Brain Scans Cast Doubt on "Sex Addiction" | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Brain Scans Cast Doubt on "Sex Addiction"

Sex addicts' brains don't respond to sexual images in the way that drug addicts' brains respond to images of drugs, researchers find.


Is sex addiction in the eye of the beholder?
Photo via

By Victoria Kim


| Share

Whether or not sex addiction is "real" has long been debated. The latest version of the DSM does not include sex addiction, and says only that the diagnosis of "hypersexuality"—a condition associated with out of control sexual urges and a high frequency of sexual behavior—demands further research. Now, researchers have examined for the first time whether the brain's response to sexual imagery can be predicted based on symptoms of hypersexuality. In the first step towards determining whether sex can be seen as addictive as drugs like heroin or nicotine, researchers examined a group of 39 men and 13 women who reported having trouble controlling their porn use or regulating their viewing of sexual stimuli. The researchers predicted that these self-identified "sex addicts" would exhibit the same neural responses when presented with visual stimuli (porn) as drug addicts do when viewing their drug of abuse. But the sex addicts' brains did not mirror drug addicts' brains' response to the visual stimuli—leading the research team to conclude that the data does not support a theory of "pathological hypersexuality." "Hypersexuality does not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response any more than just having a high libido," says study author Dr. Nicole Prause, assistant research scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA. But she adds that more research is needed before sex addiction can be dismissed entirely.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv