|Hello. My name is Brian and I am a sex addict.
It never occurred to me that I might be addicted to love. But then Marty Klein, a sex therapist in Palo Alto, Calif., and author of the book "Americaâs War on Sex," asked me to take a Web screening test created by Patrick Carnes, the best-known popularizer of the "sex addict" idea.
I answered all the questions as honestly as I could, but some seemed awfully vague â "Do you often find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts?" â or rather commonplace â "Have you subscribed to or regularly purchased or rented sexually explicit materials (magazines, videos, books or online pornography)?" But then Carnesâ definition of sex addiction itself can be vague: "Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one's work environment."
That may seem specific but it all depends on how one defines "compulsive" and the effects on others who may or may not be disturbed by anotherâs sexual proclivities.
Anyway, here is what I was told: "We have compared your answers with people who have been diagnosed with sex addiction. Your answers HAVE MET a score on [the] basis of six [of] the criteria that indicate sex addiction is present."
Donât feel bad, Klein told me. He often asks professional audiences to take the same test and a lot of them come up sex addicts, too, which may say something about therapists, but more, perhaps, about the test.
In fact, though the terms "sexual addiction" and "porn addiction" are often bandied about, and though the famous (including a certain former President and many of Hollywood's leading men) are often labeled sex addicts, neither term is a recognized diagnosis in the DSM, the bible of psychiatric medicine.
Experts just can't agree on whether sexual addiction is a real problem. This week, for instance, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality is meeting in Indianapolis to discuss, among other things, the topic of sexual addiction. Some argue that there is no such thing, and that terms like "sexual addiction" and "porn addiction" are unhelpful at best, dangerous at worst. The argument is not just about word choice.
âSexual addiction was invented by Patrick Carnes,â Klein argues. In his book, he labels porn and sex addiction âridiculous,â and says that the terms have been used as part of an overall strategy to demonize sexual expression by what he calls the âsexual disaster industry.â The goal, he believes, is to build an aura of fear around any activities, such as porn consumption, homosexual sex and premarital sex, that do not conform to the beliefs of those who oppose those activities.
Treatment for football addiction, too?
Daniel Linz, a psychologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara who studies communication, law and society with an emphasis on sexuality, largely agrees with Klein. "We tend to call things addictions that have unfavorable connotations or behaviors that some in society regard as being unacceptable. We do not talk about Sunday afternoon football addiction, money addiction, or a workaholic as people who need treatment like a cocaine addict. We tolerate a certain level of obsessiveness. But this is not the case with more deviant activities. We do not approve of constant viewing of sex. So we pathologize it."
Carnes, who has a Ph.D. in counselor education, does pathologize deviancy. He believes sexually addictive behaviors fall into 10 distinct types: fantasy sex, seductive role sex, voyeuristic sex, exhibitionistic sex, paying for sex, trading sex, intrusive sex, anonymous sex, pain exchange sex and exploitive sex.
Ken McGill, director of the Gentle Path program, a treatment center created by Carnes (who has been on vacation and whose office declined to make him available for an interview, saying that McGill can speak for him), argues that sexual addiction is not only real, but often creates the very same behaviors displayed by crack, heroin or meth addicts. These behaviors lead to habits destructive to jobs and family life or to the creation of shame and guilt. About 350 patients have come through the Hattiesburg, Miss., program, he says, and between 70 percent and 80 percent of them "are maintaining their sobriety."
The fact that sex addiction and porn addiction are not in the DSM is not terribly relevant, he argues, because "addiction is not in the DSM either."
Carnes argued the same thing in a 2003 article as part of a special report by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. "The DSMâs system is â¦ best viewed as a âwork in progressâ rather than the âbible' â¦ It condenses the criteria for addictive disorders â such as substance abuse and pathologic gambling â into three elements: Loss of control (compulsivity), continuation despite adverse consequences, and obsession or preoccupation." For many people, upwards of 6 percent of the U.S. population and growing, he insists, all three elements are present in sex addiction.
McGillâs own Ph.D. in psychology (he is not currently licensed as a psychologist, needing, he says, to complete one more test) comes from Azusa Pacific University, a self-described "evangelical community of disciples and scholars who embrace the historic Christian understanding of Scripture." (His thesis project was the creation of a Bible-based sex-addiction program to serve the homeless in Los Angeles.)
The university believes that "sexuality is to take place within the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman and that individuals remain celibate outside of the bond of marriage. Therefore, we seek to cultivate a community in which sexuality is embraced as God-given and good and where biblical standards of sexual behavior are upheld."
|I think gambling addicts are addicted to the possibility of winning- sure, they're pretty deep in debt now, but what if they win the next round? All their financial problems will be over! But they don't.|
|I think for anything to be addicting it needs to have serious adverse effects in a persons life. If a person can't make it through a work shift without having sex or masturbating then yeah, I think it's an addiction.
People that go out and have sex with random people, or yeah men or women who jump from relationship to relationship regardless of the effects that has on their children, imo is more of a fear of being alone situation, but I suppose it may be an addiction to relationships and possibly sex.
Just like an alchohoic or a person that uses stimulants can't go a certain amount of time without having a drink, doing a line, or popping a pill. Someone that gambles can't resist the urge to bet, even if it means they lose all their money, their house, etc.