I just finished and article published in the Telegraph by Dr David Ley titled “Why there’s no such thing as sex addiction”. I must disagree with his article, since I believe that sex addiction exists.
The main points he makes to back up this statement are.
- It isn’t an illness, it’s a weakness – there is no evidence sex addiction is a valid psychiatric disorder. It hasn’t been recognized as a bona fide disease by the mental health profession
- Sex addiction is wrongly applied the same characteristics of drug and alcohol addiction. He doesn’t believe there are any ill effects on the body, nor withdrawal symptoms.
- He doesn’t believe that men can get lost to the powers of internet porn. He says that there is no evidence of harm it does or we would be awash in sex crimes and public sexual displays. Since addicts can function at a high level there is no evidence of addiction. Phil Varone of Skid Row never considered himself an addict to sex because he functioned so highly and it didn’t mess up his life.
- Sex addiction is a product of social and religious institutions that portray sexual desire as something destructive and weakening and men must rein it in. These institutions have labeled sex as evil. Sex is healthy and good for you; more sex equals healthier, happier people.
- People use the label of sex addiction to shirk responsibility for their actions. The real reason is the bad choices they make.
Let’s deal with his statements one by one; you may be surprised at my point of view.
Dr Ley says that sex addiction isn’t an illness, it’s a weakness. First off, I think it is funny that he keeps labeling this as sex addiction while stating there is no such thing. He should come up with another term to label this weakness so that we won’t get his point of view confused. On this point I have to agree with him. Shocking as it may be I don’t think sex addiction is a disease. Just like I don’t believe that drug and alcohol abuse are diseases. In my very un-clinical mind a disease is an illness that you contract by either contact with another person or genetically. You cannot catch alcoholism, drug abuse or sex addiction. You are not born into them, nor do you have symptoms of them without bringing it on yourself. I’m not sure where the disease label originated from, but I disagree with it. You can have the tendency to like alcohol or pornography and drugs, but diving into these doesn’t happen without you first giving into the temptation after making some poor decisions. We are not robotic in this sense.
Next he goes on to say that sex addiction is wrongly applied the same characteristics as drug and alcohol abuse, mainly because there are no ill effects on the body or withdrawal symptoms. On this statement I have to disagree. Too much sex or pornography does indeed have ill effects on the body. I won’t give you all the details, but you can read my account on how pornography made me sick. It wasn’t until I gave up porn that I began to recover from the mysterious illness that plagued me. I’m not certain, but I believe it had something to do with the adrenal system. How can he say for certain that too much sex is not bad for the body? At what level is it considered too much?
To say there are no withdrawal symptoms with sex addiction is another unfounded statement. There were many times that I decided to quit pornography and went through withdrawal. It consumed me to the point I could not function. There was no concentration or rest. The urges would only go away after I would indulge in porn. Don’t just take my word for it, read the testimonies of other sex/porn addicts. Read Kastleman’s book on the brain science behind internet pornography use.
Dr Ley does not believe that men can get lost in the power of porn. The quote by Skid Row’s drummer backs up his statement. Do all addicts lose their functionality and mess up their lives…of course not. Some are able to lead (on the outside) normal functioning lives. They are able to compartmentalize their addiction from the rest of their lives. Others are not so lucky and lose everything. Dr Ley fails to realize the internal harm that wreaks havoc on the addict. The guilt, shame and feelings of worthlessness as a result of the addiction may not always appear on the outside. The truth is that porn is like the siren calling to you day and night to come in and visit her. There is a pull that appeals to our sexual natures, our need for escape and the physical feeling of euphoria. The call is there around every corner for the addict.
He also feels sex has been given a bad rap by social and religious organizations that have deemed sex to be destructive, weakening and evil. These stigmas on sex then make those who have active sex drives to think something is wrong with them and they are addicts. Lots of sex is good for you. In this statement I think he has twisted the view by social and religious organizations. Free sex and promiscuity are deemed destructive, sex without a boundary is destructive, not sex itself. Sex within the boundary of a marriage is responsible and healthy. Lots of sex within a marriage is very healthy.
The last point he makes seems to be the crux of his whole article. Dr Ley feels that sex addicts use the label to escape responsibility for their actions when it is their choices that have gotten them into trouble. I say right on! People like to blame someone or something for their bad behavior. Blaming sexual addiction and then checking into rehab somehow makes everyone feel OK about it, like it’s not their fault. I say it is their fault and they are addicted.
I don’t believe being addicted to sex or porn and it being your own fault are exclusive of each other. You are an addict and it is your fault! This takes us back to the point where sex addiction is labeled as a disease. A disease label seems to absolve the afflicted from responsibility. I think this is the whole hang-up Dr Ley has with using the label Sex Addiction. He firmly believes (as I do) that the person makes bad decisions and is fully responsible for their own actions. They are not victims to a disease. They are just people who succumb to a weakness or temptation that has taken them farther than they imagined they would go.
What do you think? Please leave your comments below.
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