Professional Medical Body Says Porn, Sex Addiction Are Not Real

Professional Medical Body Says Porn, Sex Addiction Are Not Real

By McCarton Ackerman 12/07/16

A leading authority in the field has asked treatment professionals to not "unduly pathologize consensual sexual problems."

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Professional Medical Body Says Porn, Sex Addiction Are Not Real
Anthony Weiner

As sex and porn addiction continue to make headlines, medical experts are now fighting back by claiming that these aren't real mental disorders.

Last week, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, the main professional body for these professions, formally stated that there isn’t sufficient evidence to support the concepts of porn or sex addiction. Suggesting that “contentious topics” such as this “impede sexual education and health care,” the organization declared that “linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.”

It’s a significant position to take as more outpatient, and even inpatient centers, have been sprouting across the country to address these two issues. High-profile individuals such as Tiger Woods, Jesse James and Anthony Weiner have claimed to suffer from sex addiction in recent years, while reality star Josh Duggar entered a multi-month, faith-based inpatient program for porn addiction last year. 

David Ley, an Albuquerque-based clinical psychologist who wrote The Myth of Sex Addiction, even went so far as to suggest that sex addiction is essentially a cover-up line for people who are selfish and horny. He also argued that justifying bad behavior as a mental disorder takes the power away from people to believe that they can control their compulsive tendencies.

“[Sex addiction] ignores the fact that sex is always a complex, overdetermined behavior and that sex is often used by men to cope with negative feelings,” wrote Ley last August in New York Magazine. “Is Weiner getting the help he needs in his career, personal life, and relationship? Does he have other ways to try to make himself feel attractive and valued? Those are the questions that this latest incident raises. Sadly, calling him a sex addict ignores all of these much more important concerns.”

But while the likes of Jesse James and Anthony Weiner may not appear to be sympathetic figures, some medical experts do believe they have legitimate compulsive tendencies. Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a licensed marriage and family therapist and internationally renowned expert in treating addictive and behavioral disorders, said people with issues that fall under the realm of sex addiction need an integrated treatment program and not public shaming.

“While on the surface it appears they suffer from moral flaws and personal weaknesses, the truth of the matter is they suffer from a hyperactive limbic system that over rides the executive functioning of their brains,” he wrote last August in the New York Daily News. “The people I treat are not idiots or cartoon characters. They are human beings who suffer under the weight of searing emotional pain. My practice is filled with highly successful and intelligent men who compulsively act against their self-interests and in so doing, self-destruct.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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