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Sex Addiction Sells!

By Rob Peach

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sex addiction sells sex therapy torontoIn my last blog post, Porn Addiction: Myth or Method?, I shared the scientific community’s view that the concept of ‘porn’ or ‘sex addiction’ is not an empirically validated model of assessing or treating compulsive sexual behaviours, rather that it is inaccurate ideology that we’ve adopted in an effort to make sense of a really difficult issue.

So, if ‘Sex Addiction’ is not a valid model to explain compulsive sexual behaviours, why then has it become so popular?

This past April, I attended the annual meeting of the Society of Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR) in Chicago ( Psychologist David Ley, author of The Myth of Sex Addiciton (Rowman and Littlefield, 2012), presented his ‘Top 11’ reasons why this model, despite it’s lack of evidence, has taken such a hold on how we think about and explain this issue. While I won’t even try to report on his witty and informed presentation (you can read about it for yourself here:, my personal ‘take away’ was:

I need to be more aware of the ‘power of the press’. Celebrities, special interest groups and individuals with their own agendas have the ability to manipulate the internet and it’s users into adopting their values and objectives. As Ley pointed out, ‘Who needs science when we have the internet?’! We need to be critical consumers of information and rely on data from peer reviewed, academically sound sources. AND
The scientific and medical community has not been a source of accurate information about how to assess and treat compulsive sexual behaviour and, in our absence on the subject, other models have been given the space to offer their models. As a clinician, it’s my role to provide valid and sound information to my clients.

So, if ‘Sex Addiction’ isn’t real, what is???

Well, also at the SSTAR annual meeting, therapists and researchers Douglas Braun-Harvey and Michael Vigorito presented their new treatment model and book, Treating Out of Control Sexual Behaviour (Springer Publishing, 2015). Braun-Harvey and Vigorito reconsider popular notions of ‘addictive sex’. Their sexual health psychotherapy protocol ‘is an innovative treatment approach for men experiencing sexual lives beyond their control. “Out of control sexual behavior” (OCSB) is defined as a sexual health problem in which consensual sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors feel out of control. As opposed to a clinical disorder, OCSB is framed as a behavioral problem within the normal range of sexual expression’.

So, read for yourself what these researchers are saying!

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