Does Sex Addiction Exist?

Lynne Schultz

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About this picture
classic painting called The Church at Gloucester by
Childe Hassam

Addictions to drugs and alcohol have caused great harm to society, and this has raised the question of whether other compulsive behavior conforms to the addiction model. Some workers in the field of alcohol and drug addiction have expanded the definition of "addiction" to include behaviors that do not involve the ingestion of mind altering chemicals. Programs and groups based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have formed for such maladies as gambling addiction, food addiction, Internet addiction and even sex addiction.

Dr. Patrick Carnes,

Dr. Patrick Carnes, of and author and clinical director of sexual disorders services at The Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona, wrote that sex addiction can lead to divorce, job loss, financial disaster and risk to one’s life. “Even the healthiest forms of human sexual expression can turn into self-defeating behaviors,” the Web site said. Sex addiction affects 3 to 6 percent of the population, according to

Carnes popularized the concept of sex addiction in his 1989 book "Contrary to Love." His program is based on the 12 Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous. According to the program, sex addicts first have to admit there is a problem. Then they begin a “one-day-at-a-time” lifelong recovery. Sex addiction is never cured. Partners of sex addicts are co-dependent and need counseling as well.

Sexual Anorexia?

Unlike the alcoholic, a sex addict does not have to abstain from sex but can be led back to healthy sexual behavior just as a food addict can be led back to healthy eating. said other people suffer from Sexual Anorexia, a condition in which a person feels sexually deprived but dreads sexual pleasure.

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