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Sexual Addiction: Causes and Treatment

  • Published:
    21 August 2023
  • Updated:
    01 May 2024
Sexual Addiction: Causes and Treatment

Sexual addiction, also known as sexaholism, is a social construct that does not have analogs in the list of mental disorders. Psychiatry does not have data that sexual activities like substances that cause addiction can affect the brain.

Neurobiological research shows that people who lead sexually liberated lifestyles are more sensitive to genital stimulation. Still, addiction should have the opposite effect - the body becomes accustomed and tolerant to the stimulus.

Signs of Sexaholism

However, the problem of controlling sexual impulses is real, and the international classification of diseases includes a diagnosis of "compulsive sexual behavior disorder." Sexual activity often serves as a distraction, an escape from reality with its crises, offenses, losses, and fears. In this case, a person experiences constant, intense, intrusive sexual thoughts, fantasies, and feelings and engages in various forms of sexual behavior.

The internal urge to engage in sexualized actions arises to avoid unpleasant sensations. In addition to initial satisfaction, a temporary increase in self-esteem, emotional release, tension relief, sense of security, and acceptance can be obtained. Gradually, sexual impulses become so strong that a person loses control, and sexual activity no longer brings the expected pleasure. Such a condition may be transient, for example, during sexual development, but those who "get stuck" in this period require help.

Treatment for Sexual Addiction

There is no "normal" number of sexual partners, frequency of change, or other quantitative indicators of sexual life that would help diagnose the problem. The indication for seeking help from a specialist (sexologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist) is a situation where the consequences of a person's sexual life harm their mental health (reduced self-esteem, feelings of guilt, self-harm, difficulties in maintaining emotional intimacy) or physical health, and cause suffering to those around them.

The basis becomes psychotherapeutic work, and depending on the doctor's discretion and the client's condition, medication correction may be included to stabilize the emotional background, improve sleep, and create a favorable environment for psychotherapy.

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