Tag: sex addiction

Sex Addiction – What it is and what it isn’t. Does it exist? Is it real?

The following piece was written by Timothy Perper, PhD (1938-2014) for the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists list serve. It was written several years ago and I feel the need to unearth it again, since the issue still looms large.  This was his response to the professional member’s ongoing debate on whether sex addiction actually exists.

Timothy Perper, PhD response to: A self-identified sex addict

 

Reposted by permission of author from the AASECT listserve (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists)

 

Names within text, other than author, have been changed.

 

…I got to thinking about this business of “uncontrollable

sex urge.” I’m NOT — repeat, not, not, not — going to try to define

that; in fact, my point is that a definition suddenly and unexpectedly

EVADES us. I don’t mean just me; I’ve been reading this postings

(nearly 500 of them since 2006, as I just said) — the definition has

been evading all of us. Seems to me that maybe that’s part of the

problem.

 

When I was a teenager, I too had “uncontrollable sex urges.” My penis,

with a life of its own (a standing joke among men), would get hard in

the middle of high school classes. It just did that — and I wanted to

jerk off. I wasn’t able to talk it down; it ignored me and my

explanations that THIS is not the right time. Or sometimes on subways.

Or at other times.

 

And later in college, and even later than that, the same thing would

occur again and again: “uncontrollable sex urges.”

 

Oho! Now we reach a crux in the whole search for a definition.

 

At some point in college — though not in high school (for reasons I

don’t understand) — I discovered that I could eliminate these

“uncontrollable sex urges” by going to the men’s room, sitting in a

stall with the door locked, and jerking myself off. Then, for some

hours, I had no “uncontrollable sex urges” at all.

 

In brief, if the definition we are looking for arises from

“uncontrollable PENILE sex urges,” then the solution is simple. Go

find someplace private and masturbate to orgasm. End of that. Yes, I

know that some men have moral and other qualms about masturbation, but

that’s not what we mean by “sex addiction” — that’s called “sex

guilt” or something like that.

 

If so — and that “if” is very very large! — then no problems exist

about sex addiction. Find someplace private and masturbate. This

solution may be less effective for some women, but I’m going to set

that difficulty aside for a while. IF — repeat, IF, IF, IF —

“uncontrollable sex urges” are of penile (or vaginal/clitoral) origin,

then they can be resolved in a few minutes. End of story and discussion.

 

Now comes the big but. BUT, someone says, that’s not what

“uncontrollable sex urges” are about! They’re about sitting and

watching HOURS of porn on the internet, talking for HOURS on some sex

phone line, spending HOURS imagining copulating with someone. They

center on the uncontrollable desire to get laid.

 

And if so, then we have a different definition, and it has nothing to

do with “sex addiction” at all. It is an “uncontrollable” desire and

yearning for a CERTAIN KIND OF SOCIAL CONTACT — with the surrogate

human beings of internet porn, the less surrogate but still fantasy-

laden telephone partner, or the imaginary but completely social

fantasy of masturbating with not only HER (or him, perhaps) but with a

whole bunch of “hers” and “hims.” Those sessions of imagination are

barely sexual at all: sexuality provides a mechanism for imagining a

fantasy of a different life, a different world, a different place, of

different people than the ones we know. The penis or vagina has become

a portal taking us elsewhere — somewhere where we are wanted, are

desired, are happy, are never rejected, are satisfied and are

satisfying. In brief, we invent a utopia for ourselves — because we

do not live in such a utopia in reality.

 

The underlying engines of such fantasies are not sex — they are

loneliness, despair, unhappy alienation, anomie. Sex is simply a

vehicle by which we imagine a place and time where such loneliness

DOES NOT EXIST. In that world, we are happy.

 

So if a man — I explicitly do not mean Craig, whom I do not know at

all — tells me that he’s a sex addict, then I privately think to

myself, “And you’re a liar.” If you really and genuinely were an

addict of your penis, you would not be telling ME about it in this

bar, or party, or therapy session. You’d be off jerking yourself off

in the bathroom.

 

The same holds for a woman, who might say “I was a real sex addict in

college! I just had to get laid all the time, and all I could think

about was how I could hook up with Joe or Jeremy or Chad — ”  And

again my response is the same. “No, you’re not a sex addict at all. If

you were you wouldn’t be telling ME about it in this bar or party.

