Sex Addiction Not Real Disorder

There's no such thing as "sex addiction."

tiger-woods-southpark

There’s no such thing as “sex addiction.”

HuffPo (“Sex Addiction Does Not Appear To Be A Disorder, UCLA Study Says“):

Celebrities Tiger Woods, Russell Brand and David Duchovny all blamed their copious amounts of sex on a disorder: sex addiction.

But UCLA researchers say sex addiction does not appear to be a disorder, according to their study, which appears in the current online edition of the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology.

The study involved 39 men and 13 women who reported having problems controlling their viewing of sexual images. UCLA scientist Nicole Prause and her colleagues monitored the volunteers’ brains while showing them erotic images.

“If they indeed suffer from hypersexuality, or sexual addiction, their brain response to visual sexual stimuli could be expected to be higher, in much the same way that the brains of cocaine addicts have been shown to react to images of the drug in other studies,” a UC press release on the study explained.

And yet, that did not happen. Instead of being caused by an actual disorder, hypersexuality may be a result of having a high libido, Prause said.

“Potentially, this is an important finding,” she said in the press release. “It is the first time scientists have studied the brain responses specifically of people who identify as having hypersexual problems.”

Sex addiction reportedly affects 16 million Americans, CBS reports. And yet, the American Psychiatric Association excluded sex addiction as a disorder in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5.

Regular viewers of South Park already knew this.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tillman says:

    I never understood how you could be addicted to something necessary to propagate the species. It might be a social dysfunction, but it’s not a biological one.

  2. C. Clavin says:

    One of my friends gave his fiancee this excuse for his less than monogamous behavior.
    Luckily for her she was not as gullible as many believed.

  3. bill says:

    southpark did a great job on that one! like we need another disorder to get us out of acting normal? i don’t think alcoholism, drug addition, etc are disorders either- they’re weaknesses.
    and don’t get me started on people who can walk out of their cars while parking in the handicapped space…..no shame at all.

  4. Anderson says:

    I doubt it’s true in some of the absurd cases where it’s cited, but if a psych disorder is a behavior pattern you’re not able to alter even when it’s jeopardizing your ability to function, then certainly some folks have had some sort of sex addiction.

    I was just reading about John Paul Vann’s chronic inability to keep it in his pants, even in the midst of frantic action in Vietnam: “On 9 June, Vann flew to Saigon. In the morning he took time off to make love first to Lee [his mistress, as opposed to his Vietnamese “wife”], afterwards to two other women, before attending an afternoon strategy conference.” (Max Hastings, Warriors at 305.)

  5. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @Tillman:
    From a neurobiology perspective it sure can.

  6. Pinky says:

    @Anderson:

    but if a psych disorder is a behavior pattern you’re not able to alter even when it’s jeopardizing your ability to function, then certainly some folks have had some sort of sex addiction

    There could be other psychological things going on that aren’t a type of addiction. Weak impulse control, OCD, PTSD, personality disorders, et cetera. Even alcohol and drug addicts often have some underlying emotional issues that have driven them to chemical abuse.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    I am skeptical that the DSM V eliminated sexual addiction disorders, as opposed to reclassifying it. A quick google finds a new disorder called “Internet Use Disorder.”

  8. Neil Hudelson says:
  9. Neil Hudelson says:

    @bill:

    i don’t think alcoholism, drug addition, etc are disorders either- they’re weaknesses.

    And I don’t think someone could possibly be that ignorant, yet here we are. It’s funny how reality doesn’t always match what we think it should be.

  10. Anderson says:

    i don’t think alcoholism, drug addition, etc are disorders either- they’re weaknesses.

    Like stupidity?

  11. James Joyner says:

    @Anderson:

    Like stupidity?

    No, that one’s real. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

  12. Dr. Rory Reid says:

    As the Principal Investigator for the DSM-5 Field Trial on Hypersexual Disorder that was submitted to the American Psychiatric Association, I respectfully disagree with the conclusions being drawn from the findings in this study conducted by my colleague Dr. Prause at UCLA (whose office incidentally is right next to mine here at UCLA) While her results are certainly interesting, they fall short of discounting the legitimacy of hypersexuality among treatment seeking patients. I’ve posted my critique of her study on my website.

    Dr. Rory Reid
    Assistant Professor / Research Psychologist
    UCLA Department of Psychiatry