Is Sex Addiction Real?

I believe it was the media frenzy surrounding the Tiger Woods’ scandal that made sex addiction ‘real’ to people. Ironically the poster boy for sex addiction, Tiger Woods, in my opinion doesn’t have a sex addiction: massive ego and poor judgment certainly; a sex addiction, certainly not. But what does a small matter like completely misdiagnosing a celebrity have to do when it gets in the way of selling headlines?

As a result we've readily taken this media-fed-misinformation as god-spell and sex addiction has become a 'real' condition. And what a dangerous predicament it has created for the average couple’s sexual health.

Let’s be clear, there are two camps when it comes to sex addiction: those who believe it is a real affliction; and those who don’t. I’m obviously in the ‘don’t’ camp.

Sexual addiction is, in my opinion, an easy and convenient label for a very complicated problem. As it stands there is a lack of empirical evidence and scientific agreement on whether such a condition even exists.

Dr. Marty Klein a leading expert in this field of psychotherapy gives the best explanation about sex addiction in this video.

You see, the trick to defining sex addiction is to determine ‘normal’ sexual pursuits. An exercise in subjectivity as every person has their own comfort level and preference: some people want sex three times a day (or more); some have exotic tastes; others favor vanilla sex. Consequently, it’s extremely difficult to do any scientific study that can set guidelines to say what are acceptable ways to express sexuality.

That said, when you look at what sex addiction advocates have developed over the last 15 years, their standards are a moral judgment—rather than scientific conclusion—based around a heterosexual, monogamous, long term sex lifestyle. Any other forms of sexual expression outside these boundaries could be construed as a sex addiction. Apparently a lot of people agree with this belief system as we see the term popping up all over the media.

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In fact, Oprah and Dr. Phil have christened it as a real condition. Dr. Drew Pinsky had an incredibly popular television show helping B-list celebrities. And let's face it: sex addiction does make fantastic reality TV viewing.

Why don’t you see if YOU are a sex addict: take the Carne’s on-line sex addiction test. Chances are if you’ve done anything outside the norm, you are indeed a sex addict. But don’t worry if you are, you can self-cure. It’s usually involves twelve steps, a religious awakening and modifying your sexual behavior (not abstaining like a proper addiction would dictate).

Not surprisingly, all this media attention has filtered down to the average couple. Now looking at porn on your computer is the first step to becoming a sex addict—and every spouse needs to beware and worry about these destructive behaviors. Now there's a recipe for disaster: Treating your guy like he's a complete Neanderthal who is unable to control even the smallest of sexual urges.

When you self diagnosis, it’s difficult to impartially gauge if the behavior is obsessive and harmful to you and your partner; or, more likely, you’re uncomfortable with the behavior and don’t know how to manage the circumstance.

For the record: I do believe there are people who are obsessive compulsive about sex and cause severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and their work environment. These people do need to seek out help.

Yet, it’s been my experience this is the rare exception and not the norm.

So the next time you read that someone in the news has a sex addiction, please take it with a grain of salt. Most likely they don’t. It’s about the media feeding the insatiable public its next salacious headline.

About The Author

Trina ny head n shoulders
Trina Read
Sexologist, Dr. Trina Read is the founder of The Business Of Sex Speaker Agency. She is a leading relationship and sexual health expert and educator; and is a best selling author, media expert, was a CBC radio Relationship columnist, syndicated blogger, international award winning speaker, newspaper & magazine columnist, and spokeswoman. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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