Some of us have known this intuitively for a long time. The first person I remember claiming to be a “sex addict” was Boston Red Sox great Wade Boggs after he was caught sleeping around during road trips and so forth. He went on talk shows talking about his “problem” and the media ate it up.
Once established as a non-laughable narrative, reckless horn dogs have been making good use of the “addiction” claim to paint themselves as victims rather than sexual predators and serial adulterers, which is why Anthony Weiner was not laughed out of the country when he tossed out the claim that he would be seeking “treatment” after the first tweet-my-junk incident.
But the whole time this notion has been out there, no one has ever done a clinical study to determine if “sex addiction” is really a legitimate clinical condition. Until now.
And the researchers at UCLA are not sold, as Slate reports:
For the study, researchers recruited 52 people (39 men and 13 women) who reported having difficulties controlling their use of pornography and used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure their brain responses to various images. Some images were sexual in nature, such as kissing, nudity, and penetrative sex, while others were designed to be neutral or even unpleasant, such as pictures of skiers and dismembered bodies. Researchers analyzed brain response to the pictures in the first 300 milliseconds after the images appeared, commonly called a “P300.”
“We expected the brain response to sexual stimuli to be consistent with other drugs of addiction, or even other behavioral addiction studies,” said Prause. “But we just don’t see that at all. We weren’t able to find evidence for any relationship between the measures of high-frequency sexual problems and the brain response to sexual images.”
. . . This has reignited the ongoing debate about whether sex and other so-called behavioral addictions—also known as process addictions, such as shopping and tanning—should be considered pathological alongside substance addictions such as nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. The third edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, released in 1987, included the term “sex addiction” under the category “Sexual Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified,” but that term was removed in subsequent editions. Hypersexual disorder was considered for inclusion in the recently released DSM-5 but was removed by the final draft.
Sorry, Carlos Danger.
Reckless sexual behavior is a moral failing, not a clinical disorder. The media and the culture would like to mainstream every form of moral degradation, thus eliminating any and all standards (except “hypocrisy,” which is the loophole through which they can continue nabbing conservatives and Christian preachers). But since the culture hasn’t quite slunk that low they can at least strike a blow against judgmentalism by categorizing this stuff as a “disease” or “disorder.”
Got caught? Announce your intention to “seek treatment.” No one can say a word.
It’s pretty obvious to anyone willing to see it that Weiner’s only disorder is dishonesty, with a tinge of narcissism mixed in. He wants to be a successful politician, and he wants to act recklessly in his personal life. That’s the whole idea. Preen for the masses as a big-time representative, and enjoy the trappings – which includes sexting with 22-year-old female admirers. That’s not a disorder. That’s a very twisted vision of how you want your life to go, and of course you lie about it because that’s what reckless politicians do.
I don’t suppose this one study will be enough to destroy the “sex addiction” narrative, or to stop lazy journalists from using the term. But they never should have been using it in the first place. Something is not an addiction just because a guy who got caught thought to shield himself by making up a new clinical condition to excuse his behavior. Now there’s research to back up what many of us understood all along.
You’re not sick. You’re just a reckless horn dog.