"Sex Addiction is a very disputed topic amongst the Psychology and Psychiatry community with lots of inconclusive theory's and no real authoritative statement from anyone on the core causes"
What is sex addiction and what does it mean to be a sex addict?
Who hasn’t heard of sex addiction on TV? It’s a quite popular one.
A lot of male stars have drawn the public’s attention having this type of addiction, like the famous US Hollywood actors Charlie Sheen and David Duchovny.
If you aren’t affected by it you might not think it is as serious as it actually is. Saying you have a Sex Addiction might just seem as an excuse to have many different sexual partners, a lot of one night stands, to watch a lot of porn or to cheat on your wife or husband.
Dealing with any kind of addiction or compultion really is a serious issue and not just an excuse to have a lot of sex, which is not even the problem. What makes this an issue is not how much sex you are having, how often or with how many different people. What makes sex addiction an issue is the discomfort you feel and the problems it causes in your life.
Sex addiction is also known, by the more clinical name, as Hypersexual Behavior Disorder. Popularly it is also called Hypersexuality, Nymphomania, Erotomania, or Sexual Obsession.
The name of sex addiction first popped up towards the middle of the 1970s. It was used by people who were members of the support group for alcoholism – Alcoholics Anonymous. They realized that the program of 12-Steps that they were using to help people recover from alcoholism could also be used to help people who couldn’t stop a type of sexual behavior that was causing problems for them. People that felt just as powerless, out of control and desperate for help as the people who couldn’t stop drinking. Many times, the ones dealing with alcoholism and the ones dealing with a sexual addiction were the same.
How can you know you are a sex addict?
For example, you know you are an alcoholic when you drink too much for too many days a month. But if you are having too much sex for too many days a month, that doesn’t actually make you a sex addict. What most addictions have in common is that they start as a way to manage stressful emotions or events; this is also the case with sex addictions.
The Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Psychiatric Disoders (DSM) is like the holy book for psychiatrists in the US. What is very interesting is that you won’t be able to find sex addiction inside the DSM. The DSM had at one point something that suggested to a sexual addiction, in the third edition from 1980 and the fourth one from 1994, but it was removed because apparently there wasn’t enough research on the addiction. Since then they still haven’t put it back in, despite being proposed for the fifth and latest edition of the manual. However, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, which is most used in Europe and the rest of the world, does have it included in two different ways: „Excessive Sexual Drive” and „Excessive Masturbation”.
Since it can’t be found in the DSM-V, it creates chaos for the people who are having a lot of trouble with their sexual behavior and for the people who are usually trying to help them, the therapists. It isn’t an official diagnosis, so they can’t officially write it down, but both sides have to deal with it. Moreover, since it isn’t an official diagnosis it isn’t covered by any insurance. As much as they are concerned, it doesn’t exist so you can’t be treated for it.
In this case, try telling a sex addict that he hasn’t got a problem, that everything is fine and that he is just faking it. And try telling a therapist that their pacient doesn’t have a sex problem, while they are trying their best to help their pacient feel more better and lead a better life. How do you tell a therapist there isn’t such a thing as a sexual addiction when their pacient can’t stop masturbating at work, or can’t stop having paid sex despite being married? There is clearly a problem.
So exactly what is troubling a person who says that he has a sexual addiction? The problems are more than similar to the typical ones of any addiction. Firstly, sex addicts spend a lot of their time thinking about sexual fantasies and urges and plans to have sex. It takes over their day to day thoughts, making it hard to think about other more common daily things. Very important to remember from that start that the symptoms have to be going on for at least six months, anything under might just be a moment’s phase.
Secondly, thinking about sex, wanting to do it, planning and actually having sex is for the sex addict just a distraction from their bad mood. They start masturbating, having sex, or watching porn just to get rid of feelings of boredom, depression or anxiety but not because they need it, desire it or actually pleasure it. It’s just a means to escape, and that’s why it gets addicted. They get addicted to the lack of bad mood that they have while having sex or masturbating.
Thirdly, not only are they fantasizing about sex or having sex to get rid of their hard to handle emotions or their bad mood, they are also doing it to help themselves handle difficult life events. They take refuge in sex related behavior or thoughts from any sort of problem that pops up in their life and to which they feel incapable of solving. It’s a response to anything difficult to them.
The fourth symptoms is the lack of control over it. When a sex addict wants to stop fantasizing, or planning for sex or having sex they simply can’t. What’s more, not only they can’t stop having sex, or masturbating, or watching more and more porn every day, they can’t even start reducing it. Sex addicts need more and more of their addiction, just like any other addict, to feel ok.
The last symptom is that they choose to have sex even in dangerous situations or even in situations where the other person, or himself could be injured. Doesn’t matter if it is physical or emotional harm. For example, a husband that cheats on his wife with another woman. He doesn’t feel connected to his mistress and only uses her for sex, which can be very harmful emotionally both for his wife and the other woman in his life. He might want to end the affair, but can’t since it is another way for him to fuel his sexual addiction.
The most important thing about deciding if a person is suffering from a sexual addiction is that the addict has to be bothered by his thoughts or behaviors. It must bother him in his personal life, cause problems for his relationship, or maybe even his job. The sexual fantasies, urges and behaviors shouldn’t be caused by other mental health problems or drugs.
If the person feels alright with the amount of sex he has, or the amount of porn he watches or how much he fantasizes about sex and it doesn’t hurt himself or anybody else, then that person might not be a sexual addict. It might just be that he has a higher sexual drive than usual, which is completely normal and healthy.
