The label of “sex addiction” is a big, lucrative business. For the past year, I’ve been working on a new book, The Myth of Sex Addiction, and one of the things I found extremely disturbing was just how much this field is driven by profit motives.
The finances that lie behind the concept of sex addiction are a significant concern. Treatment for sex addiction is not cheap. A month’s treatment at some residential sex addiction treatment programs can cost over $37,000. Sex addiction is big business.
All the celebrity attention to sex addiction has driven many more people into the offices of sex addiction therapists nationwide.
Alexandra Katehakis, a sex addiction therapist with a practice in California, says that “celebrities have been the greatest evangelists for treatment. My practice wouldn’t exist without them.”
It’s not just therapeutic business now. Sex addiction treatment is business in the entertainment industry as well.
The Logo Channel has a reality show called Sex Rx, focusing on the therapy needs of a group of LGBT clients treated by Christopher Donaghue, a self-proclaimed specialist in sex addiction treatment.
The VH1 channel previously had Sex Rehab, with celebrity physician Dr. Drew, which delved into the sexual issues of celebrities and focused on sexual addiction.
According to the Sex Rehab show’s website, 6 percent of the American population is afflicted with sex addiction, though no reference is given to shed light on this number.
According to the show’s description, “nobody is immune to” sex addiction. In an amusing irony, the sponsored advertisement links on the show’s website are all for methods to either delay the male orgasm or treat erectile dysfunction.
It sends an odd message: “Sex is dangerous and scary, you need to watch out and control it! And by the way, if you can’t have sex, here’s a link to buy a pill that will fix you up so you can have sex, which is dangerous and scary by the way!”
The concept of sexual addiction is driven by economic factors. The professionals who feed the media’s need for psychological and biological explanations of sexual behavior are the same professionals who make a very good living providing treatment services to individuals who self-identify with sexual addiction after hearing these doctors and therapists on television.
The proselytizing of sex addiction ‘experts’ is a form of disease mongering. They are using the media, hype, and fear to create a disorder where none truly exists.
They’ve started trying to use brain science to explain it. They’re now talking about morphological changes that supposedly happen in the brain as somebody watches porn or has too much sex.
Careful scientists will tell you they are absolutely unable to identify any brain differences between these alleged sex addicts and non-sex addicts.
The other thing that they’ll tell you is that the brain changes constantly. Any behavior that a person engages in, especially repetitively, changes your brain.
Identifying changes related to this sexual behavior and distinguishing it from anything else is absolutely ridiculous.
What they’re doing is trying to build credibility. The major way that they build credibility is through metaphor, or “valley-girl science”.
They’ll tell you that sex addiction is like an eating disorder, it’s like a heroin addiction. The reality is this is an incredibly weak form of argument, because it’s so subjective.
When they tell you that sex addiction is like an eating disorder, they don’t tell you all the things that are different about it. They live by anecdotes, because they don’t have good science.
They are typically unable to put forth a healthy model of sexuality, and when they do, it is so transparently conservative and religiously driven that it’s frightening.
Most of the leaders of the sex-addiction movement are themselves recovering supposed sex addicts and religious folks. What they’re advocating is a moral system, not a medical one.