Dr. Doug Weiss is a sex addiction therapist and has appeared on Oprah and Good Morning America television shows. His site, sexaddict.org, sells books, dvds, telephone counseling and appointments for 3-day intensive counseling sessions. His site also includes religious books and Web sites.
Weiss wrote that the sex addicted person uses sex to “medicate” his or her feelings of stress and cannot stop his or her behavior.
Sex addiction is caused by “biological, psychological, and spiritual reasons,” according to Weiss. The biological reason is addiction to one’s own brain hormones, while the psychological reason is using sex to escape prior abuse. As for spiritual reasons, Weiss wrote:
“Spiritually, a person is filling up the God hole in them with their sexual addiction. The addiction is their spirituality: it comforts them, celebrates them and is always available and present.”
The difference between a sex addiction and a person with a high sex drive, Weiss wrote, is that the person with a high sex drive is satisfied with his or her sex life. According to Weiss, pornography with regular masturbation is the “cornerstone” of sexual addiction that creates an “unreal world” to which the addict becomes conditioned.
Weiss suggests that you may need counseling if your spouse shows signs of sex addiction. Such signs include: unaccountable time, money or moods; a lack of marital sexual activity; abusive or negligent behavior; arguments over sex; or an angry reaction after being turned down for sex. Other signs, according to Weiss, also include the spouse of the potential addict feeling "used, dirty or abandoned" after sex, and the potential addict owning a supply of pornography ("especially the kind you get at adult bookstores.")
Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D., in her article “Sex Addiction?” on the Good Vibrations Web site, wrote that the concept of sex addiction makes a disease out of normal behavior. She describes herself as a “sex-positive activist” and has appeared in pornographic movies and adult magazines.
Sprinkle questioned the validity of sexual screening tests and argued that they are based on faulty, negative assumptions about sex. She criticized Patrick Carnes’ Sexual Addiction Screening Test, in particular. For instance, many people view sexually explicit material without any negative effects, and being preoccupied with sex is common. She also criticized the question about illegal sex because some laws, such as those banning oral or anal sex, should be overturned.
According to Sprinkle, using sex to escape the occasional problem is normal and healthy. Since we are biologically programmed to have sex, she wrote, very strong sexual desire is “appropriate and beneficial.”
Sex addiction can be used to put down socially disapproved behavior, Sprinkle wrote. Within this way of thinking, sex becomes a scapegoat for other problems such as loneliness, frustration, poor judgement or destructive behavior. It’s also a way for people to make money; sex addiction therapy is a multi-million dollar industry.
Sprinkle also argues that the only difference between a “sex addict” and someone with a varied and active sex life is the feeling of shame. What feels shameful for one person can be a “non-issue” for another.
Sprinkle acknowledges that there are millions of people who feel conflicted about sex and who may be drawn to destructive sexual behaviors. But the concept of “sex addiction” may make matters worse. It takes responsibility off the individual and blames destructive behavior on an ill-defined “disease.”