Types of sexual addictions
Now there are quite different types of sexual behaviors the sex addict can take part it. He can either be addicted to watching pornography, to masturbating, to having sex, to having sex with more than one person or to one night stands. The addict might also fixate one a person which he can not get or get involved in what is called parahilias. Paraphilias is a type of sexual behavior which seen as out of the ordinary, like exhibitionism, voyeurism, sadism and masochism. Pedophilia is also sometimes an extreme case of sexual addiction. Paraphiliac behaviors are not always a cause of sexual addiction.
What are some of the causes that makes a person addicted to sex? Well it’s not only the overwhelming amount of sex videos and images online or strip clubs. The problem comes from within the person, more often than not, and it is usually an emotional problem. Though genetics might also have its part, as usual. There is information that most sexual addicts were either raised in families that didn’t meet their emotional needs in healthy ways or might actually have been sexually abused in the past.
This is why, for the sex addict the sexual act is not something intimate or pleasurable, but something that disconnects him from his problems and worries. As soon as he is done with one act, the fantasizing starts all over again until he acts again. Usually, as with any other addiction either if it’s a drug addiction or a behavioral addiction, like gambling, the addict is left with feelings of shame and guilt after he is done. Feelings which in turn doesn’t know how to cope with and ends up running in circle.
What can go wrong for the sex addict?
There are a lot of bad things that can happen in the life of the sex addict, depending on how he sexually acts. If he can’t stop masturbating at work, he could lose his job. If the addict has unprotected sex, there are many sexual transmitted diseases he can take. If he can’t stop having affairs, his marriage is in great danger. Then we have, the emotional effects. It is a situation that causes a lot of emotional confusion on top of the difficult emotions that probably started the addiction, so the sex addict might become depressed and even think about killing himself if he can’t get the help he needs. For the sex addict, as in the case of any addict, if things get worser and he doesn’t get help his life will spiral out of control.
The web is filled with sex forums where sexual addicts are trying to seek help. There are stories from working husbands that are cheating their wives with escorts, to people that can’t stop fantasizing about a co-worker, or to people who can’t stop masturbating despite being a sexually healthy relationship. The last two situations wouldn’t be so worrisome except that they feel worrisome for the person. Who hasn’t fantasized once about a co-worker they thought was hot? But if it is happening so often that it is making you depressed, it is a problem.
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There is a very big difference between what we commonly know as Nymphomaniacs and those with a real sexual addiction or compulsion that will not allow them to lead a normal or balanced life.
Addiction of any form is an addiction that needs to be taken seriously but sex addiction is often regarded as different from substance abuse addictions due to the nature of the problem.
Any sexual disorder/problem/issue is considered a taboo subject so people do have difficulty talking about it openly, when means a lot of cases go undiagnosed and even psychiatrists have been known to shy away from this subject.
How do i know if i really do have a sex addiction?
Sex Addiction is not just a high sex drive and it is not just wanting to have sex a lot.
Its is not wanting to have a lot of partners or a constant need for sex with your partner.
There are so many different factors to consider that we could write a million words and not actually cover everything so we just have to use best guess to explain in simple terms.
Eliminating daily desires that could be considered sexual addiction.
If you just feel horny a lot the chances are you are just horny.
If you want sex a lot, the chances are you just want sex.
if you want to have sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend at all times of the day and night this is quite normal.
So what are some characteristics of a real sexual disorder or a potential one?
If you feel an overwhelming desire to have sexual contact just to feel normal or loved or cared for it could be just you are lonely and need love. If you feel this need for sexual contact all the time and have a desperate desire to be with the same or different sexual partners just to feel better for a short time this could be a sexual disorder or develop into one.
One could describe sexual addiction or nymphomania in the same way you describe a gambling addiction or an alcohol addiction, where just doing it regularly can be fine but when it takes over your life and you feel you cant live without it, then it becomes an addiction. This is a very flawed thinking though because nobody can really live without it or should.
Diagnosing a Sex Addiction by Looking at Factors.
My own personal opinion is that a sexual addiction can be diagnosed by looking at some deeper issues and if there is a connection between some of them or all of them leading to a need to seek sexual fulfillment it could be a problem or addiction.
If a person wondering if they have a sex addiction asked themselves these questions and gives yes answers, they could have the start of a problem or a problem.
Now this one is also quite subjective because people like risky sex for the thrill.
The question could be better asked as `Do you put yourself at risk often with no or little thought or interest in the risks, but just a feeling of an overwhelming compulsion for any kind of sexual contact?`.
Some people just get a desire for sex no matter what and they don't think of the consequences. I wont say this is `normal` but i will say this is dangerous and not something that should be done, but this is not a Sex Addiction.
If this desire is often and possibly way too often to lead a regular life it could quite possibly be a sexual disorder.
Do you desire sexual contact because that is the only way you feel cared for?
Also very subjective because this could describe lots of people from broken homes or younger people.
If you like the feeling of being cared for and getting attention or love from sexual contact, this of course isn't anything unusual
Balance is everything and if you feel constantly lonely and need to constantly seek sex to try and just feel cared for all the time it could be a problem.
Hypersexuality is a form of sexual addiction and can be caused by the high or low in bipolar disorder. When the manic behavior or bipolar is in ne of its cycles there can be an intense craving for sex.
Kluver-Bucy Syndrome is frequently seen in those with Hypersexuality.
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