Is Being a Sex Addict a Real Mental Illness or Not?
For years people of all types and backgrounds have argued that what addiction really is. Is addiction a mental illness or all about willpower? While research has shown addiction is a mental disorder, some people are having a hard time considering a sex addict as someone with an addiction. Even people suffering from a substance abuse addiction sometimes have a hard time with excepting a sex addict has a form of addiction.
Erica Garza, who claims she started having orgasms at the age of 12, wants to break the stigma and shame of being a sex addict. She claims she was horribly shameful of her sexual tendencies, because she grew up in a Catholic home and went to a Catholic school and didn’t hear other girls talking about what she was experiencing or how she was feeling. This caused Erica to feel different and ashamed about everything she was going through, including masturbating, which she admitted that she used masturbation as an escape from her emotions.
Escaping from your emotions, isn’t this what all addicts do? Erica states, “I can listen to someone talk about their sex addiction, their alcohol addiction, or their drug addiction and, while the ‘drug of choice’ is different for each, so much else.” She continues, “The underlying emotions of shame and isolation are similar. It all comes back to escape.” While Erica has made some very valid points, others have made valid points against her theory.
David Ley, a clinical psychologist in Albuquerque, who also wrote the book “The Myth of Sex Addiction” takes the opposite side to Erica’s stance. He claims that with a sex addict there is no evidence surrounding the addiction or that it can even be cured or treated. Ley states, “No one in the history of the world has ever died or got sick when they didn’t get to have sex.” Ley goes on to explain his theory by stating, “People with high libido, internalized conflicts over sex, relationship conflicts over sex, LGBTQ orientations, and coping skills that use sex for stress management, are often labeled as sex addicts.”
While Ley makes a valid point that no one has ever died from not having sex, shouldn’t we look at this in another way? People who are labeled with the term sex addict, are labeled that for a reason. These are people that are engaging in risky sexual activities that could lead to harm or people that shut the world out and watch porn and masturbate, instead of engaging in everyday life. There is clearly an issue at hand. Without a doubt this topic needs further research and studies completed, but in the meantime, shouldn’t we be trying to help someone who claims to be a sex addict, instead of telling them there is no such thing as a sex addict? These people have worked up the courage to admit that they need help. Shouldn’t we do our best to help them? There could be underlying issues that coincide with their sex addiction.