Despite Tiger and other star ‘sufferers,’ disorder isn’t real.
It seems inevitable that when a famous man gets in trouble for sex, he is immediately diagnosed as a sex addict. Tiger Woods, David Duchovny and Michael Douglas have all been “treated” for it, while the media has labeled everyone from Bill Clinton to Dominique Strauss-Kahn with the affliction.
The trouble is that sex addiction is nothing more than a pop-psychology phenomenon, serving only to demonize sex, enforce moral views of sex and relationship and excuse irresponsible behaviors.
The concept of sex addiction first appeared in the 1980s, though it has its roots in the history of the anti-masturbation movement that flourished in America a hundred years ago. Masturbation doesn’t make you go blind, and sex is not a disease. But these facts haven’t stopped people from falsely proclaiming that too much sex is bad for you, too much masturbation will turn you into a pervert and too much porn will turn a person into an uncontrollable pedophile or rapist.
It is commonly asserted that 3% to 5% of Americans are addicted to sex, though these numbers have no legitimate basis in science. Sex addiction has been rejected by the American Psychiatric Association, time and time again, because there is no scientific evidence that it exists.
The proponents of sex addiction use concepts borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, applying the 12-step model to sexual behaviors. For decades, sex addictionologists have refused to conduct their own science to defend their claims that sex is a disease and that too much sex causes psychological problems. Instead, they’ve used what I call “Valley Girl Science” to claim that sex addiction is real because it is “like” drugs and alcohol.
But sex is not like alcohol or drugs, no matter how much they claim that it is. Sex has no tolerance or withdrawal effects. No one has ever died from being unable to have sex, nor has anyone ever overdosed from sex.
Alcohol and drugs create changes in the chemistry of the brain, while during sex, the brain is working the way it is supposed to.
Does sexual desire affect our judgment? Yes, it does, but this is normal. Human sexuality is designed to make us want to have sex, and everyone has had the experience of wanting sex to the point that they get a little stupid. But it is a far stretch to reach from this mild effect of arousal to suggesting that sex takes away someone’s self-control. To suggest this would be to imply that all people (especially men) are potential rapists.
More than 85% of self-proclaimed sex addicts are male. The majority of men who enter sex-addiction treatment do so because they’re in trouble with their wives for infide