The recent surge of news about celebrities, politicians and Hollywood bigwigs accused of various sex offence cases around the country puts hypersexuality – better known as sexual addiction – under the limelight. While these VIPs – House of Cards star Kevin Spacey and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein among them – and their therapists insist that they’re suffering sex addicts, the public cries foul saying they’re just making lame excuses to cover their sex crimes. Even therapists and medical experts are at odds about this condition.
Hypersexuality: which is which?
Addiction Or Not?
“The word addiction’s just so abused when it comes to this matter. There may be many treatment programs for [hypersexuality], but these don’t make it a disorder,” comments a leading psychiatrist and professor, an academic who’s directly involved in the recent update of the manual psychiatrists use to make mental illness diagnoses.
Majority of head doctors don’t recognize sexual addiction as a mental disorder – as attested by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-5] – despite pressures from many therapists.
“There are not enough strong evidence indicating that compulsive sexual behaviors affect the brain the same way addiction to alcohol or drugs does,” the leading psychiatrist adds. But he does contend that an individual’s unruly sexual behavior can morph into a severe dilemma – a view shared by many experts who, like the academic, don’t believe in hypersexuality as a form of addiction.
A Thin Line Separates
“A fine line stretches between being a sex addict and a sex offender. Occasionally, these two overlap,” says one psychologist, a therapist in a rehab center south of US offering counseling to sexual addicts.
While hypersexuality may move an individual to commit sex felonies, the enormous numbers of individuals who suffer from uncontrollable sexual urges don’t harass or assault other people.
The stats given by the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals indicate that about 2-5% of the general population is afflicted with hypersexuality. Nevertheless, only 10% of them commit crimes linked to the addiction. What’s notable is that the numbers agree on who are the most prone to being sex addicts and sex criminals — men.
A Sex Addict’s Story
Addiction or not — only the sufferers can tell.
Leon [not his real name], a businessman from Florida, says that his addiction to sex ran for 30 years of his life, its effects nearly crushing his desire to live.
According to him, the urge to have sex was so terrible he took to having anonymous sex at adult shops, spent most of his time masturbating to porn and even worked as a stripper and a phone sex company operator so that he could satisfy his desires.
“Others make fun of sexual addiction saying it’s such a pleasurable thing to be hooked on to, but I tell you, it’s not. There’s no pleasure in having a strong desire to have sex all the time. It’s excruciating and demeaning, instead,” Leon asserts.
And while there’s little evidence about the efficacy of sexual addiction treatments, therapists and sex addicts – like Leon – swear they work.
“There may not be a lot of data to show it but the changes we see in people after getting treated . . . well, we’re making a difference, and that’s all that matters,” voices out a counselor-therapist.