Sex Addictions: The Master deBate

Wow! I just watched a colleague’s interview on NBC on the topic of whether sex addiction is real or not. Although I have tremendous respect for this particular individual and love their work, I couldn’t disagree more with their response during the interview.

Yes, it’s true that the DSM IV and many mental health professionals do not recognize sexual addiction as a valid diagnosis.  I am convinced after several decades of working with couples where betrayal is the rule rather than the exception, that sexual addiction is alive and well and destroying lives, marriages and families in its wake.  For starters, my colleague said that the way you can tell that someone has an addiction is if that is the only thing they can think about and because of this obsession, it gets in the way of work and other facets of life.  I have worked with countless couples where one partner- usually the man, but not always- is so focused on hunting down the next sexual partner and engaging in that relationship, despite continual promises to oneself to stop, that the rest of their lives become unimportant. I have worked with men who masturbate for hours- at work- until their penises actually bleed. How much fun do you think that is?

So many of the folks who have sexual addictions hate themselves, wish they could stop but don’t know how. They need help. Does this sound familiar? Does this sound, let’s say, like alcohol addiction? Or are people just making it up when they say alcohol addiction is truly an addiction? Although I am not an expert on the biology of addiction, suffice it to say that hunting down sexual partners, having sex, experiencing orgasms creates powerfully reinforcing biochemicals in our brains and bodies. This could account for some of the obsessive behavior engaged in by people who have addictions. This is not to say that every person who is unfaithful once or even multiple times is addicted to sex. It is possible to simply be unfaithful without the component of addiction.

Having said that, in light of our not really knowing the truth about addiction, I think it is hurtful to couples dealing with this issue and incorrect to say that this sort of behavior is simply a matter of taking advantage of opportunities and feeling entitled. That is far too simplistic. I have walked the path with couples whose lives have been shattered by addiction and have attempted to help them heal and learn the skills they need to overcome this very real and very painful problem.

Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.

About mwd27

Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW is an internationally renowned relationship expert, best-selling author, marriage therapist, and professional speaker who specializes in helping people change their lives and improve important relationships. Among the first in her field to courageously speak out about the pitfalls of unnecessary divorce, Michele has been active in spearheading the now popular movement urging couples to make their marriages work and keep their families together. She is the author of seven books including her best-selling books, DIVORCE BUSTING: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again, and THE SEX-STARVED MARRIAGE: A Couple's Guide to Boosting Their Marriage Libido. Michele's work has been featured in major newspapers such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and magazines such as Time, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Essence, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Woman's Day, Men's Health, New Woman, and McCall's. Michele is a marriage expert on Redbook's advisory board, and She has made countless media appearances on shows such as Oprah, 48 Hours, 20/20, The Today Show, CBS This Morning, CBS Evening News, CNN, and Bill O'Reilly. Michele's Keeping Love Alive program aired on PBS stations nationwide. She recently completed a reality based show for the BBC about helping couples save their marriages. Michele maintains that her true expertise in helping couples have great relationships is derived from first-hand experience. She and her husband have been married for more than thirty years.
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