Psych Central

Archive for May, 2011

Is Claiming You’re a Sex Addict Just an Excuse for Bad Behavior?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

sex addictionAs powerful, international figures Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Arnold Schwarzenegger deal with the fallout of their various sexual exploits -  ranging from sexual assault to chronic infidelity – the question “is it just bad behavior or a real disorder” often comes barreling to the forefront.

Another common thought is: sex addiction sounds like the kind of problem most guys would love to have.

Well, here is the truth about living with shame, secrecy, narcissism, and other words that accompany the behavior of someone with sexual addiction and intimacy disorders: for the sex addict is about as much fun as alcoholism is for the alcoholic. Many adults enjoy drinking now and then; and while some people drink socially, others drink a bit at the end of the day to relax and some even get drunk once in a while (New Years, etc). For these people, which means most drinkers, drinking alcohol is both fun and optional.

But there are others for whom drinking is neither fun nor optional: people who have no control over where their first drink will lead them AND who have a history of negative consequences related to past alcohol abuse. We call those people alcoholics, and for them (estimated at 6-8% of the population) alcohol is not a good thing. These individuals have to be very careful and persistent about not drinking because, if they start, alcohol will eventually destroy their lives.


Sex Addiction, Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn: Understanding Men in Power Who Sexually Act Out

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Yesterday International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged with a criminal sexual act and attempted rape. Today Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a child with a housekeeper/maid during the course of his marriage with Maria Shriver – causing their separation. This revelation along with his past history of Schwarzenegger’s privately admitted, but publicly dismissed “groping of multiple women” paints a picture of yet another man in an influential political and public role who clearly suffers from a highly concerning sexual and intimacy disorder – most likely sex addiction.

This latest scandal again raises questions about why some men in powerful positions often live out a double life one public and one private that involves impulsive an compulsive sexual behavior. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to Reuters news service about this matter. I stressed that although a sense of strength and fearlessness and a near disregard of consequences can make for great, powerful leaders, problems come when these leaders do not acknowledge that they are human. If their narcissism or egotism isn’t matched by a healthy dose of humility of what it means to be human…and they run on their intellect and don’t attend to their emotions on any level…then they are bound for trouble.


Does Watching Porn Affect Intimate Relationships? (Part Two: Women)

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Last week, the topic at hand was on adult male porn use. This week, we’ll explore the other side of the spectrum – spousal/partner interest and adult female porn use…

How should women determine how comfortable they are experimenting in the bedroom and when does healthy experimentation become a vehicle for his porn fantasies?

The rule of thumb for the woman is – TRUST YOUR FEELINGS! Most healthy women know if they are doing something sexual just to please a guy – even when it is not their favorite thing (which is not always a bad thing unless it is abusive – if you love someone you may surrender yourself to the will of your spouse and visa versa). But healthy women also know when they are being used by a guy who just wants them to consistently be an object, when is not connected to them at all.


Does Watching Porn Affect Intimate Relationships? (Part One: Men)

Monday, May 9th, 2011

There is a documented relationship between the amount of adult male porn use and spousal/partner interest. The more frequently he uses porn and/or the longer the periods of his viewing porn, can cause detachment from his partners, to the point where he is ‘dating’ porn and his need for a partner dwindles.

Increased and consistent porn use in heterosexual men will cause the following to occur:

1. Reduced interest in sex and physical intimacy with long-term spouse/partner.

2. Increased overall sexual objectification of strangers – checking them out more, seeing them visually more as body parts as individuals with lives/roles, etc.

3. Increased overall view of all females as sexual objects, but not just physically (as above), but also in terms of a lower regard for women as people in general (i.e. he becomes less respectful, less considerate of feelings). A man who is viewing a great deal of porn will show a reduced empathic connection to women.


Hypersexuality and The DSM V

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

There will always be controversy when any form of inherently ‘‘normal’’ human behaviors such as eating, exercise or sexual behavior, become medically ‘‘pathologized’’[1]. To this point, the past 25 years has wrought a troubled and inconsistent history in the attempts of the psychiatric and mental health communities to accurately label and diagnose the problem of “excessive sexual behavior.”

In 1987, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders or DSM-III added the concept of sexual addiction for the first time as, “distress about a pattern of repeated sexual conquests or other forms of non-paraphillic sexual addiction, involving a succession of people who exist only as things to be used.”

Subsequent versions of this same diagnostic manual (DSM IV & DSM IV-TR) first discontinued this terminology primarily due to “insufficient research” and “lack of expert consensus” only to again reintroduce it as a vague and general term called “Sexual Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.” Rather than giving psychotherapists a much needed tool toward diagnosing these types of sexual disorders, the adoption of this (NOS) term actually added to the confusion by being both non-specific and lacking the kinds of concrete symptom descriptors from which all accurate diagnosis are made. This diagnosis was and is a best a half-measure

Interestingly, during this same period of clinical disagreement and disorganization, the concepts of sexual addiction, porn addict, sexual compulsivity etc. all have become part of the popular lexicon, gaining widespread acceptance and even partial therapeutic legitimacy. Among the chief contributors to this change is the work of those professionals who have continued the research and treatment of problem sexual disorders, a technological, Internet-related rise in addictive, compulsive and impulsive sexual problems, along with multiple highly publicized portrayals of famous individuals whose problem patterns of sexual behavior have been heavily exposed by the media.

In addition, thousands of people on a daily basis today attend international 12-step support groups like Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, voluntarily working to alleviate their self-diagnosed struggles with problem patterns of addictive non-offending sexual behavior.

An overview of “Hypersexual Disorders” research along with documented evidence of sexual …


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