Sex addiction has long been received with a great deal of skepticism. Is it real? With high profile stories such as Tiger Woods, David Duchovny, and many others keeping sexual addiction in the headlines, psychiatrists have been trying to better understand what is behind this behavior. Last week UCLA researchers decided to get to the bottom of just that. Is sex addiction a legitimate condition? What they found is that sex addiction, now technically referred to as hypersexual disorder, is indeed real and they are already establishing a method of diagnosis.
What is Hypersexual Disorder?
Despite an initial reluctance to accept sex addiction as a disorder, psychiatrists have come to define what constitutes sex dependency. A team of doctors, marriage and family counselors, and lead research psychologist Rory Reid joined forces to test whether “hypersexual disorder” was in fact a mental health condition. They found that in order to be a true sex addict, an individual must experience repeated sexual fantasies, exhibit actions, and persistent urges that last up to six months, and are not a result of medication, an underlying medical condition, substance abuse, or bipolar mania.
Additionally, the individual must display a pattern of using sexual activity to deal with mental issues such as depression or stress. A sex addict must also have attempted to reduce their sexual activities upon recognition of the problem. Sex addiction can also be referred to as: sexual dependency, compulsive sexual behavior, satyriasis (males), nymphomania (females), sexual compulsivity, and hypersexuality.
How did they reach this conclusion?
The research team analyzed 207 patients seeking help for uncontrollable sexual behavior, substance abuse, or any other mental health condition, from several mental health clinics around the country. After a series of psychological testing and interviews, the researchers found that their proposed criteria for hypersexual disorder accurately classified 88 percent of hypersexual patients as having the disorder. The criteria were also accurate in detecting negative results 93 percent of the time. In other words, the criteria appear to be accurate at distinguishing between patients who are actually hypersexual and those who aren’t – those with anxiety, depression, or substance abuse.