Self destructive behavior is often hard to fathom. A person who habitually cuts him/herself, a person who has risky sex with a stranger in a park at night, a person who eats to the point of being sick; such behaviors make no sense to the average person.
Such behavior can be seen psychologically as an escape, a coping strategy, a survival skill, or a way to restore emotional equilibrium.
Is internet porn addiction related to internet addiction? I don’t know of any data specifically on this point. My colleague Maria Robinson believes that porn addiction is “above all, an internet addiction”. She argues that addiction to internet porn has different properties from addiction to other sexual behaviors.
The standard set of categories currently in use to describe sexually addictive behavior according to three levels of severity is not wrong, but it has limitations. And I would argue that it can be misleading to sex addicts in treatment in a number of ways.
Here is the level system as described by Patrick Carnes in Out of the Shadows:
Currently everyone seems to form some kind of impression about Anthony Weiner’s or Bob Filner’s sexual behavior and what it means. But what do people really know? Clinical evaluation of someone’s sexual behavior involves a thorough interview and testing and consideration of how much or what kind of treatment they might need for the anticipated outcome. The person watching the events play out in the media doesn’t have all the information or expertise.
So how can the average voter know how to evaluate a candidate’s sexual indiscretions?
A diagnostic term is always a provisional construct, a tool for organizing information about phenomena we are trying to understand and work with. A construct will be “correct” as long as it is optimally useful.
Certain concepts get entrenched in popular as well as professional psychology. They remain in common usage long after the field has come to a better or fuller understanding of the phenomenon. It seems to me that in becoming clichés these ideas prevent us from understanding the psychological processes involved and from approaching them in a truly constructive way. Here are some of the concepts that most obviously cause me trouble in sex addiction treatment.
The manic hypersexuality often characteristic of bipolar disorder and the possibility of bipolar disorder in those diagnosed with sex addiction are sometimes difficult to untangle.
According to a handful of studies reported in the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) article “Opening the Door on Hypersexuality,” the prevalence of hypersexuality among people with bipolar disorder is anywhere from 25 to 80% with an average estimate of 57%. NAMI states:
If you have ever tried to relate to a serious narcissist you will realize that there is something different about it. Because narcissists are deeply insecure they need to constantly establish their power and worth. They are not like hypnotists they literally are hypnotists. It’s how they relate. The normal feelings you get with someone you like, feeling like you have “good chemistry” or feeling like you “hit it off” bear no resemblance to falling under the spell of a true narcissist.
A week ago the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) published its intention to work towards and devote research funding to a new system for mental health diagnoses as an alternative to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. The various incarnations of the DSM have been dubbed the “gold standard” of diagnostic criteria for mental disorders and have provided a common framework for practitioners, researchers and insurers to relate to.
Some people can look at internet pornography now and then and not become porn addicts. Others get hooked on porn very quickly and spend hours online, often jeopardizing their work, neglecting their families and wrecking their relationships.
Why are some people more at risk for internet porn addiction?