Sex addiction is not real


Or so sayeth Dr. Chris Donaghue. Psychiatry’s sordid history with pathologizing ordinary sexual behaviour sees its continuation with the term “sex addiction,” cited often by sociopaths attempting to justify their actions:

Last week Harvey Weinstein announced he was checking himself into rehab for sex addiction. His behavior is clearly problematic, but so is the use of the term “sex addiction.” And as a sex therapist, I’ve been battling this misunderstood and misused term for over a decade.

Not only is calling someone a sex addict a convenient way to write off being a sexual predator and lacking empathy, but it’s also an attempt at trying to rehab a career. Sex addiction is not real.

In the media, sex addiction is a relatively new concept, and is used as a culturally sanctioned shaming mechanism for people whose sexuality makes others anxious and eager to eradicate. It allows us to avoid exploring why our partner cheated on us, why we no longer have sex, why we hate pornography, or why sex scares us. If our partner or friend has sex more frequently than we are comfortable with, or in ways that upset us, we can just call them a sex addict and make the problem about them.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Comments

  1. says

    I’m not an expert but I have no reason to believe that sex addiction couldn’t be any more real than a shopping or gambling addiction.

    However, yeah, the overwhelming majority of “sex addicts” aren’t.

  2. Raucous Indignation says

    Yeah, there is no recognized abnormal diagnosis for consensual sexual congress with another(s).

    Although a definition of “pervert” in common usage is anyone having more frequent and more interesting sex than oneself.

  3. says

    Sex addiction really is a crock of shit. Same with “hypersexuality”, the precise definition of which was never pinned down beyond “has more interest in sex, or has more actual sex than old white dudes think is proper.”

  4. says

    I once saw a quite interesting thing on TV where they were talking about all kinds of sexy stuff. Among the people was a woman who was worried that she was a “sex addict”, because her pattern was going out at the weekend and making sure she wasn’t leaving the club alone.
    The therapists important question was: Is this in any way interfering with the rest of your life? Do you miss appointments, neglect work, friends, family etc. because of this?
    When she declined the therapist said: See, that’s why it’s not an “addiction”. Be safe, have fun.

    I’m also so over the idea that we should just ignore bad behaviour because someone is an addict.

  5. says

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-@#6:
    The therapists important question was: Is this in any way interfering with the rest of your life?

    The definition of “addiction” was repurposed after I was a psych undergrad, mainly because it turned out to be very difficult to declare certain things to be disorders when they’re so squishy to define. When I was an undergrad, “addiction” mostly meant that there was a physical dependency, and “habituation” was that there was a behavioral feedback loop. Well, that’s problematic because being “habituated to sex” doesn’t sound very much like a bad thing – but there are other things that one can become behaviorally dependent on, which they wanted to be able to say were bad things. So, very clever: let’s just make “it’s bad” part of the definition – it interferes with your life, or you don’t want it. Typical psychological epistemology: golf is or is not an addiction depending on whether it interferes with your life. Trump is a golf addict?

  6. springa73 says

    Marcus @#7

    I don’t see the problem with defining something as a disorder or disease based on whether it has a negative effect on one’s life. Isn’t that how we define physical diseases, at least in part? If I am “infected” with a virus or bacteria that causes no damage or negative symptoms, it generally is not considered a disease, whereas it is called a disease if it starts producing negative symptoms that could adversely affect my life.

  7. Siobhan says

    @8 springa73

    I don’t see the problem with defining something as a disorder or disease based on whether it has a negative effect on one’s life.

    I don’t speak for Marcus, but I suspect the point where he starts to be wary is in who gets to define what constitutes a “negative effect.” I myself have no problem with the people possessing the condition or behaviour saying it affects them negatively, but oh boy the amount of medical abuse that can be traced to the haziness of definitions (see: conversion “therapy”) is astonishing.

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