All the same, "sex addict" it was going to be when Laid Bare hit the shelves. My Australian publisher wanted to use "sex addiction" on the back cover, even though I'd addressed the phrase in the book and thought I'd adequately debunked it. We differed on what it meant. I let it slide.
Newspapers pushed a similar line when extracts were sold. "Confessions Of A (Reformed) Sex Addict" screamed the headline in the Sunday magazines of The Sun Herald and The Sunday Age, two high-circulation newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne, the biggest cities in Australia.
Was this really how the rest of the world saw me? In short, yes. It's very easy to scandalize behaviour that deviates from the norm.
But is this label accurate? Was I an addict just because I was engaging in more sexual encounters than most people would? Was I in need of help — or was I just loose? How was this label even valid when there’s a view among some experts that sex addiction isn’t even a diagnosable condition?
Dr Marty Klein, a sex therapist in Palo Alto and author of the book Sexual Intelligence, said as much in a piece for The Humanist in its July/August 2012 issue: "In 31 years as a sex therapist, marriage counselor and psychotherapist, I’ve never seen sex addiction. I’ve heard about virtually every sexual variation, obsession, fantasy, trauma and involvement with sex workers, but I've never seen sex addiction."
As did Dr David J. Ley, author of the book The Myth of Sex Addiction, in the New York Post: "Sex addiction is nothing more than a pop-psychology phenomenon, serving only to demonize sex, enforce moral views of sex and relationships, and excuse irresponsible behaviors … [it] has been rejected by the American Psychiatric Association, time and time again, because there is no scientific evidence that it exists."
So what drove my behavior? In my view it was a combination of a number of things: unhappiness, heartache, grief, loneliness, horniness, opportunity, testosterone, desire, the need for affection — even my OCD.
Says Klein: "People who are in pain about their sexual decision-making are generally struggling with one or more of the following: compulsivity, impulsivity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. An idiosyncratic response to medication can even be a factor."
And this: "Calling this behavior an 'addiction' validates the idea that these people are out of control. Instead, we need to say that feeling out of control isn’t the same as being out of control."
Now I may have been compulsive, impulsive, and even a bit stupid at times, but I've always been in control. I’ve made choices about the women I slept with. I was able to walk away. And I had standards. Keep reading...