The male sex addict
Sexual addiction in males
The term sex addict has been used in recent years but is not recognised by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) which produces the DSM classifications of psychiatric disorders. These classifications are generally used around the world in most psychiatric departments. The APA sees sexual addiction as a symptom of an underlying problem rather than a disease in itself.
Having said this, more and more men seem to feel that they are addicted to sex whether in their uncontrollable need for sexual activity or craving of pornography and Internet sex. It is therefore important to explore the whole issue of sexual addiction and to search for ways of solving what can be a very destructive problem.
A sex addict is defined as a man (or woman) whose sexual behaviour is harmful to his or her intimate relationships, self-esteem, finances or career. Sexual behaviour may become the major way in which people cope with their stresses and problems in their lives. Issues such as inner conflicts, poor self-esteem, the need to improve, fear of being homosexual and sexual abuse may be the behaviours that are being masked by this.
A pattern of behaviour develops which the "addict" may not be able to stop for any length of time. This may consist of acting out and a denial of feelings often leading to despair, feelings of shame and hopelessness. The behaviour may become compulsive and the addict often feels powerless over this behaviour. Pornography and masturbation is usually the way in which most addicts find satisfaction. The Internet is fast becoming a great problem for many couples because of the easy availability of pornographic material, the chat rooms and cyber sex. Some addicts initiate sexual intercourse anywhere and any time they find a willing partner, often causing profound damage to their lives.
What then is the difference between a high sex drive and addiction? Simply put, addiction uses sex as a fix for something and has little to do with the sex drive of the individual. Many believe that using the word "addiction" for compulsive sexual behaviour avoids responsibility or blame on the part of the addict by calling this behaviour a disease. The word "addict" may also prevent personal change because it proclaims powerlessness over the behaviour rather than an understanding of why it is used and to choose either to stop the behaviour or not.
The partner of the sex addict often feels angry and alone when the addictive behaviour is discovered. There is sometimes a feeling of guilt as though the addictive behaviour is caused by some fault in her (and sometimes him). This is understandable, but the first thing the partner must realise is that the problem is with the addict and not as a result of a shortcoming in the spouse. There are new medications that sometimes help to cut down the compulsive preoccupations and desires. Counselling, individual or together, can help to root out the underlying problem and reduce dependency on compulsive sexual behaviour. As with all problems, communication is essential and can help break the pattern that is so destructive.