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Sexual Addiction

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Sexual addiction refers to a controversial phenomenon in which individuals report being unable to control their sexual behavior. It has also been called "hypersexuality," "sexual dependency," and "sexual compulsivity." It affects all human beings and is not dependent on your sexual orientation or gender identity.  Studies currently show that 40 percent of people considered sexual compulsives are women.

The existence of the condition is not universally accepted by sexologists, and there is a lot of debate about its causes, nature, and existence. Proponents of the concept have offered many descriptions, each according to their beliefs related to the cause.


"Nymphomania" and "satyriasis" are not listed as disorders in the DSM-IV, though they remain a part of ICD-10, each listed as a subtype of "Hypersexuality."  The threshold for what constitutes hypersexuality is subject to debate, and critics question whether a standardized diagnostic threshold even exists. The consensus among those who consider this a disorder is that the threshold is met when the behavior causes distress or impaired social functioning.  The American Psychiatric Association publishes and periodically updates the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a widely recognized compendium of acknowledged mental disorders and their diagnostic criteria. The most recent version of that manual, DSM-IV-TR, was published in 2000 and does not recognize sexual addiction as a diagnosis

Addiction Model

Patrick Carnes, noted psychologist and author of Out of the Shadows, is a proponent of the addiction model of sexual addiction.   He proposed using the following symptoms as a definition of “Sexual Addiction:”

1.     Recurrent failure (pattern) to resist impulses to engage in extreme acts of lewd sex.

2.     Frequent engaging in those behaviors to a greater extent or over a longer period of time than intended.

3.     Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control those behaviors.

4.     Inordinate amount of time spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experience.

5.     Preoccupation with the behavior or preparatory activities.

6.     Frequent engaging in violent sexual behavior when expected to fulfill occupational, academic, domestic, or social obligations.

7.     Continuation of the behavior despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent social, academic, financial, psychological, or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by the behavior.

8.     Need to increase the intensity, frequency, number, or risk of behaviors to achieve the desired effect, or diminished effect with continued behaviors at the same level of intensity, frequency, number, or risk.

9.     Giving up or limiting social, occupational, or recreational activities because of the behavior.

10.  Distress, anxiety, restlessness, or violence if unable to engage in the behavior.

Obsessive/compulsive model

Jennifer Schneider, a physician certified in Internal Medicine, identified three indicators of the obsessive/compulsive model:

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Travel website: The Pink Agenda. Several Blogs. Weekly newsletter, available upon request. Publications - Fiction: Borrowing Time: A Latino Sexual Odyssey - Floricanto Press 2003. Poetry: The Refined Savage Poetry Review - Refined Savage (more...)
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