You’d be off in bed with Joe or Jeremy or Chad or maybe all three of

them, fucking their brains out. You wouldn’t be TALKING about it.”

 

Underlying everything I have read and heard about sex addiction and

the “uncontrollable sex urges” said to define sex addiction are the

engines of loneliness,  isolation, alienation, and despair.

It is therefore a social — NOT  SEXUAL — dysfunction,

and centers on the inability of the person to

provide him- or herself with people who love and want them. It

involves a FANTASY that sexuality — meaning penile and/or vaginal

contact — will satisfy those social needs for love. But because mere

penile and/or vaginal contact does not fill those needs, the recipe is

repeated, in the hope that maybe it’ll work out the NEXT time. Which

it does not, and we enter a cycle of repetition driven by unidentified

— but profoundly human — desires for social contact, for someone to

talk to, someone who likes you, and who wants to listen.

 

Did that describe me in high school? Oh, come on. Of course it did. I

would have given anything to have spent the whole day talking to (and

kissing) two or three of the girls I knew… like Jane, who sat next

to me in one class (I loved that class!), and like Amy, who I would

walk home with… Sometimes my penis got stiff, not surprising at the

age of 17, but always I wanted to be with Jane and Amy, stiff penis

or not. That’s not sex addiction. It’s desire and loneliness.

 

Tim

 

 

 

 

Tonight-Dec 15-The Erotic Literary Salon-Live, Your Belief in Porn Addiction Makes Things Worse

Tonight – http://theeroticsalon.com/category/press-release/

Your Belief in Porn Addiction Makes Things Worse

Sexual Addiction

The label of “porn addict” causes depression but porn watching doesn’t.
By David J. Ley Ph.D

Porn addiction is the idea that people (namely men) can become addicted to the widespread pornography, now so easily available on the Internet. You can’t turn over a rock these days, without finding some article, website, advocacy group, or therapist, claiming that porn addiction is a dangerous public health problem. The concept of porn addiction has a self-sustaining momentum, with online self-help groups, websites, TED talks, nonprofit groups, discussion boards and television shows, all promoting the idea that pornography triggers reward processes in the brain, and thus has the potential to become an addictive, destructive behavior. But, in recent years, chips have begun to appear in the facade of this monolithic morally-based concept.

In January 2015, Joshua Grubbs of Case Western, published (link is external)powerful research showing that seeing oneself as a porn addict was predicted not by how much porn one views, but by the degree of religiosity and moral attitudes towards sex. Now(link is external), Grubbs has published explosive follow-up research, demonstrating that believing oneself is addicted to porn actually causes pain and psychological problems, in contrast to the idea that identifying as a porn addict is a part of a road to recovery.

//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Snake-oil tonics and treatments – not a thing of the past.
Source: By Mister Serum (The snake oil serum) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Grubbs is a careful and thorough researcher, whose methodology is always well-planned and detailed. He’s not a “one and done” kind of researcher. Instead, his research often involves multiple connected studies, which serve to demonstrate the replicability of his findings, and offer the ability to follow threads of causality and theory through multiple groups and strategies. This study is no exception.

Grubbs started with a large cross-section of adults (1,047 total; 619 women, 422 men, six prefer not to say) drawn from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (link is external)workforce database. 713 of these participants acknowledged using porn in the past year (338 women, 370 men, five prefer not to say). Researchers then assessed frequency of pornography use and perceived addiction to pornography, by looking at self-perceived compulsivity, how much effort the person puts into viewing porn, and degree of emotional distress related to porn use. Next, researchers identified several components of psychological distress, including depressionstress and anxiety. Finally, they measured personality traits, to ensure that they could rule out effects of personality, from the effects of pornography, and perceived porn addiction.

In these data, daily porn use was weakly related to feelings of anger. But, seeing oneself as a porn addict was strongly correlated with depression, anxiety, anger and stress. The effects of personality traits such as neuroticism, which would predict higher levels of negative emotional states, regardless of other issues, were statistically managed to assure that the effects detected were related to the variables of perceived porn addiction.

Grubbs’ team then replicated this study with another cross-sectional pool of participants, this time from three different universities. Out of 3,055 students assessed, 1,215 (396 women, 816 men, three prefer not to say) admitted to using porn in the past year. Results supported again that actual porn use had no reliable relationship to emotional issues, but perceiving oneself as addicted to porn did (again, anxiety, anger, stress, and especially depression were predicted by how strongly someone felt they were addicted to porn).

