Sex Addiction is a set of increasing, compulsive sexual behaviors that negatively affects, not only the person engaged in the behaviors, but everyone who is associated with that person as well. Typically, this involves friends, employers, family, employees, intimate partners, and just about any person inside of their social circle. Some argue that sex addiction is a disease much like other addictive illnesses including an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Sex addiction is an inability to control behavior (compulsion) and is not just due to an illness where one cannot resist the temptation or sexual stimulation. With this in mind, many psychologists experienced in sex addiction treatment are now leaning toward categorizing it as a neurological disorder.
Many believe that sex addiction is rapidly gaining notoriety as a significant social problem, a problem with features notoriously similar other serious addictions. A basic fact regarding sex addiction is that it transforms our inherent, instinctual sex drive into an uncontrollable behavior where sex is habitually exercised to prompt our brains to release endorphins for medicating repressed pain. If this is true, then sexual activity is recurrently sought in an attempt for us to meet unconscious needs that are really unrelated to the act of sex itself.
One theory of sex addiction has to do with trauma occurring during childhood. “Sex addiction is frequently caused by childhood trauma. The trauma survivor experience is marked by feelings of helplessness which alter how the brain develops. In response, people become emotionally deregulated and start looking for solutions, including sex, drugs and other highly arousing experiences that become compulsive".
According to recent CBS reports, sex addiction affects 16 million Americans. However, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has not included a classification of sexual addiction as a disorder in their most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5.
Defined as long term or compulsive sexual behavior, sex addiction has severe long-term, negative effects on the lives of people suffering from this disorder. Hyper sexuality, excessive masturbation, and sleeping with multiple partners, including strangers, are definite signs that an addiction to sex may be problematic. “If left untreated, compulsive sexual behavior can leave the individual with intense feelings of guilt. His/her self-confidence and feeling of self-worth may be low. Some patients may develop severe anxiety, and even depression” ().
Often rationalizing their behavior in some way, a sex addiction commonly distorts a person’s thinking and they may even blame others for their behavior. Individuals will do this rather than accept responsibility that they are the ones to blame for their actions. As with most addictions, denial plays a large role in continuing the behaviors. Most addicts will deny that their sexual activities are the problem thus rationalizing what they are doing is okay and that they are not really an addict.
The bottom line is that sex addiction (as well as any other destructive addiction) is an unhealthy coping mechanism that includes a set of escalating and compulsive sexual behaviors culminating in negative outcomes for those participating in these behaviors. These unhealthy coping mechanisms along with the inability to foresee consequences, sexual behaviors that are impulsive and compulsive, habitual lying and an inability to form intimate relationships, leads many to view sex addiction as not a disease at all, but more as a symptom of an undiagnosed personality disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, sex addiction is estimated to affect three to six percent of all adults in the United States.
My Addicted Mind