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Is 'Sex Addiction' Real? Some Experts Say So
Date:10/26/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In recent years, media reports of celebrities -- usually men -- citing "sex addiction" as the reason they've been unfaithful have made headlines.

But is what's known to psychologists as "hypersexual disorder" a real pathology or just a lame excuse for bad behavior?

The issue is a real one, since there's been talk of including hypersexual disorder in the upcoming revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), considered the "bible" for psychologists and psychiatrists.

Now, a team of experts has formulated criteria that could help therapists correctly identify the disorder, with an eye to treatment.

To test the criteria, the researchers interviewed and conducted psychological testing on 207 patients treated at several U.S. mental health clinics. All of the participants were seeking help for out-of-control sexual behavior, a substance abuse disorder or another psychiatric condition such as depression or anxiety.

Applying their proposed criteria to the data they gathered from the participants, the researchers said the criteria accurately spotted 93 percent of people with hypersexual disorder.

According to one of the researchers, the critical issue is whether the out-of-control sexual behavior is interfering with a person's life and they feel powerless to change it.

"It's about having sex that's causing problems, out of control, risking infection," said guidelines co-author Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. "It's usually the consequences [of the hypersexual behavior] that bring people through the door."

Reid added that he believes the lay term "sex addiction" is a misnomer. "I wouldn't call it sex addiction because we're lacking information about whether it is indeed a compulsion," he explained.

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