Cross-sectional research design is a common limitation to interpreting causality, especially in research with porn or sex. Cross-sectional research only allows a “snapshot in time” and cannot truly reveal causation or “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” So, Grubbs’ team then did a one-year follow-up on the students. Longitudinal research in this manner is the gold-standard for better understanding what things actually cause the problems, as opposed to merely finding a correlation.

392 of the students were eligible for the one year follow-up, and 106 completed the follow-up assessment. While that might seem like a small number for follow-up, analyses between this group and the other baseline participants showed that there were no significant differences. Thus, this followed-up sample is a good representation of the larger group.

Analyses confirmed that the self-perception as a porn addict predicted distress one year later, where either porn use or personality characteristics did not. If someone believed they were a sex addict, this belief predicted downstream psychological suffering, no matter how much, or how little, porn they were actually using.

This means that the large-scale promotion of the concept of “porn addiction,” in the media, on the Internet, by self-proclaimed experts and by an industry that preys off of an unrecognized disorder, appear to actually be hurting people. By telling people that their use of porn constitutes a disease, they are promulgating suffering and anxiety, instilling into people that their use of pornography means there is something wrong with them, and that this use has potentially dire consequences.

The word iatrogenic(link is external) describes illnesses or damages that are acquired as a result of treatment. If you go into a hospital for an appendectomy, and get a staph infection in the hospital, that’s iatrogenic harm. The porn addiction treatment model is iatrogenic, creating harm under the guise of providing treatment and support.

//creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Source: By Nik Azwaa Azmi from Ampang, Malaysia (Snake Oil) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The model of porn addiction is one which serves many people, those who sell treatments for it, those who believe that sex and porn should be feared or controlled, and those who believe that they are helping others by spreading the word about the dangers of porn addiction. Unfortunately, this concept is now shown to do a disservice to the very people it purports to help.

It’s no surprise to me that the label of porn addicts predicts fear, distress, depression and anger. Over recent years, I’ve seen many vulnerable people call themselves a porn addict, with much shame and fear, despite using less porn than many other people. As with Grubbs’ research, I’ve found that this self-imposed label has much to do with moral values about sex and pornography, and often comes from an impoverished understanding of human sexuality. People walk into my office reporting this, and contact me online, after they’ve been shamed and labelled in online discussion groups. When one has little understanding that ALL people struggle at times with their sexual desires, it’s very easy to listen to moralizing proclaimers of doom, and declare one’s sexual desires to be abnormal and unhealthy.

The large industry of intertwined media, therapists, coaches and advocates who have obsessively and gleefully promoted the idea that porn is addictive, claim that they help people by providing an explanation and an intervention for the problems related to porn. In response to Grubbs’ findings, it’s now their obligation to demonstrate empirically that their label, their treatments and their theories are beneficial. Because right now, the evidence suggests that their treatment is hurting people.

The people who are making money and fame from the idea of porn addiction may claim that science hasn’t looked at their theories the right way – or looked at the right people. They may try to discredit the work done by Grubbs, and challenge his findings. These proponents of porn addiction treatment will have to produce real research that supports their actual work, rather than mere extrapolations from other findings. Until then, the model of porn addiction is an unethical, harmful treatment which exploits people, just like the hucksters who sold snake oil and things like radioactive (link is external)materials as medicine were engaged in harmful, dangerous and illegal practice.

Read More:https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/women-who-stray/201509/your-belief-in-porn-addiction-makes-things-worse

The Myth of Sex Addiction By David. J. Ley

http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Sex-Addiction-David-Ley/dp/1442213051/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450151095&sr=1-1&keywords=the+myth+of+sex+addiction

Sex Addiction Does Not Appear To Be A Disorder, UCLA Study Says (VIDEO)

Within the sexological community the sex addiction model is a contentious one. I have always believed people are responsible for their behavior. Self-identifying as a sex addict often stems from that individual’s sex partner not wanting as much sex as they do or feeling an internal drive or urge for sex and not handling these feelings within the framework of what society consider’s a ‘normal’ situation.

Even the DSM-5 did not include sex addiction in their recently revised edition.

Video:

Excerpts from article on recent sex addiction research:

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.”