We've all heard about sex and porn addiction. Plenty of celebrities have checked themselves into rehab over the years, claiming these addictions have ruined their lives. But it's not just celebrities who have suffered with these conditions.
People who say they are addicted to sex or porn (or both) are everywhere, and accordingly, the number of organizations who cater to them, offering treatment to manage the addiction, has grown significantly in recent years.
But a new position statement from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, the body that represents the very people who treat sex and porn addiction, suggests that these addictions—while undoubtedly impacting on those experiencing them—aren't technically any kind of psychological disorder.
"When contentious topics and cultural conflicts impede sexuality education and health care, AASECT may publish position statements to clarify standards to protect consumer sexual health and sexual rights," the statement says.
It goes on to outline that the empirical evidence does not back up the existence of a mental disorder linked to sex and porn.
"AASECT recognizes that people may experience significant physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual health consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors. AASECT recommends that its members utilize models that do not unduly pathologize consensual sexual behaviors.
"AASECT 1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge.
"Therefore, it is the position of AASECT that linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy."
Basically, it says, right now the research doesn't back up the existence of sex or porn addiction as a genuine mental disorder. And because of this, care should be taken to ensure people are not being taken advantage of, incorrectly diagnosed, or treated for a "problem" they do not have.
As above, the AASECT makes these types of statements when something is contentious, and arguably because it's contentious. There's still plenty of debate going on over whether sex and porn addiction is real (and how exactly those addictions can be defined), and the matter is by no means settled.
But clinical psychologist David Ley, himself not a believer in either condition, says the ruling is a big win for skeptics who might have doubts about the growing "treatments" industry.
"It hits the credibility of sex-addiction therapists kind of between the legs frankly," he told The Cut. "These are clinicians who claim to [work on] sexuality issues, and the main body of sex therapist says that they are not demonstrating an adequate understanding of sexuality itself."
His view, outlined in more detail in his book, , is that singling out sex as the single cause of someone's problems can prevent them from dealing with other mental issues in a more holistic way.
H/t: The Cut