Is Sex Addiction Real or Just an Excuse? (article)
Does it matter to Christians? I mean, guys like Challies say that “we are all virgins,” even if we’ve had sex outside of marriage ((Link): yes, really, he wrote that).
- A new study suggests that there’s no such thing as a clinical addiction to sex.
By Jillian Keenan|Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2013, at 11:49 AM
Does sex addiction really exist? A new study published in last week’s journal of Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology suggests that maybe it doesn’t—bad news for celebrities like Tiger Woods and Russell Brand who have made it trendy in recent years to claim a clinical addiction to sex as an explanation for sexual misbehavior.
The study (which, amazingly, is the first of its kind) measured how the brains of people who struggle with sexually compulsive behavior respond to sexual images. If sex can be addictive in the clinical sense, scientists theorized, then the neural response of sex addicts to pornography should mimic the neural responses of drug or alcohol addicts to their drugs of choice.
Instead, researchers found that hypersexual brains don’t react in the same way as other addicts’ brains—in fact, the neural responses to pornography only varied based on levels of sexual libido, rather than on measures of sexual compulsivity.
… “This is controversial territory because it represents a substantial shift in the way we view mental illness,” Dr. Nicole Prause, an assistant research scientist in the department of psychiatry at UCLA and one of the investigators involved with the study, told me.
“Most people describe high-frequency sexual problems as an ‘addiction’—that’s how the public and even many clinicians talk about it. But this data challenges the addiction model and forces us to reconsider how we think and talk about these problems.”
… “One of the big problems with the term ‘sex addiction’ is that it immediately assumes that you can apply the same kinds of research methodologies and treatments that you would use for substance addiction,” said Coleman. “There are no sex receptors in the brain to develop tolerance and dependence, as there are with alcohol and drug addiction.” Hypersexuals don’t experience seizures or other physical symptoms of withdrawal when they abstain, for example, like alcohol and drug addicts do.
Coleman suggests that for many people, hypersexual behavior seems to be a problem of impulse control or compulsive drive rather than a neural addiction. But, he added, even that explanation is probably too simplistic: Some people use sexual behavior to modulate mood states, and in others hypersexuality looks almost like attention deficit disorder.
“It’s really very complex,” said Coleman. “And there has not been enough research to fully examine all of the underlying mechanisms.”