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Why There's No Such Thing as Sexual Addiction -- And Why It Really Matters: Part 1

By Dr. Marty Klein Expert
 
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If convicted mass murderer Ted Bundy had said that watching Bill Cosby reruns motivated his awful crimes, he would have been dismissed as a deranged sociopath. Instead, Bundy has said his pornography addiction made him do it - which many people treated as the conclusion of a thoughtful social scientist. Why?

There's a phenomenon emerging in America today that affects everyone, particularly those in the helping professions. Not caring about it, or having no opinion about it, is no longer an option.

I am not interested in trashing 12-step programs. AA performs a great service every year in helping people handle their addiction to alcohol and other drugs. The question that has been put to us is, is the addiction model a good one for diagnosing sexual problems, and is the 12-step model a good one for treating sexual problems?

And if it is, is it as appropriate for treating rapists as it is for people who masturbate more than they think they should?

HOW THE SEXUAL ADDICTION MOVEMENT AFFECTS PROFESSIONALS

People are now self-diagnosing as "sex addicts."

They're also diagnosing their partners. Non-sexologist professionals such as ministers and doctors are diagnosing some of their clientele as sex addicts, too. As a result of these trends, many people who should be seeing therapists or sexologists are not. And many who don't need "treatment" are getting it.

The sexual addiction movement is aggressively training non-sexologists, such as marriage counselors, in the treatment of sexual problems.

Many professionals are now taking these programs instead of those offered by sexologists. Also, some professionals now feel incompetent to treat certain systemic problems without this sexual addiction "training." It is important to note that the content of this sexual addiction training is sexologically inadequate: there is little or no discussion of systems, physiology, diagnoses, cultural aspects, etc.

The concept of sexual addiction affects the sexual climate of the society in which we work - negatively.

This negativity is reflected in anti-sex education legislation, anti-pornography ordinances, homophobic industry regulations, etc.

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I don't think there is a such a thing as sex addiction. I think this was something invented to justify cheating when that person gets caught...

January 24, 2011 - 1:52am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Flat wrong. I'm a recovering sex addict and one of the things we talk about in our Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings on a regular basis is how we use the addiction to mask the underlying personality issues. Come to an open meeting sometime (where casual observers are welcome) and see for yourself. Stopping the destructive behavior of engaging in unhealthy sexual activity is only the first but necessary step of recovery.

June 25, 2009 - 11:24am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

If your behavior is truly unhealthy, as defined by a lack of psychological health whose causality can be traced to a sexual behavior or set of behaviors, then you probably fit a viable definition for sex addict. The author did not say that sexual addiction did not exist, the author was stating that sexual addiction is being mis-diagnosed and that there is an inadequate standard by which to measure sexual addiction further compounded by non-sexologist counseling providing unsupported and potentially harmful definitions of what sexual addiction really is. Although not everyone is gifted in understanding and hashing out minutia, one must learn how if you wish to speak on these topics.

July 20, 2009 - 3:23pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I must admit that the author was mis-leading with the words used in the title. A more appropriate title would have read: The issue of no standard definition of sexual addiction and its implications.

July 20, 2009 - 3:28pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

We have just completed creating a foundation that focuses on finding help for those that suffer from Pornography / Sexual Addiction. We have teamed up with a leading Neurologist who has written on wonderful book that presents the case on why Pornography is so addicting. Even more addicting then Alcohol or Drugs. You can learn more by going to http://salifeline.org.

June 23, 2009 - 1:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I am certainly no expert, but addictions share many 'causes' in common and just like I wouldn't rely on AA only to help treat alcoholism, a 12-step program to treat sexual addictions/issue is not enough. People suffering from any addiction need intensive therapy to try to get to and 'solve' the causes which lead sufferers to do whatever it is they do to cover the pain. Addictions, simply, are defensive outlets and the 'why' needs to be discovered and uncovered for recovery and a move to more healthful living. So, whether 'sex addiction' is the right term or not, the addictive behavior seen with sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. can and should be treated. The 12-step programs, in my humble opinion, is a support tool, not a possible cure. BTW, addicts are not big on admitting their addictions - denial is huge in addiction - so anyone 'self-diagnosing' is probably not really suffering from the deep emotional torment of addiction.

June 10, 2009 - 9:14am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

So, does this mean that we're simply an immoral society overly obsessed with sex, and that "sexual addiction" is merely depravity?

Regardless how some take moral offense (if that's the right way to say it) to the preponderance of sexually explicit messages, material, display, etc. bombarding us, I also disagree with the notion that sexual addiction isn't real. What, then, is addiction to porn, if not to the underlying sexual fantasy? Why, then, are men so hell bent on dominating women with the perceived power of their genitals?

June 8, 2009 - 4:16pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

To the anonymous poster from June: You feel as if men are hell bent on dominating women with the perceived power of their genitals. I'm not sure what "hell bent" means, but I could guess it means strongly motivated. However, for the sake of keeping the discussion on the knowable, I will remove it and re-phrase: You feel as if men want to dominate women with the perceived power of their genitals. Whose perceived power are you referring to? I cannot tell if you mean the male or the females perception, or "both". I will remove it and rephrase: You feel as if men want to dominate women with the power of their genitals. I assume you mean sexual pleasure giving power of their genitals, since they, "meaning the males genitals", have no other means to impart influence over women. It is possible you mean social power, but that would be outside the scope of this discussion. Outside of rape I see no power that one person could exercise over another with their genitals directly. Rape is also outside the scope of this discussion, since rape is known to not be about sex or sexual addiction, but direct power of another human being. Rapists almost always present with a psychopathology. They are usually sexual sadists. However, I digress, It appears that you are implying that sexual fantasy and pornography go hand in hand and that it is the driving desire to dominate women with the power of their genitals that is causal to both the fantasy and use of pornography to enjoy this fantasy. If this interpretation of what you have said is true, then it is also true that all men in general wish to dominate the opposite sex, sexually, without regard to the actual sexual attraction felt, personal sexual orientation, feelings of affection, or natural inherent desire to have sex. It further supposes that feelings of sexual dominance is something that is abnormal in men. Also, it ignores the fact that there are dominant women and women who are clinical sexual addicts and addicted to pornography. The degrees to which these thing occur in women are currently outside the reasoning process. The purpose of this note is to urge others to hold themselves to a much higher standard of thought when speaking about things they are passionate about.

July 20, 2009 - 3:14pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

As a society, I think we declare many unwanted or suboptimal behaviors into diseases or addictions and this is also true of sexual addiction. There was a quote from the t.v. show News Radio a few years back when one characters was describing himself as a sex addict, the character Dave responded with, "I'm sorry. I'm from Wisconsin. Does that mean you were getting a lot?"

But even if I'm willing to agree that we as a society probably over-diagnose sexual addiction, it seems to me that nearly all of the possible definitions from these type of addictions (sexual, alcohol, nicotine, etc) depend on normative distinctions. As you say "Which experts get to make judgments about acceptable sexual behavior? Exactly where do their criteria come from?" Isn't that also the case for alcohol? Or drugs? Why isn't that modifying those behaviors just about "controlling their impulses"?

June 8, 2009 - 4:04pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Could not disagree with you more. Sexual addiction is real. We have been helping people for 20 years overcome sexual addiction. I do agree with you that sex is healthy and essential. It is built into the very core of our lives. It is part of our survival but to say that it is not a real problem is making light of something that is destroying lives world wide.

InnerGold.com

June 8, 2009 - 1:30pm
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