Sex Addiction Is Just a Myth, Study Suggests
Researchers study brain reactions for the first time
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2013 3:25 PM CDT
Tiger Woods in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

(Newser) – The term "sex addiction" might get tossed around a lot these days as a way to explain some not-so-classy behavior of the Anthony Weiner-Tiger Woods variety, but is it really an addiction on par with drugs or alcohol? The first study to explore brain responses in people who describe themselves as hypersexual suggests otherwise, reports UCLA. Researchers there showed the subjects—39 men and 13 women—sexual images, and discovered that their brains didn't respond in the same way that, say, a cocaine addict would respond to images of cocaine.

“Most people describe high-frequency sexual problems as an ‘addiction’—that’s how the public and even many clinicians talk about it," one of the researchers tells Slate. "But this data challenges the addiction model and forces us to reconsider how we think and talk about these problems.” The subjects have higher libidos, or sexual desire, but not necessarily a clinical medical problem. They still need help, but if further studies verify this first one, then the type of help they'll get will be affected. All of which might be OK, writes Jillian Keenan at Slate. "If we turn every single quirk of human sexuality into a 'disease,' after all, then we’re all screwed." The study is in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology.

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Aug 5, 2013 10:38 AM CDT
Wait - If it's not an addiction and these people just have higher libidos or certain preferences, provided these preferences don't involve children, animals or non-consenting individuals, why do they still need help? It sounds to me that what they need is a relationship/situation that allows them to fulfill their libido as opposed to hiding in an unsatisfactory situation where their needs cannot be met without damaging the relationship.
Jul 26, 2013 8:57 AM CDT
Sex addicition was merely a term conjured up to justify the impulsivity that lead the married man to have an affair in the first place. "Um, Doc...could we come up with something that could justify my cheating, as opposed to me having to accept any personal accountability?!?!"
Jul 25, 2013 10:59 AM CDT
Look closely at the wording. It is more accurately a compulsion, brought on by trauma, which becomes a coping mechanism. I engaged in a lifetime of shameful behavior and it wasn't until I was forced to look at the wreckage that I even realized I had a problem. I've been in SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) for a little over four years and went to the Meadows for treatment for three months. Now that I have finally developed healthy empathy, I can't imagine myself cheating on my wife again. It's the damaged moral compass that allows sex "addicts" to do things that others might cringe at the thought of. The mechanics may be different than substance addiction but the underlying shame and lack of boundaries, etc... is all there. This is why the 12 steps work for many people, including myself. I recommend the movie, 'Shame' as an accurate portrayal of how we look at the world. To those who are silently reading this in shame, please know that there is help and recovery IS possible.