Sex addiction! It's so hot right now! As we've mentioned before, this little-understood malady has gotten oodles of press since David Duchovny checked into rehab to treat his sex addiction while, in a life-imitates-art twist, the show in which he plays a sex addict, Californication, entered its second season. Now that a movie starring a sex addicted character (Choke, based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk) premieres on Friday, journalistic roundups of sex addiction and its discontents have reached a fever pitch. Most of the articles discuss the psychiatric controversy over the term.Slate's Dan Engber discusses the history of sex-as-addiction in the medical community, noting, "the 1973 discovery of opiate receptors in the brain made it clear that our normal pleasure response is something like a scaled-down version of a drug high… If activities like eating and sex could activate the same pleasure centers as heroin, morphine, and cocaine, it was a small step to assume that repeated behavior might generate its own dependency." But Engber adds that shrinks are still arguing over the meaning of addiction in general. "Some argue that the euphemistic use of dependence has done little to eliminate the stigma associated with the condition," he writes. "Others see the medicalization of behavior—sexual or otherwise—as a form of social control." Today's Wall Street Journal lists some of the criteria of sex addiction. Executive director of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health Robin Cato tells the Journal: "You need to ask yourself: Is this a secret? Are you spending money on it you don't have? How does it affect your job or your marriage? What would happen if you were caught?" The Journal adds that sex addicts are frequently narcissists, and whether or not you believe sex addiction exists, it probably doesn't hurt for people who think about no one but themselves to go through a treatment that makes them realize other people are affected by their actions. Sex Dramedy [Slate] Is Sex Addiction A Sickness, Or Excuse To Behave Badly? [WSJ] Earlier: Not Quite Enough Sympathy To Go Around For The Sex Addict Maybe So-Called Sex Addicts Should Enroll In 12-Step Programs
The question is also at what point does something become an addiction? Especially, I would think as someone with an imaginary degree in arm chair psychology, with something like sex, which has a boat load of baggage in our society. Is it a problem that you like it because deep down you have internalized Puritanical ideas that it is dirty and bad? Or is it really just all you can think about and has had a negative effect on your relationships, career, etc? Or are you just a jerk? So complicated.
I guess my point is that I'm interested in the "behavior control" aspect — are we making this into a huge problem in an attempt to control this aspect of people's lives? (I don't mean us personally — that's a society "we").
Also, does anybody else find that movie poster disturbing?