Last year, while I was still working for another publication, I wrote a piece about sex addiction. Apparently, though, the entire piece should have been retitled, because sex experts believe that addiction to sex is merely a myth.
According to Tonic, sex therapist Doug Braun Harvey, along with thousands of his colleagues of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), debunked the belief that a person can be addicted to sex. They even went as far as issuing a statement, saying this, per Tonic:
"From a scientific perspective," the statement read, "sex addiction is not real."
Sex addiction, at its core, is believed to be when a person engages in harmful or compulsive sexual activity, particularly intercourse, despite negative consequences. Due to that, places like Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, among others, exist to help people battle their sexual demons—much like an alcoholic would.
Thanks to Harvey and his colleagues at the AASECT, though—one of whom is clinical psychologist David Ley—sex addiction is nothing more than a figment of our imaginations.
"Sex addiction is truly a social phenomenon, not a clinical or medical one," says David Ley, a clinical psychologist based in New Mexico and the author of The Myth of Sex Addiction. "Most people who self-identify as sex addicts do so because they or their spouse read an article or saw a talk show about sex addiction."
For those who need cold-hard facts on the topic, a 2015 study published in the National Library of Medicine supports the theory, relating sexual addiction to a behavioral addiction like gambling. That research supports the claim that, like gambling, the brain gets stimulated directly through behaviors than with substances like that of alcohol.
With nearly 90 percent of supposed self-identifying sex addicts male, the belief is that these men have deeper psychological issues like anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia, and that the self-diagnosis comes following the acknowledgement of societal norms—like how much one should masturbate or watch porn.
Ley touches on this topic below, via Tonic:
"Ley tells the story of one client, an 18-year-old boy, who came to see him because he was concerned he might be addicted to masturbation. "Turned out, he was only masturbating about once a week, but because he'd been taught that any masturbation was immoral and unhealthy and dangerous, he was terrified," Ley says. "He went online and was diagnosed by sex addiction therapists and online group discussions."
With no surefire solution to treating someone who's a "sex addict,"—outside of general counseling—many of these sex experts are simply saying that there's no true sign that one person can be labeled as such.