Sex addiction is a myth

A new study, undertaken at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), may debunk the existence of the ‘sex addiction’. The study group consisted of 52 participants – 39 men and 13 women – who could all potentially be classified as ‘sex addicts’. The participants all reported that they had frequent sexual urges, frequent sex and found themselves compelled to watch significantly more pornography than the average person.

The idea behind the study was to compare the neural responses participants had (to sex) with the neural responses of other addicts, such as alcoholics and heroin users. The researchers recorded the neural responses of participants when shown both sexual and non-sexual images. The results showed that sex addicts did not have the same kinds of neural responses as other types of addicts.

When being tested under similar circumstances, the neural responses of substance addicts, whether the substance was alcohol or heroin, were similar when compared to one another. The neural responses of sex addicts were markedly different, however, from those of substance addicts.

One of the UCLA researchers, Nicole Prause, explained, “their brains did not respond to the images like other addicts to their drug of addiction … Hypersexuality does not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response any more than just having a high libido.”

Although 52 participants is not a large enough sample size for conclusive evidence, the researchers feel that the results warrant further investigation. They believe that if the results can be replicated, then it would challenge existing theories of sex addiction.

Read more at the journal of Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology

Opinion: The dog ate my homework

In recent times many men, especially celebrities, have claimed a sex addiction as an excuse for not being faithful to their partners. A few women have even jumped on the bandwagon. The word ‘addiction’ suggests that a person’s actions are out of their control, and that in many cases we should pity them the affliction.

But really, how many of us think ‘I’m sorry you had to hurt your wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend by having sex with all those people because you just couldn’t help it’. It makes the idea of a sex addiction seem quite ridiculous.

This new research could invalidate the number one excuse of the unfaithful. Celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Tiger Woods, Russel Brand and even (as accused by his wife) Bill Murray will no longer have a leg to stand on when questioned about their excessive promiscuity.

If sex addictions are, for the most part, a myth, then I think that pretending to have such an affliction harms every other person suffering from a real addiction, by making light of their problem.

Do you believe that sex addictions are real? Or is a sex addiction just a good excuse for cheating?