Do you doubt the legitimacy of sex addiction? Here's why you shouldn't.
Since I am a Licensed Mental Health Therapist, also certified as a Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT), I am very grateful for this new research. I provide services for people who have been gripped by the despair of living a secret sex life for ten, twenty, even thirty years or more. If you would like to stay up to date on the latest research sign up for my newsletter.
The devastation in their families is real; the pain and betrayal are not made up. I see it every day as families strive to mend from their loved ones' sexual addiction. Healing from the pain and loss can take years of hard work.
The criteria for the proposed hypersexual disorder in the DSM-5 is as follows:
A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges and sexual behavior in association with four or more of the following five criteria:
- Excessive time is consumed by sexual fantasies and urges, and by planning for and engaging in sexual behavior
- Repetitively engaging in these sexual fantasies, urges and behavior in response to dysphoric mood states (e.g., anxiety, depression, boredom, irritability)
- Repetitively engaging in sexual fantasies, urges and behavior in response to stressful life events
- Repetitive but unsuccessful efforts to control or significantly reduce these sexual fantasies, urges and behaviors
- Repetitively engaging in sexual behavior while disregarding the risk for physical or emotional harm to self or others
B. There is clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning associated with the frequency and intensity of these sexual fantasies, urges and behavior.
C. These sexual fantasies, urges and behavior are not due to direct physiological effects of exogenous substances (e.g., drugs of abuse or medications), a co-occurring general medical condition or to manic episodes.
D. The individual is at least 18 years of age.
The proposed hypersexual disorder also asks if any of these targeted behaviors are being used excessively:
- Sexual behavior with consenting adults
- Telephone sex
- Adult entertainment venues/clubs
The controversy surrounding whether or not a person suffers from a sexual addiction will continue for a long time. The inclusion of hypersexual disorder in the DSM-5 will not diagnose everyone with a sexual problem, as many fear, but it will give legitimacy to the problem and allow people to get help.
For example, currently the DSM-4 has a diagnosis of alcohol abuse with similar behavioral criteria for diagnosis. Just because someone drinks alcohol once in a while doesn't mean they fit the diagnosis. For the diagnosis, the person would need to meet the criteria set in the DSM-4. It would be the same for any sexual acting out behavior; if it doesn't cause a pervasive problem in your life, it would not be diagnosed.
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