James W. Hicks, M.D.

Sexual Addiction

In Sexploration* on September 17, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Does sexual addiction exist?

Mental health professionals have been slow to recognize the problem, in part because of traditional assumptions that only drugs and alcohol are addicting, and that sexual deviancy depends on what a person finds arousing rather than on ones sexual appetite. But as the internet has brought pornography, chat, and escorts into everyone’s home office, and self-help groups have popped up for sex addicts, the profession has woken up to the challenge.

Like gambling, sexual behaviours can spin out of control. You become increasingly preoccupied with cruising for partners, hoarding pornography, fantasizing about sexual encounters, and masturbating to the point of exhaustion. You spend increasing amounts of time in pursuit of sexual gratification, to the point that you begin to lose sleep or fall behind at work. Your loved ones notice a change, and you waste even more energy trying to conceal your pursuits. You may try to cut back, but find it difficult to reign in your habits.

In an article in The Spectator, the author nicely describes his own experience becoming addicted to internet pornography, and his eventual recovery.

Why mention sexual addiction in a blog about flexible sexuality? If you are ashamed by your homosexual or bisexual urges, you should be reassured that those desires are natural and not themselves signs of deviancy or addiction. I don’t believe that any sexual orientation is inherently more hypersexual and vulnerable to addiction, except perhaps for the supersexual type. Even then, addiction is defined by the loss of control, not by how much or how often you want to have sex (which varies considerably from person to person).

But I suspect that sexual addiction is much more common than we realize and that some people who come across this blog might have worries about controlling their urges. If so, recognizing the problem and deciding to do something about it is a good first step.

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