The Myth of Sex Addiction.

Author:Hall, David S.
Position:Book review

The Myth of Sex Addiction

David J. Ley, Ph.D.

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2012

216 pages of text plus endnotes, bibliography and index, $30.89


I cannot stress enough how important this book is, not just to the helping professions but to the general public who get to read and hear (incessantly) about someone famous who is called a "sex addict". Think Jessie James, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, etc. The topic of sex addiction has been with us since the 1980's, at least. Yet, as this book shows, there is no empirical scientific evidence that would confirm the existence of such an addiction. However, there was a very hard push to make this a diagnosable disease in the upcoming revision #5 of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association). Sex addiction did not make the grade, instead Hypersexual Disorder was proposed.

"In the "Rationale" section of the DSM5 workgroup's discussion of hypersexual disorder, it is explained that there is a clinical need for this diagnosis because there is a "demand" from consumers and providers of services to recognize and diagnose the groups of people who are seeking and receiving treatment for "out-of-control" sexual behaviors. So, in other words, like the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams, "because they came, we built it." It's a disturbing argument that because there is a group of people saying they have a problem, and because there is an industry and a group of people treating that problem, we should therefore create a diagnosis around it. As others have pointed out, just because there are many people who believe in alien abduction, we have not proposed creating a specific disorder for this condition." p.27

"In the DSM5 workgroup's justification for hypersexual disorder, published in 2010, it is stated that "significant gaps in basic knowledge remain." p.28

Dr. Ley states "The reason why clear medical terminology cannot be created in over thirty years of effort is because this is not a medical issue but a moral and social one." I believe it reflects our sex-negative environment where sex education is politically unacceptable and belief trumps reason when data on the high rates of sexual activity are noted. The whole idea is that sex is different, sex without a relationship is wrong, sex for pleasure is dangerous. This book explores the morality behind making a disease out of sexual behavior. It notes the comparison with the diagnosis of...

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