Sexual addiction is not a real disorder, according to the DSM-5, the authoritative psychiatric manual. But, many experts disagree. Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, addiction psychiatrist from Weill Cornell Medical College and author of Infidelity: Why Men and Women Cheat, as well as Neil Strauss, author of The Truth: An Eye-Opening Odyssey Through Love Addiction, Sex Addiction, and Extraordinary Relationships, discuss why they think sex addiction is real and what can be done about it.
The controversy surrounding the classification of sex addiction as a legitimate condition is centered around several concerns, namely that the DSM manual has made mistakes before, that psychiatrists may be over pathologizing normal human behavior, and that sex addicts are just seeking this classification as an excuse for their behavior. But, Dr. Rosenberg believes sex addiction is an entirely legitimate condition. It deals with dysfunctional sexual behavior in direct contrast with the addicted individuals’ ideals and moral standards, jeopardizing their families and, at times, their lives.
Dr. Rosenberg and Strauss say that sex addiction is often misunderstood. It’s often not about the sex itself, but about the validation and compulsion those who suffer from the condition experience, whether manifested in infidelity, pornography use, or visiting prostitutes. At the same time, they both believe that the 1-4% of the American population who have this condition should not be excused from the consequences of their behavior, especially any criminal acts, and should still be held responsible to manage their condition. Also, the two experts stress the importance of the harm this condition causes the victims, namely the spouses of sex addicts. Several treatments are offered for individuals with sexual addiction, including individual treatment, group therapy, and medication.
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