Sexual addiction, a condition also known as hypersexuality, compulsive sexual behavior, hypersexual disorder or sexual compulsivity, is a state associated with an irresistible urge to engage in sexual activity especially sexual intercourse, against a persons conscious wishes. Sexual addiction coerces an individual into a sexual activity despite all the dangers or negative consequences involved (Carnes and Adams, 2013). The topic of sex has been a controversial discussion about which many people shy away from talking openly. Many psychologists, psychiatrists, sexologists, among other specialists have indulged in a heated debate over the years as to whether a compulsive urge to engage in sexual activities constitutes a disorder or addiction. These debates have hence sparked a need for not only classification but also diagnosis of this condition. Even as many studies have attempted to classify hypersexuality as an addiction, I do not think that people can have sexual addiction. In short, there is nothing as sexual addiction as will be found out from this article. As from 2017, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) owned by the American Psychiatric Association has ceased to consider sex addiction as a disorder.
Why Sexual Addiction is Not a Disorder
A considerable number of people struggle to control their personal thoughts behaviors and urges causing them great distress as well as consequences (Horwitz, 2002). This has resulted in hundreds of such individuals to seek help. It is more prudent to refer to this condition as hypersexuality rather than a disorder. The removal or exclusion of sex addiction from the list of disorders by the American Psychiatric Association proved that this condition should not be considered a problem. The same conclusion was made by American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). The criteria for labeling a condition as a disorder are a bit complex. Various reasons have to be looked at before concluding that some phenomena are disorders.
The process of pathologizing a phenomenon draws a significant attention from wide range of healthcare providers, the legal field, the scientific community, social policymakers and even the corporate sector. The insinuation of any disorder, therefore, requires an explicit consideration and explanation as the individuals suffering from such conditions have consequences and possible stigmas with which to live. The definition of the disorder has been controversially debated upon by the wider mental health field and the psychiatry. The creation of DSM-5 list of disorders has followed some considerations which ousted hypersexual disorder from the list. The two most relevant issues for categorizing disorders are as follows: first, there should be proof that the condition comes as a result of a biological dysfunction or the failure of an internal organ to optimally perform a natural function that it is meant to perform. Second, there ought to be sufficient epidemiological data showcasing the beginning, clinical development, and any other possible hypersexual behavior that deviates from what can be considered as a normal sexual activity. To address these highlighted issues, various methods such as anatomical and functional imaging, pathophysiology, molecular genetics, neuropsychological testing, and epidemiology have been used by scientific researchers to put the claim of hypersexuality to the test. After maximum evaluation of all the concepts, it has been found that hypersexual behavior has inadequate data available to strengthen a credible argument that satisfies the standards of classifying disorders. AASECT also failed to gather sufficient empirical evidence that could support the claim that sex addiction or addiction to porn is a disorder.
Behaviors that Define Sexual Addiction
Behaviors related to sexual addiction are very many, but the behaviors are difficult to define because individuals with sexual addiction are pleased with different sexual activities. Some of these behaviors include constant compulsive masturbation, multiple affairs, persistent use of pornographic materials, engaging in unsafe sex, having many sexual partners, practicing prostitution or visiting prostitutes. Other behaviors include the inability to control sexual urge or respect boundaries when it comes to participants. Studies, however, have found out that the behaviors originate from an obsession to carry them out and not from the acts themselves.
Difference between Sexual Addiction in Men and In Women
It has been understood that what motivates men to engage in sexual activities are different from those that drive women to have sex. In the same way, sexual addiction varies according to gender differences. Experts have revealed that men and women view relationships differently. Women come out as emotional while men tend to be physical. Women tend to culture intimacy first before developing autonomy. Men, however, are expected to be independent before they express their intimacy. In men, the excessive, uncontrollable urge to experience or have sex is known as satyriasis while in women, it is called nymphomania. According to research, males with satyriasis frequently visit prostitutes, enjoy anonymous sex, seek voyeuristic sex such as internet porn, objectify or exploit women whenever a sexual opportunity arises (Williams, 2006). Female sex addicts, on the other hand, are motivated by fantasy, role-playing behaviors, seduction, sadomasochism, pain, and pleasure (Kalichman and Cain, 2004).
Portrayal of Sexual Addiction by the Media
The portrayal of sex addiction by various media outlets vary. Some outlets welcome drama that comes with scandals on sex addiction while others claim it is a disease. The celebrities or highly influential personalities who have admitted their sexual addiction have majorly had media backlash. Those who have gone for rehab on sex addiction have been accused by the media that they are saving their skin. The media has a relatively negative portrayal of sex addicts because some media outlets think they are immoral. Other media outlets think sexual addiction is not real and have gone lengths to interview mental health professionals to find out whether sexual addiction is a disorder or not (Malamuth and Impett, 2001).
In conclusion, people should sharpen their sexual knowledge to broaden their understanding of the issues of sexual addiction. The criteria for categorizing disorders are well defined, and sex addiction apparently does not fall within the categories. Sexual addiction is real, but it is not a disorder. Males and females experience it differently. The media approaches the same topic with a lot of mixed perceptions.
Carnes, P., & Adams, K. M. (Eds.). (2013). Clinical management of sex addiction. Routledge.
Horwitz, A. V. (2002). Creating mental illness. University of Chicago Press.
Kalichman, S. C., & Cain, D. (2004). The relationship between indicators of sexual compulsivity and high risk sexual practices among men and women receiving services from a sexually transmitted infection clinic. Journal of Sex Research, 41(3), 235-241.
Malamuth, N., & Impett, E. A. (2001). Research on sex in the media. Handbook of children and the media, 269-287.
Williams, D. J. (2006). Different (Painful) strokes for different folks: a general overview of sexual sadomasochism (SM) and its diversity. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13(4), 333-346.
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