Friday, October 02, 2015

Is "Sex Addiction" a Myth?

It seems that so many times when a right wing, "family values" Republican or a member of the professional Christian crowd gets caught in a sex scandal, they immediately claim to suffer from "sex addiction" and run off to some loony "Christian" ministry to get "cured."  Nasty pig Josh Duggar is but one recent example.  But does "sex addiction" really exist?  A piece in Salon noted that it is NOT in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Yet the godly folk and their political whores in the GOP seem to use it constantly as an excuse for their bad behavior. Too me, the real truth may be that those who use the excuse are merely masking their rebellion from sexually obsessed conservative religious dogma and constantly repressed sexual urges that find little outlet except via porn or adulterous affairs (or molestation of altar boys if one is a Catholic priest).  Here are highlights from the piece:
Porn addiction does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. And yet the label seems to pop up everywhere. There are counselors who warn against the addictive nature of pornography. Anti-porn advocates have been quick to blame the industry for the degradation of human relationships. And others have begun advertising treatment plans to remedy the “disorder.”

There are individuals who lose hours — even days — to pornography. There are also a number of individuals who have spent all their money on porn products and escorts. That’s a real problem. Compulsive behavior patterns are a real problem. And those consumed by them need professional help.

What’s curious, however, is that these individuals don’t seem to make up the majority of self-identifying “porn addicts” out there.

Joshua Grubbs of Case Western has been examining the concept of porn addiction for the past five years. He told AlterNet, “I noticed that people, particularly religious people, were really quick to use the addiction label. They were really fast to say, ‘I’m an addict, I’m an addict, I’m addicted to this. I can’t control myself.’ And I started to think, ‘Well, something’s not adding up.’”

He added, “You know how hard it is to convince [an addict] that they have a problem? They don’t just come out and say, ‘Oh, I’m an addict.’ They don’t do that until they’re in recovery.”

So when are these labels most likely to come up? And by whom are they assigned? Some experts suggest that the concepts of “porn addiction” and “sex addiction” are used to explain away behaviors condemned by socially (and sexually) conservative societies. Think about celebrities like David Duchovny and Tiger Woods, and what led them to come forward with their “addictions.” Dr. Mark Griffith writes, “It becomes a problem only when you’re discovered.”

Grubbs suggests most self-identifying “porn addicts” simply don’t meet a clinical criteria.
In January 2015, he published research finding that religiosity tended to be more closely related to porn addiction than porn consumption itself.

“Porn addiction, sex addiction are so closely related to religious and moral beliefs about sexuality,” Grubbs says. “If you’re coming from a religious tradition that says that indulging sexual desires outside the confines of heterosexual committed marriage is wrong, any sexual impulse that you have that doesn’t fit that prescribed criteria is going to produce guilt and distress.

“Conceptually, it would make sense that it’s easier to say ‘I’m an addict’ than to say that what I believe about sex is maybe not the healthiest belief.”

[W]e went to Amazon to check out its selection of books on “porn addiction.” No fewer than 404 results popped up in the Religion & Spirituality category. Less than half that number appeared in the Psychology & Counseling section.

Grubbs and his team found that the “psychological distress” caused by porn addiction relates to the label itself, not the material it refers to. According to his research, identifying as a porn addict was likely to bring on feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and distress. Porn use itself had no “reliable relationship” to these symptoms.

Clinical psychologist David Ley, author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction,” told AlterNet in an email, “Decades of research shows that sex and porn are not addictive. Instead, the notion of porn addiction reflects people’s moral and social fears of sex.”

Grubbs says, “Ideally what we’re doing now will help people change their approach to treatment. Just because someone identifies as a porn addict doesn’t necessarily mean you need to treat them like an addict. You need to treat them like someone who is experiencing a lot of self-stigma.” 
I continue to view deep ultra conservative religiosity as a form of mental illness. Claims of "sex addiction" might be better described as symptoms of "post-traumatic church syndrome" since the real root cause of the guilt and anxiety is insane religious brainwashing.

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