Sex addiction intensely affects one’s most personal and delicate feelings. Because of the deep conflicts that come with it, sexual addiction is as well the most complex obsession an individual can have. With the appropriate approach, sex addiction can be overcome with easy, clear-cut, common sense means. Sexual addiction pertains to the phenomenon wherein individuals give accounts of being unable to deal with and control their sexual actions and behavior. It is also known as sexual compulsivity and sexual dependency (Cooper, 1998).
There have been different descriptions provided by the proponents of this concept, each one according to their preferred model of the supposed phenomenon. There still no any present consensus among sexologists on the subject of whether sexual addiction truly exists or if it does, how to describe and explain such phenomenon. There are experts who deem that sex addiction is an addiction literally, completely similar to drug and alcohol addictions (Kasl, 1990). Other specialists deem that sexual addiction is in fact a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and they call it as sexual compulsivity.
Other experts critique that sex addiction is merely a myth, one’s consequence of cultural influences amongst others. The DSM or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published and regularly updated by the American Psychiatric Association. This DSM is a broadly acclaimed compendium of recognized and known mental disorders and their respective diagnostic measures. In 2000, the most recent version was published and did not distinguished diagnosis called sexual addiction (Corley, 2002).
The phenomenon known as hypersexuality was proposed but the manual was clear that it was not being called as an addiction. The WHO or World Health Organization also releases the ICD or International Classification of Diseases. This is used worldwide and is not restricted to mental conditions only. The latest version of ICD had “excessive sexual drive” included in its diagnosis, with subdivision into nymphomania for females, and satyriasis for males. Media continuously portray sexual addiction to be something that is cool (Cooper, 1998).
Sex addiction occurs as an individual’s natural sex drive becomes misused. Sex addiction typically begins during the puberty stage of an individual but in some cases, it developed later in their lives. Once the addiction starts, it leads to pressure and urge the individual who can try to avoid it but will not succeed. If such addiction develops on the latter part of an individual’s life, there can be serious effects to his or her life. Movies together with other forms of media portray sex addiction to be fun and that sex addicts are enjoyable.
Once a sex addict, an individual will try to use sex in order to conceal or hide his personal troubles and problems, similar to when a drug addict uses drugs and an alcoholic consumes himself up to booze. Sexual addiction really delivers immediate excitement and ecstasy like any other addiction, but is followed by lasting and continuing suffering and miseries (Kasl, 1990). The euphoric feeling that goes along with sexual addiction comes from the chemicals that the one’s brain releases rather than from an outside source such as drugs or alcohol (Corley, 2002).
When one’s mind becomes used to these chemicals that are being released, it seeks out for constant sources of that high. Sex addiction takes on several different forms such as patronization of prostitutes, pornography and masturbation to frequent sexual concerns, and voyeurism. Rape and molestation can happen in extreme cases and situations, and even murder is possible. One thing common about these different forms of sex addiction is that the individual’s behavior is kept secret and this sexual addict becomes practiced and capable in hiding his ‘secret’ self to the people close to him.
Sex addiction is not linked solely to just a single factor but more likely with a built up of several conditions as time passes by. Some sex addicts have been exposed to pornography during their younger years and often used porn and masturbation to escape into their fantasies. Other causes of sex addiction could be from physical as well as sexual abuse as a child, traumatic experiences at a young age, emotional trauma, or abandonment. There are several ways for a person to know if he is becoming or has become a sex addict.
Masturbating often or finding the frequency increasing is one sign of becoming a sexual addict. Those who are drawn to pornography sites and often visit them as well as go to live strip clubs are also more likely sex addicts already. For those who are married, guys who need pornography for them to have intimate and sexual connections and relations with their wives are most likely sexual addicts as well. Aside from that, having an affair that is mostly sexual in nature, outside of his marriage can also be an indication of the addiction.
These signs are some of the basis for the early stages of sex addiction. For those people who are extremely addicted to sex there are further indications. These include having to masturbate for more than three times a day, being a frequent customer of prostitutes, having/had multiple sexual affairs, and engaging in sexual actions or behavior that is quite extreme and could have even led to being arrested (Earle, & Ralph, 1989). Sex addiction is assumed to be associated most of the time with manic-depression, narcissistic personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive behavior/disorder (Carnes, 2005).
Some cases have it that the individual suffer from more than one of the said conditions all at the same time but characteristics of addiction are often failed to be distinguished from the disorders. Specialists of obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as addictions explain that obsession is persistent and progressive in sex addiction, and it develops alongside with denial. Sex addicts tend to deny, make excuses, and justify their behavior and actions. Sex addicts oftentimes display narcissistic characteristics as well.
Sexual addiction has been proposed in different accounts. Patrick Carnes, an expert on sex addiction in the United States suggested that sex addiction is when an individual is strongly preoccupied with the preparatory activities or behavior concerning sex, frequent engagement in sexual behaviors to a more intense extent or a longer period of time than what was planned. In sex addiction according to Carnes, the individual is unsuccessful in trying to reduce, control or stop his sexual behaviors.
The sex addict also tends to limit or give up his occupational, social, and recreational activities because of his sexual behavior (Carnes, 2005). Unlike alcohol addiction, sexual addiction has different forms. Fetish addiction focuses more on an object rather than a person. It is considered to be a more indifferent escape from one’s reality. Such form of sex addiction enables the addict to experience sexual contentment and pleasure with no desire of human contact.
Voyeurism is another type of sex addiction where the individual longs for sexual pleasure without the chance of intimacy or even exposing or disclosing his self. Also known as the Peeping Tom syndrome, voyeurism removes the individual from emotional weakness or vulnerability. Since this type relies on the use of another person to stimulate sexual desires, this addiction falls under the type of addictive sex with someone, different from fetish addiction, which is addictive sex by one’s self.
Another type of addictive sex which is more known to young adults is phone sex. Physical contact among the participants may be nonexistent in such addiction, the sex addict is using his phone partner to stimulate his sexual desires which he could not do and experience alone. Sadomasochism is another form of addictive sex with another person. It goes further than passing up intimacy as it is based on acquiring sexual pleasure by means of damaging and humiliating sex acts or deeds. Necrophilia is the darkest fantasy of all fantasies.
The sex addict or necrophiliac loses control of his addictive sex life and escapes totally from reality. Denial is usually a major characteristic that describes sex addicts. Most people who are addicted to sex deny their obsession, making it hard for them to be treated as it is important for a person to accept and admit his problem in order for him to be taken care of. In most cases, sex addicts need significant events to occur in their lives like failure of a marriage, loss of career, health crisis, or an arrest, for them to realize and admit their problem.
It is important for sex addicts to seek help in order to prevent further harm to his self and to others. Sexual addiction is not something that should simply be ignored and taken lightly. Treatments of sex addiction gives focus on influencing and controlling the behavior of the individual and help him develop a healthier sexuality (Corley, 2002). Education concerning healthy sexuality, together with individual counseling and therapy are some forms of treatment for sexual addicts.
There are also support groups and programs for individuals who are sex addicts that can help them understand and overcome their situation. There are also some medications used to control the compulsive nature of sexual addiction such Anafranil and Prozac. Putting a stop to one’s sexual addiction will certainly have a significant impact in the individual’s life. Change of behavior and actions would mean a new and fresh life from him. This will help him make a better person and keep a healthy sexuality throughout his lifetime.