Trigger Warning: Sex Addiction, Alcohol, Eating Disorders
According to the new edition of the psychological diagnostic manual (the book that tells your shrink what kind of crazy you are, seriously if you look hard enough you’ll find one that fits you) sex addiction is a real thing that happens to real people, not just celebrities. Now, to be fair, this is the same manual that considered homosexuality a psychological disorder but a few scant decades ago but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this time around because we’re feeling particularly arbitrary today. The DSM V is not actually calling it “sex addiction” however, they’ve dubbed it instead, hypersexual disorder. It’s pretty controversial wether or not the term addiction should be used to described non-substance related compulsions so we can understand their hesitance to use the term. That being said sex addiction is a term that people are used to and can understand so we’re going to use the two terms interchangeably.
Hypersexual disorder is described as, excessive sexual urges, fantasies and behaviours that get in the way of you living a happy life. Like any compulsion or addiction, it’s only a problem if it’s a problem. If you are masturbating 8 hours a day but you’re happy, have good relationships, hold down a steady job and are paying the rent on time then you don’t have hypersexual disorder. You may be hypersexual but it’s not a disorder. It’s important not to pathologize sex and sexuality otherwise we as a culture may start looking for disorder where there is none. Fetishes, kinks, all around horniness, are not problems…unless they are.
This is the point that I want to make and this goes for anything really. It’s not a problem if it’s not a problem, and you will know real quick if it’s a problem.
The thing about sex addiction that’s different than many other addictions is that abstinence isn’t encouraged. If you’re an alcoholic the best thing you can do is to stop drinking completely. I don’t think anyone wants to tell anyone else to stop having sex and never have it again. In this respect, sex addiction is like disordered eating in which a person overeats or binges. You can’t abstain from eating, it’s unnatural. In the same way, it would be unnatural to never have sex (or masturbate or whatever behaviour is associated with the hypersexual disorder) ever again and it probably wouldn’t help anyways.
So how is sex addiction treated? There are lots of different treatment methods out there for hypersexual disorder but none of them have been taken on whole heartedly by clinicians. As with almost any addiction, there are 12 step groups available in almost any major city. There is also psychotherapy, couples therapy, group therapy and medications that have proven successful for some but not for everyone. If you think you might have a problem read the DSM V criteria, check out this awesome website community all about hypersexual disorder and go make an appointment with a councillor who specializes in sexuality issues if that’s something that’s available to you. Addictions and psychological disorders are not the end of the world but if your life has become unmanageable it is important to get help. If you could fix the problem by yourself you would have already.
Sex is important but it’s not the most important thing in life. Happiness and relationships are more important than sex. If the sex you are having is getting in the way of your happiness and your relationships then perhaps it’s time to reexamine your relationship with sex.