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Is sex addiction a myth?

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According to a new book sex addiction is not only a myth, it’s also having a negative effect on men’s sexuality.

David Ley is a clinical psychologist based in New Mexico. He writes in “The Myth of Sex Addiction” that the science supporting sexual addiction is essentially junk, based on small, self-selected samples. He also posits that every single sex addict who has sought treatment suffers from some other disorder at the same time, leading him to believe that unsafe or excessive sexual behavior is a symptom of a larger problem that goes untreated when the focus is on the sex instead of the corresponding personality disorder.

Ley insists that this hyper focus on men’s sexuality, perpetuated by the media, actually has a deleterious effect on men. When they’re not expected to take control of their own sexuality, and let off the hook when it comes to their inappropriate choices, it turns their sexuality into something that should be feared instead of enjoyed.

Dr. Ley’s ideas on sexual addiction are not without controversy. People who deal with treating these disorders say sexual addicts get the same highs from pursuing sex as drug addicts get from drugs. They say it’s a behavioral addiction much like gambling or food and should be treated as such.

Is sexual addiction real? Or is it a media-inflated moneymaking scheme for therapists? How does the concept of sex addiction affect men’s sexuality? And if women can suffer from the same disorder, does it affect them in the same way? Also, does treating sexual addiction mean other more important issues get ignored?


David Ley, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction” (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2012)

Robert Weiss, founding director, Sexual Recovery Institute based in Los Angeles