Is Sex Addiction Real?

Sex addiction may seem like an illness to the men and women who engage in hypersexual behavior and the people in their lives victimized by it. But the psychiatric community remains divided on the subject of whether it’s officially “sick.”

Although it has ruined relationships, toppled the careers of politicians and celebrities and even been blamed for its so-called sufferers’ economic ruin, a team of researchers at UCLA have found little evidence there’s any difference in the brain activity of people identified as hypersexual.

For this research the study subjects — adults over 18 who identified themselves as being troubled by sexual compulsion — were shown a series of erotic and non-erotic images and their brain waves were then studied using EEG. The researchers found little difference in their brain waves after seeing sexual images, including those of male-female intercourse, than they did looking at more benignly pleasant images. Other research has shown a difference in the brain activity of other types of addicts and those suffering from certain compulsive disorders.

But the debate on whether sex addiction is an illness is by no means over. Interestingly, a rival 2012 UCLA study (by a different researcher) supported the inclusion of sexual addiction in the DSM-5, considered the bible of psychiatric disorders by clinicians throughout the world.