Pornography

  *Multiple anonymous partners

  *Partner sexualization/objectification

  *Sexual aversion

  *Simultaneous or repeated sequential affairs

  *Cyber/phone sex

  *Unsafe sexual activity

  *Strip clubs

  *Adult bookstores

  *Prostitution

While some of these activities fall within the range of normal sexual behavior, the difference is the sex addict feels compelled to participate in them. It is different than someone who is engaging in an affair or two and saying they are a sex addict as an excuse. The true addict often has the desire to stop and cannot, due to the power of the addiction.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) released a draft of preliminary criteria that aimed to define sex addiction. The APA formally called it Hypersexual Disorder and according to the draft, it can be diagnosed in adults 18 years of age or older. The symptoms of Hypersexual Disorder or sex addiction are as follows:

    1. Excessive time is consumed by sexual fantasies and urges, and by planning for and engaging in sexual behavior.

    2. Repetitively engaging in these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior in response to dysphoric mood states (e.g., anxiety, depression, boredom, irritability).

    3. Repetitively engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior in response to stressful life events.Repetitive but unsuccessful efforts to control or significantly            

         reduce these sexual fantasies, urges and behavior.

    4. Repetitively engaging in sexual behavior while disregarding the risk for physical or emotional harm to self or others.

In order for the symptoms to be considered significant and addictive, they need to occur over a period of at least six months and the person must experience at least four of the five symptoms. While these could be considered just being out of control or having no inhibitions, it is clearly accepted now as an emerging medical condition.

More and more information is being discovered about sex addiction. Over time both medical professionals and the general public will have a clearer understanding and acceptance of sexual addiction. While some people may still question whether or not it is a real addiction, it is clear that the medical psychiatric professions are taking it very seriously.

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