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The 'Reality' of Sex Addiction Stirs Debate
Date:5/12/2010

Mental health experts disagree whether behavior describes a true addict

WEDNESDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Compulsive sexual behavior can be a real problem in some people, causing them to engage in risky and self-destructive acts revolving around their libido, experts say.

The career of professional golfer Tiger Woods took a beating from revelations of cheating with as many as a dozen women. Former New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips was fired from his job as a baseball analyst on the ESPN network after a workplace sex scandal.

But are they, and others like them, suffering from an actual addiction?

Both Woods and Phillips have claimed they are, and both men sought treatment at sexual addiction programs.

Mental health professionals agree that some people indulge in uncontrollable and harmful sexual behavior and that they truly cannot help themselves.

They disagree, however, about whether this behavior constitutes a true addiction or is better characterized as some other sort of mental disorder.

The new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the book considered the bible of psychiatry, will contain a new category of behavioral addictions -- but sexual addiction will not be included in that category.

"There's not enough empirical evidence to call sex an addiction at this point," said Dr. Martin P. Kafka, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a member of the task force that's revising the manual.

Therapists active in sexual addiction disagree.

"We've been treating sexual addiction for more than 20 years now," said Douglas Weiss, a psychologist and executive director of the Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Weiss noted that the psychiatric field sometimes has had to play catch-up with the facts. Homosexuality, for instance, was included as
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