Sex Addiction: Can You Be Addicted To Sex?
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Famous personalities claim to suffer from it, but how much of this ‘disease’ is actually true?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition) or the DSM-5, the friendlier term, published on the 18th of May, 2013 is the classification and diagnostic tool used by most psychiatric professionals in treatment of mental disorders. Basically, what that means is that DSM-5 is the ultimate reference book for all mental disorders that have been acknowledged by psychiatrists worldwide, and sex addiction isn’t in it.
Wikipedia, the holy grail of all that be, states:
“Sexual addiction, also known as sex addiction, is a state characterised by compulsive participation or engagement in sexual activity, particularly sexual intercourse, despite negative consequences.”
And this is precisely why sex addiction is missing from all cardinal material in psychology. Because an addiction also means repetitive behaviour, that is in excess of what is considered normal.
“There's nothing especially peculiar or odd about my erotic predilections. It's the scale of my sexual endeavours that causes the problems, not the nature of them.”
– Russell Brand, in an autobiographical article in the ‘The Guardian’.
Here are a few concerns about sex addiction that need to be addressed, before anything else:
- How much sex is too much sex? Who decides that?
- Secondly, some psychologists adhere to the belief that unless the behaviour involves the ingestion of a psychoactive substance (e.g., alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, heroin), it can’t really be considered an addiction.
- Another major concern is also that a lot of people may use ‘sex addiction’ as an excuse for infidelity, as seemed to be the case with Tiger Woods, wherein the condition that he ‘suffered from’ might not have come out, had he not been caught. Never thought about it that way, eh?
- But, there exists another school of thought – sociologists who argue that ‘sex addiction’ is very much real. They believe that any compulsive behaviour, that despite undesirable outcomes for the person and people in proximity, does not discourage the person in case, is a disease of the mind, sex addiction very much being one.
The so far documented effects of sex addiction are:
- According to Departmental Management of the USDA, about 38 per cent of men and 45 per cent of women with sex addiction have a venereal disease as a result of their behaviour.
- In one survey, nearly 70 per cent of women with sex addiction reported that they’d experienced at least 1 unwanted pregnancy as a result of their addiction.
Additionally, sex addiction likely has a negative impact on several other areas of one’s life. It can lead to:
- A decline in personal relationships, along with social and family engagement.
- Decreased concentration and productivity at work.
It is believed to lead to, or stem from, co-morbid psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, problems related to impulse control and emotion dysregulation, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
And most of the time, addressing co-occurring problems in the person’s life, like depression, social anxiety, or social isolation, has been seen to make recovery easier.
Quite simply according to the definition, you’re addicted to sex if:
- You’re preoccupied with sex, to the extent that it is affecting your life, work, relationships etc.
- You have sex without regard to potential consequences.
- You feel powerless, and cannot stop yourself from sabotaging your own life and that of others, for a few minutes of thrill.
Even if you see yourself as needing help after this, you should know that the most crucial step is, in fact, realisation and seeking help. And there shouldn’t be any apprehension, shame, or guilt. After all, it’s just a form of compulsive disorder as any other.