Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in newspapers and on television about sex addiction. Stories about celebrities such as Tiger Woods and David Duchovny have raised interest and debate amongst health professionals and the general public. Many people who are struggling to make sense of things of their lives have been asking themselves whether their own problems might come down to something called "sex addiction'.
The Problems with Calling Something "Sex Addiction'.
But there are a few problems with this idea of sex addiction. To begin with, what actually is addiction? Is it a behavioural pattern? Is it a brain disorder? Something to do with chemicals in the brain? Is it treatable or untreatable? Because there are numerous definitions of addiction it can be very confusing for someone who starts thinking of him or herself as "an addict".
Another problem with this idea of "sex addiction' is: what happens to responsibility when someone starts thinking this way, that they are an addict? Does having an addiction mean a person is not responsible for his or her actions? Could sex addiction become an excuse for doing something that goes against a persons own values and beliefs?
And probably the worst thing about this idea of sex addiction is that it makes people feel bad. If you start thinking of yourself as a "sex addict' you will probably start believing you have a disorder or that you are sick or not normal. In a therapeutic context, this is often called the "internalising' of a problem. The problem - interpreted as "sex addiction' in this case has you thinking there is something wrong with you and you are the cause of it. Understandably, these kinds of thoughts can make a person feel quite shameful. And shame often traps and makes them afraid to talk about problems. So the problem becomes bigger and more influential than it was before.
So if sex addiction isn't the problem, what is?