Sex/Porn Addiction, a myth? According to Marty Klein it is

Submitted by Conflict on
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The diagnosis of "sex addiction" has become popular with both lay people and professionals in recent years. But it is a destructive and irresponsible one that should be discontinued. In 21 years as a marriage counselor & sex therapist, I've never seen a single case in which the label "sex addiction" was clinically useful. That's because there is no such thing. What we clinicians do frequently see includes:

* Poor decision-making: Even the healthiest people occasionally behave sexually in ways which later they regret.

* Poor impulse control: This, too, we all experience to one degree or another with money, food, TV, gossip, etc. Most of the time it is simply inconvenient; sometimes it gets out of hand.

* Obsessive-compulsive behavior: A small number of people think, feel, and do things that they don't want to do. Whether it's exhibitionism or hand washing, they are driven: the more they try to stop, the worse they feel, and the more they have to do it.

* Psychotic or sociopathic personalities: This small group of people has impaired reality-testing, and typically behaves with complete disregard for even the most basic social conventions.

Addictionologists now call all of these behaviors, when sexuality is the vehicle, symptoms of the same poorly-defined disease--"sex addiction." Supposedly, "sex addicts" can't control themselves; they cannot be cured, they can only "recover."

But I say that, except for a handful of truly disturbed people, all of us have the ability to control our sexual energy. For the vast majority of people, "being out of control" sexually is a metaphor, a metaphor we clinicians see every day in countless non-sexual forms. It's more accurate to say, instead, that for many people, controlling sexual urges is difficult or emotionally painful. Relinquishing our power--FEELING out of control--is a classic defense to reduce this pain. By encouraging people to admit that they ARE powerless, they are prevented from examining how they've come to FEEL powerless--and what they can do about that feeling.

Saying that people are powerless over sex, the fundamental definition of "sex addiction," undermines them. It robs people of the tools they need to understand or (if they wish) change their lives. And it relieves people of the responsibility for developing an adult sexuality, one that involves subtleties, choices, and strong feelings such as fear, anxiety, anger, joy, and passion.

The concept of "sex addiction" is a set of moral beliefs disguised as science, as reflected in these fundamental concepts of "sex addiction" training programs and Sexaholics Anonymous:

* Sex is most healthy in committed, monogamous, heterosexual relationships
* There are "obvious" limits to healthy sexual expression (for example, masturbation more than once a day)
* Choosing to use sex to feel better about yourself or to escape from problems is unhealthy.

The concept of "sex addiction" really rests upon the assumption that sex is dangerous. There's the sense that we frail humans are vulnerable to the Devil's temptations of pornography, masturbation, "promiscuity," and extramarital affairs, and that if we yield, we become "addicted."

The "sex addiction" movement is also dangerous in the way it supports the anti-sexuality forces in this country. "Sex addiction" is the Right's newest justification for eliminating sex education, birth control clinics, gay/lesbian rights, and books like "The Color Purple" from school libraries. We should not be colluding with this destructive, life-denying force.

If mass murderer Ted Bundy had announced that watching Bill Cosby reruns had motivated his awful crimes, he would have been dismissed as a deranged sociopath. Instead, Bundy proclaimed that his "pornography addiction" made him do it, and many Right-wing feminists and conservatives treated this as the conclusion of a thoughtful social scientist. Why?

Virtually no one in the field of sexology believes in the concept of "sex addiction." All clinicians and thoughtful people should reject any model suggesting that men and women must spend their lives 1) fearing sexuality's destructive power; 2) being powerless about sexuality; 3) lacking the tools to relax and let sex take over when appropriate. In these terrible anti-sex times, one of our most important tasks is to reaffirm that sex, though complex, is precious, not dangerous.

Certainly I exhibit many traits of what he speaks of. But the ignorance of a person holding a PH.D. is scary.

He believes the classification of sex/porn addiction is a moral thing, rooted in disgusted christian agendas. For a lot of sites and people, I believe it is true. But I know first hand the negative personal effects it could all have and I do know many people use sex/porn as self medication just like some use Cocaine.

Even though I think he's an idiot, it still fuels this paranoia in me that I am in denial and slowly but surely finding myself become a christian.

Thanks for posting this

Yes, it is scary. He's right that most sexologists don't see the problem. But that's because their professional organizations evolved from the Kinsey movement. Kinsey believed that the only problem with sex is that some Christians (and perhaps others) were "anti-sex" and "anti-pleasure." And that if we could all overcome that legacy, sex would purely be about pleasure..."the more orgasms the better."

This was a good theory (I believed it...insofar as I evet thought about the bigger picture when I was younger). And the theory had some basis, because making sex "sinful" definitely makes it *more stimulating* to engage in...and therefore more potentially addictive. A healthy, open debate about sex is generally a Good thing. The trouble is that therapists like this guy are squelching debate by refusing to consider other ways that sex can become unhealthy and compulsive and what alternatives might be around for managing it differently for more balanced results. (Kinsey was himself a sex addict, who defined himself as healthy because he didn't realize his true situation.)

In short, a "good theory" is not necessarily a valid theory, and now that we know more about how sex affects the brain, it's apparent that the reality goes far beyond a few bad Christian ideas. One really *has* to take into account the neurochemistry of addiction to understand the reality. At that point, it matters not what label one uses. If someone has lost his or her freewill and is behaving compulsively and it is causing misery, not pleasure, then it's helpful for us all to learn what might help that person regain their free will and rediscover the other pleasures that are only available when one is off the addiction wheel.

The thing is, the neurochemistry is so new, and not yet generally understood, especially by therapists trained in "Kinsey think," that it will take time for humanity to revise its understanding here. It's happening...but slowly.

Conflict...don't worry about labels. Just record your key insights, as you were thinking of doing, and read back over them. You'll see that you *are* being guided. *big hug*