Sex Q&A: Is Sex Addiction real?

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North Carolina Sex Therapist Dr. Sara Rosenquist talked to Creative Loafing about a disorder we've all been hearing a lot about. Sexual addiction.

From cheating husbands to the anonymous group of people that attend Sex Addicts Anonymous meetings, people are being affected by a disorder that is shunned by society and not even recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

Creative Loafing: What is sexual addiction? Is it a real disorder?

Dr. Rosenquist: It's very complicated and it's so controversial within the professional community to consider it a disorder. It's not in the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The notion of it as an addiction is a metaphor because the

compulsivity of it behaves as if it were an addiction. The person, when they focus their sexuality in an objectifying way , is disassociating sexual stimulation from the emotional component and the relational component. The person is using sexual arousal and orgasms to deal with anxiety. In that way, it behaves as if  it is an addiction. But it is a conceptual frame we put around it in order to talk about it and in order to understand it and to try and be compassionate and come up with solutions. But it's not like diabetes, it's not like the physical disorders.

How does a person know that their sex habits are a problem?

Unable to resist their urges, despite the fact that the consequences are increasingly costly. [Former President Bill] Clinton was not able to resist his urges despite the fact that the consequences were enormous. It's like with an alcohol addiction, you keep needing more. Where one drink used to get you loose, you have to have three or four to even get a buzz. You need more danger and more edge to get the same jolt.

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