Challenging the Concept of Sex Addiction

If you're skeptical about the ease with which addiction diagnoses are handed out these days, this study may be up your alley:

This article takes a critical look at the recent history of the concept of sex addiction, an archetypal modern sexual invention. Sex addiction began as a 1980s product of late twentieth-century cultural anxieties and has remained responsive to those tensions, including its most recent iteration, "hypersexual disorder." Its success as a concept lay with its medicalization, both as a self-help movement in terms of self-diagnosis, and as a rapidly growing industry of therapists on hand to deal with the new disease. The media has always played a role in its history, first with TV, the tabloids, and the case histories of claimed celebrity victims all helping to popularize the concept, and then with the impact of the internet. Though it is essentially mythical, creating a problem that need not exist, sex addiction has to be taken seriously as a phenomenon. Rarely has a socio-psychological discourse taken such a hold on the public imagination—and proven an influential concept in academic circles too. We argue that this strange, short history of social opportunism, diagnostic amorphism, therapeutic self-interest, and popular cultural endorsement is marked by an essential social conservatism—sex addiction has become a convenient term to describe disapproved sex. Sex addiction is a label without explanatory force.

That's the historians Barry Reay, Nina Attwood, and Claire Gooder writing in the journal Sexuality & Culture. I'd like to do more than quote the abstract, but the rest of the paper is paywalled; I have not, as of yet, acquired a copy, let alone formed an opinion of all its arguments. But Tracy Clark-Flory has read it, and she has posted some more details at Salon.

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  • Entropy Void||


  • Mickey Rat||

    You are going to the special hell for this. The one that takes child molesters and people who talk in the theater.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Sex addict = all men

  • DWC||

    I think South Park pretty much nailed it. "Sex addiction" pretty much typifies the horseshit idiocy that pervades society.

  • ||

    Does your mom have big tits?

  • juris imprudent||

    I am addicted to David Duchovny, does that count, sort of?

  • SIV||

    If you're skeptical about the ease with which addiction diagnoses are handed out these days, this study may be up your alley:

    Considering I'm more than just skeptical about how easily addiction diagnoses are handed out for opioid analgesics you can bet I have a slight tinge of a doubt about shopping and sex addictions.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Well, the original definition of addiction was purely physiological -- basically, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the stimulus is absent for long periods of time.

    Now various political and social puritans have expanded the meaning to include the enjoyment of something more than said puritans think it should be enjoyed.

    There is a useful middle ground here. I would think that if a person sees something seriously wrong in their own life, and that thing clearly happens because of something they habitually do, but they refuse to give up that habitual activity, it would be a good idea to have a word for this phenomenon. Addiction would do nicely, no?

  • BuSab Agent||

    No not at all,the word addiction carries all sorts of baggage that hides and muddies the problem because it still carries the physiological notion. I much prefer Peter McWilliam's description as having a bad relationship with (insert problematic behavior).

  • 34lbs||

    Stupid cosmotarian liberal propoganda, sex butts orgasms, that's all its about is it?


  • Mickey Rat||

    " addiction has become a convenient term to describe disapproved sex."

    It generally comes off as a way for libertines to excuse their poor impulse control, particularly when the libertine is married.

  • Almanian.||

    I could get pretty "a-DICK-ted" to Rosanna Arquette and Nastassia Kinski, if you know what I'm saying.

  • Harvard||

    Kinski's got the face of a Lhasa Apso and absolutely no tits whatsoever.
    She should build a shrine to the talent of Richard Avedon and bow to it daily.

  • Robert||

    sex addiction has become a convenient term to describe disapproved sex. Sex addiction is a label without explanatory force.

    I think that's true of addiction generally.

    I'm working with old equipment here and a 56k modem, and it's been frustrating trying to read Hit & Run, but today I discovered a little hack that allows me to read without annoying hangs & crashes: I just download & save it, go off line, then delete all the head material before reading it. If I leave the material between the head tags in place, MSIE 6 tries seemingly forever to execute some commands which assume net access (preferably FAST net access, it seems).


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