Sex Addiction: A Dubious Diagnosis

The go-to excuse for adulterers is little more than pop psychology
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2009 9:34 AM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2009 1:57 PM CST
In this Oct. 17, 2008 file photo, Dr. Drew Pinsky, better known as radio and TV personality "Dr. Drew," poses for a photo at the Westwood One studios in Culver City, Calif.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, file)

(Newser) – It’s spawned a VH1 reality show, and it’s a great excuse for philanderers everywhere, but is sex addiction even real? Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon wasn’t convinced, so she consulted a variety of experts on the subject—many of whom aren't buying. One sex therapist calls it “flimsy pop psychology” that makes perfectly normal people believe they have a problem. Equating the hit of dopamine delivered during orgasm to drugs like crack, says sex columnist Dan Savage, is just "just ye olde sex negativity on display."

Sex addiction is a clinical euphemism for "sex they disapprove of for moral reasons," he adds. “These people are missionaries who want to put everyone in the missionary position,” says another sex therapist. Focus on the Family, for example, provides “treatment” for sex addiction and homosexuality, often conflating the two. And it's awfully easy to confuse compulsion and shame, Clark-Flory notes. "Do you regret last night's one-night stand because you did it compulsively, without being able to stop, or because you're afraid of being labeled a slut?" (Read more sex addiction stories.)

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