Sex Addiction is a term more loosely used in the media in recent years. Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, David Duchovny, Charlie Sheen and Russell Brand.
There are women too; the press has not been limited to men.
Like many definitions of mental health, Sex Addiction has two camps. Those who believe and those who do not believe in the “addiction” model as it applies to excessive or problematic sexual behavior.
Addiction by definition has two components: 1. The need for increasing amounts of the substance in order to achieve the same effect (however one defines effect) and 2. withdrawal in the presence of substance abstinence. Many of the articles I have read have not addressed these two aspects. They speak of negative sexual behaviors with negative consequences.
In the height of the addiction movement Patrick Carnes popularized “sex addiction” in his work “Out of the Shadows”, which by the way, while making many relevant and applicable points has no empirical basis. He defines sex addiction as “any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones and one’s work environment.” A very open ended definition at best and one in which, if applied improperly can have devastating impact on an individual’s self definition and on a couple’s relationship. If applied properly, the addiction model can be useful.
If you think you might be a sex addict or have ever heard that term define you take this test: http://www.recoveryzone.com/tests/sex-addiction/SAST/index.php. A tentative measure at best, the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST) might find many false positives as many sexually healthy people might score high on this assessment measure. If anything it will help you consider aspects of your sexuality that might be causing problems for you and your relationships.
Marty Klein, marriage and family therapist and media expert. argues against the use of the term ‘sex addict’ referencing “it’s someone who is unhappy with the consequences of their sexual choices, but who finds it too emotionally painful to make different choices.” Provoking and thoughtful, it can be found here; http://thehumanist.org/july-august-2012/you’re-addicted-to-what/.
I take no stance. There are instances, a low percentage, of people who truly suffer from an addiction or sexual compulsivity. There are many more instances where our sexual decisions have had a negative impact on our lives. In either case I utilized multiple modalities of classical psychotherapy with some sex therapy. In all cases the development of our erotic moments, rooted in childhood and adolescence, are connected to later decisions and it is through the work on these that healing is achieved.
I cannot claim to diagnose anyone who I never met nor can I comment on these highly publicized celebrities. One never knows what is really goes on the bedrooms of others unless they let you in and much of what is touted may be inaccurate. Nevertheless it seems to me that Tiger’s biggest challenge may be living up to his name . . .Tiger.