There was a time I remember thinking I liked sex too much. I began to wonder if I was a sex addict. Or, if being addicted to sex was even possible.
Given my preference for long-term monogamous relationships, it took a few break-ups to realize I just needed to be with someone who shared a similar libido to me. In the process I learned that there are a lot of falsehoods that pertain to the myth of sex addiction, falsehoods I was more than happy to share with my clients as they journeyed their way to self-empowered lives.
Sex addiction is a popular and lucrative business.
There is a lot of money to be made by many professionals who specialize in treating sex addiction. Their belief has overshadowed scientific and diagnostic facts. Many professionals utilize the guilt and shame of their supposedly sex addicted clients who may just have varying sexual libidos from their partners and friends, underlying compulsions (which are not addictions), anxiety disorders or were raised in a sexually restrictive environment.
Claiming someone is a sex addict can also lessen accountability for the accused and accuser. It makes it much easier to forgive a person whose sexual behavior was hurtful because as an addict it was “beyond their control.”
When seriously looking into sexual addiction there is usually an underlying issue like anxiety, a mood disorder or obsessive compulsive behavior in which lots of sex and sexual release can be a relief. But, these are not an addiction. The treatments for compulsion, mood disorders and anxiety are not the same as the treatments for addiction if you want to see successful results.
When it comes to the myth of sex addiction, we must realize people have different likes and dislikes, definitions of what and how sex and sexuality are expressed which doesn’t make someone a sex addict. As long as everyone is consensual and having a good time, who get's to decide when enjoying too much sexual play is a problem?
Dr. Chris Donaghue, clinical psychologist, author and sex therapist challenges the very system he was trained under in his new book, “Sex Outside the Lines: Authentic Sexuality in a Seuxally Dysfunctional Culture”. In his book, Dr. Donaghue asks these very important questions like, "Who is creating the standard for what it means to have a “healthy” or “normal” sex drive?"
Despite its pop culture popularity, it’s very important to be aware there is still no medical diagnosis labeled “sex addict” in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as of 2017.
Sex addiction originated out of the AIDS crisis. It was also used by the religious circuit to shame people who had affairs or high libidos that didn't line up with church values. The term sex addict gained even more popularity after the 1998 Clinton scandal.
It seems our sex addiction labels are hypocritical where in one sense we shame people like politician Anthony Weiner or actor David Duchovny for their sexual misconduct but our newly elected President Trump, who has blatantly cheated on all his wives and bragged about all the women he's nailed is just fine?
Studies show that we are a nation of cherry picking sexual hypocrites — our behaviors are at odds with our beliefs. For all our progressive sexual ways, American society can’t wait to cherry pick what and who is sexually offensive to them and jump on someone who seems a little too progressive, free, different or outside of what is considered sexually acceptable.
If we go onto a supposedly reputable site like WEBMD or psychcentral.com there is a list of symptoms that could make a person a sex addict.
Treatment programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous questionnaires range from wanting to know if we keep secrets about our sexual or romantic activities from those important to us or are driven to have sex with people or in places we wouldn’t normally choose. (Yes, that’s called privacy, excitement and novelty.)
So, before we start labeling people sex addicts or wondering if we are a sex addict, consider these things…
Author: Heather Dawn
Heather Dawn has a column on Elephantjournal.com where a version of this blog was originally published.