What makes a person a sex addict? Is it thinking about sex too much or having it too much? And how much is too much? Guys are said to think about sex every seven seconds or around 7,200 times a day. If that's true, are they all sex addicts then?
Apparently sex addiction isn't about sex, according to Dr. Rory Reid, a research psychologist at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. "That's a common misconception. It is no more about sex than an eating disorder is about food." That means craving sex or being horny nearly 24/7 isn't enough to get you the term "sex addict." You need some things in the mix like anxiety, stress, and depression that all drive you to destructive sexual behavior.
As in the case for legit shopping addicts who spend way over their budget and put themselves at risk of financial trouble, it's the same with sex addicts. They spend a huge chunk of their income (like half of it) on prostitutes. Not being able to recognize boundaries can go as far as (but not limited to) having affairs when one's already married, viewing porn while working, masturbating in public, and molesting someone else. Engaging in these things will damage your social, professional, and personal life. And then there's increasing your risk of getting an STD.
What makes a person addicted to sex is unknown. For shopaholics, shopping validates themselves, hence making them feel good momentarily. According to Helga Dittmar, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sussex in the U.K., shopaholics "buy those consumer goods that symbolize a part of their ideal self: 'If I buy a glamorous dress, I might feel like a glamorous person.'" It's different for sex addicts. Addiction counselor John O'Neill says that a sex addict indulging himself ends up feeling lonely and isolated. "There's such intense shame and pain." And he deals with those emotions by having more sex.
Psychologists suppose that behaviors of sex addicts are tied to abnormal levels of dopamine or serotonin in the brain (which give the person a heightened intoxicated feeling during sex), or attention or impulse problems. It's also been found that people who were sexually abused are at a higher risk of developing sex addiction.
If you know anyone who seems like a sex addict, seek medical help first. Medical professionals need to make a sex addiction diagnosis, since a person could be experiencing other conditions like dementia and Huntington's disease that may have hypersexual symptoms. If he's diagnosed with sex addiction, encourage support groups and therapy or counseling.
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