When is a Sex Addiction Real?

Some people cheat, juggle many lovers, have multiple relations and watch porn. Could it be just your desire for different appetites or are you a sexual addict? A sex addiction is defined as the inability to cease sexual behaviors even when it damages your life, according to a recent news article.

The number of therapists for sexual addictions has risen worldwide in the past five years from 400 to over 1,000 according to the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.

IITAP Vice President Tami VerHelst says debate is flaring up over whether compulsive sexual behaviors are really a disorder in themselves or not. Perhaps they are just the result of bad decision making. Hypersexual disorder is being talked about for inclusion in the DSM-V addition to be published in 2013.

Rory Reid, a clinical psychologist and principal investigator says the term addiction is overused for anything that is pleasurable and he thinks the label lacks any empirical evidence from genetics, neuroimaging or studies that assess patterns of tolerance and withdrawal.

The DSM-IV currently has an entry titled "sexual disorder not otherwise specified" and is defined as distress about constant sexual relationships with a string of lovers that exist just to be used. Reid feels the description is limiting and vague.

An adult needs to meet the following four out of five criteria in order to be diagnosed with hypersexual disorder:

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Should Sexual Addiction Become a Legitimate Diagnosis?

By Robert Weiss, MSW, CSAT

Is Sex Addiction Real?

There will always be controversy – as there should be – when any form of inherently healthy human behavior such as eating, sleeping, or sex is clinically designated as pathological. And while the power to “label” must always be carefully wielded to avoid turning social, religious, or moral judgments into diagnoses (as was homosexuality in the DSM-I and DSM-II), equal care must be taken to not avoid researching and creating diagnostic criteria for healthy behaviors when they go awry due to underlying psychological deficits and trauma.

Pre-Internet sexual addiction research in the 1980s suggested that approximately 3 to 5 percent of the adult population struggled with some form of addictive sexual behavior. Those studied were a self-selected treatment group, mostly male, who complained of being “hooked” on magazine and video porn, multiple affairs, prostitution, old-fashioned phone sex, and similar behaviors.

Read Should Sexual Addiction Become A Legitimate Mental Health Diagnosis? on Psych Central.

Tips for Overcoming Porn Addiction

Is there really such a thing as a “porn addiction”? The answer to this question really depends on which expert you ask. Currently, experts are still quite divided on this issue. Some argue that one can truly become addicted to pornography. They point out that, like other addictions, it affects the brain’s neurochemistry, a tolerance can develop, and the behavior can significantly interfere with one’s life in many ways. Others argue that while one may compulsively view porn, it’s not a real addiction.

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Paraphilias and Sex Addiction

In many cases, individuals with a sex addiction satisfy their cravings in what most people would consider “normal” sex, such as sexual intercourse or oral sex with a consenting partner. However, there are a significant number of sex addicts who are able to become sexually aroused and gratified only by engaging in behavior that is generally considered unusual (at best), distasteful, or perverted. These behaviors are clinically referred to as “paraphilias”.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), paraphilias are “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving 1) nonhuman objects, 2) the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, or 3) children or other nonconsenting persons that occur over a period of at least six months.” The preoccupation is often so intense that the person is unable to experience any sexual arousal or satisfaction without the object or activity.

Paraphilias, by their very nature, are devoid of genuine intimacy or mature love. Granted, some would argue this issue – usually those engaging in the behavior. For example, pedophiles often argue that they genuinely love their victims and that their sexual interaction with children is a way of expressing that love. There are many couples in which one or both partners has a fetish, which is incorporated into their sexual activity. Sexual partners who enjoy a sadomasochistic relationship may also argue that it is based in love. But when the underlying issues are considered, the problem with their arguments usually becomes quite evident. [Read more…]

10 Tips to Prevent Relapse after Sexual Addiction Treatment

One of the greatest concerns for anyone who’s gone through sexual addiction treatment – or treatment for any addiction for that matter – is having a relapse at some point in the future. It can be very discouraging – as well as demoralizing – to do so much hard work only to fall right back into old patterns of behavior.

The good news is that there are several things you can do to help prevent relapsing once you’ve complete your sexual addiction treatment program. Following are 10 helpful tips to significantly reduce your vulnerability:

1 – Learn healthy, effective ways to manage the stress in your life. Granted, this is always easier said than done, but it’s a crucial aspect of relapse prevention. You see, stress is a common trigger for every addiction. The more stress you’re under, the more likely you’ll be to seek an escape from it. For you, engaging in unhealthy sexual behavior is going to be the most tempting means of escape.

Although stress is unavoidable in life, there are many things you can do to manage it and reduce its emotional and physical impact. These include relaxation techniques (e.g. progressive relaxation, guided imagery, etc.), as well as yoga, tai chi, regular exercise, and meditation to name a few. Find at least one or two that you enjoy and do it regularly.

2 – Avoid falling back into old lifestyle patterns. One of the riskiest things any recovering addict can do is to fall back into old habits and patterns. Once you’ve completed treatment you’ll need to avoid the places you once used to find new sex partners. If you often went to night clubs, bars, or strip clubs, it’s important that you avoid them. Otherwise, the temptation you face may be difficult to resist. The same holds true for online adult chat rooms, other adult websites, watching or reading pornography, and anything else associated with your addiction. You worked too hard in your sexual addiction treatment to put yourself smack in the path of temptation. [Read more…]

6 Signs Your Partner Is Addicted to Porn

It’s very difficult to have a healthy relationship with an addict. This is especially true if your partner has an addiction to porn. A porn addiction interferes with a person’s ability to have a normal, healthy relationship. If your partner is compulsively viewing porn, then his attention is on it – not on you – even when you’re trying to be intimate with him. To put it another way, he has a relationship with porn that is more important than his relationship with you. It’s not much different than having an affair. Sadly, he can’t have it both ways.

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