Does sex addiction exist?

This section is for discussing Sexual Addiction in an Adult way.

Does sex addiction exist?

Postby Andy284 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:51 pm

Lord Laidlaw of Rothiemay has admitted to receiving treatment for "sex addiction" at a private clinic, likening it to alcohol dependency. But is it really?
It's a term that first came to widespread attention when actor Michael Douglas was admitted to rehab in 1990 and it was reported - inaccurately, he later claimed - to be a sex addict.
More recently, comedian Russell Brand admitted to spending a week at a centre for sexual addiction in Philadelphia.
And earlier this year, relationship counselling service Relate said there had been a huge increase in the number of cases concerning sexual compulsive behaviour.

Sex therapists would argue it is a real addiction with serious consequences
But others in psychiatry and psychotherapy argue it is not comparable to substance addiction and should not be classed as such
Now Lord Laidlaw, 65, says he has been fighting the "disease" for the whole of his adult life.
So are so-called sex addicts suffering from an illness or just making excuses for being unfaithful?
It's a very serious addiction, says Paula Hall, who runs a group therapy course for "sex addicts" in Warwickshire, and it's believed about one in 20 people suffer from it.
Although not a chemical addiction like alcohol or heroin, it's a "process addiction" like gambling, she says, with a biochemical element linked to the release of dopamine in the brain.
"It's a compulsive need to seek out and follow a certain type of sexual behaviour. That behaviour varies but it's basically an anaesthetising behaviour, something you are doing in order to avoid dealing with something else.
"It's a coping mechanism and it's totally and entirely out of control. You are continuing to pursue it in spite of the consequences, like losing your job, your status, your wife and your health."

It's not really about sex. It's driven by shame
Paula Hall
Relationships counsellor
Addicts are usually men and they are of any age, she says, and from any background. The behaviour ranges from viewing online porn for a few hours a day, which is usually a starting point and then escalates, to visiting prostitutes at every opportunity.
"It's a way of escaping from low self-esteem, feelings of anger and insecurity. It's not really about sex. It's driven by shame.
"You feel about yourself and one way to stop feeling bad about yourself is to do something nice, but afterwards you feel even worse about yourself."
The difference between having an addiction and merely having a high sex drive is the level of compulsion, "disappearing into their own bubble and running away from the world", she says, and there's evidence that's it in the genes.


A regular part of the BBC News Magazine, Who, What, Why? aims to answer some of the questions behind the headlines
But Phillip Hodson, fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, says the term "addiction" is not appropriate for this behaviour, which would be better described as obsessive, compulsive or even greedy.
Some very successful men have a habit of thinking they can get away with anything, especially behaviour they view as exciting, he says.
"Sexual addiction is a relatively recent American, jargonized category of personality behaviour.
"It uses a medical model - 'I'm an addict, I've got an illness and need a 12-step programme.' But I don't buy into it."

Heroin withdrawal induces physical pain
There's a difference in responding to your own adrenaline rush - which some people may receive from a passion for golf or Celine Dion - and craving a substance your body is addicted to.
If everything was resting on it, then a sex obsessive would not walk over the abyss but a real addict would, says Mr Hodson. Substance addiction stops the body's natural production of opiates, thus inducing "cold turkey" which has a physical pain akin to old age.
What some may describe as sex addiction does not stand up when applied to the proper definition of the word, says Glenn Wilson of the Institution of Psychiatry.
"The original idea of addiction was that you had a chemical hijacking of the circuits of the brain built to give you pleasure as reward for doing things of a survival value, such as eating or having sex."
After continued use, cocaine or cigarettes are capable of acquiring survival value for the individual concerned, he says.
"But to turn round and argue that one is addicted to chocolate or sex, which are activities you would expect to be rewarded in survival terms, strikes me as hijacking the concept of addiction.
"It's a way that people signal to the world that they think they have a problem and need to break it."
But they are no different from anyone else, he says, because we all have sexual drives which can get us into trouble without inhibition or control.
BBC News - 2008
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Does sex addiction exist

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