Sex worker. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons
Sex worker. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

While it may be a popular concept for therapists around Southern California and the nation, there just is not enough evidence to show sex and porn addiction is a real mental health disorder.

And as it’s not a real mental health disorder, don’t try to blame away your out-of-control desires on some “medical problem.”

Those are the conclusions of a study released Tuesday by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

Because there is no sufficient “empirical evidence” to support the sex addiction mental health claim, the association concluded that “linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors” to sex addiction “cannot be advanced … as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.”

Describing itself as “the leading national body of sexuality educators, counselors and therapists,” AASECT said it recognizes that people may experience “significant physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual health consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors.”

Douglas Braun-Harvey, one of the authors of the study, said sex problems should not be dismissed.

“These are real problems, but sex therapy counseling and education requires a higher standard of sexual science to ensure sexual rights and sexual health,” he said. “The sex addiction concept is an oversimplification of a complex area of human sexual behavior and is not substantiated by sexual science and sex therapy. I think the most important thing to remember is that there are people who are suffering from their sexual behavior being out of control, but what ends up happening is that the suffering, the fear and the consequences it brings to their careers and families get prematurely and very quickly labeled sex addiction.”

AASECT pointed out sex addiction continues to make headlines with former politicians like Anthony Weiner checking into a sex addiction rehabilitation center and the state of Utah and the GOP declaring pornography use to be a public health hazard.

Russell Stambaugh, another author of the AASECT study, said science does not now support the idea of sex addiction as a mental health disorder.

“… the best scientific studies do not currently support the theory that sex can be an addiction directly analogous to cocaine, heroin, alcohol or nicotine. That similar neural pathways may sometimes be shared by sexuality and other sources of pleasure and reward, including those involved in true addictions, reflects correlation but does not establish causation. The scientific evidence is also weak that one will lose erectile function or partner desire from over-use of erotica.”

 

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