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Is Sex Addiction The New Male Predilection? The Label Is Outdated And Should Be Relegated

Is Sex Addiction The New Male Predilection? The Label Is Outdated And Should Be Relegated

By Yvonne Sam
Social Columnist

yvonne-samMany still hold the genuine belief that traditional manhood is lethal, but is masculinity the true problem? Or is the label “sex addiction” a social construct that will eventually destruct?

The recent tsunami of sex scandals has left in its wake a massive male problem. However we are farther away from finding a solution, as the problem has not been correctly defined.

The shock waves have spared no profession: doctors, businessmen, editors, television news anchors, administrators, actors, directors, politicians, mayors, congressmen, comedians and even former presidents.

In fact, Jackie Speier, a Democrat and the U.S. Representative for California’s 14th congressional district, testified that Capitol Hill is “among the worst of hostile work environments for women.

In a similar scandal, rocking Great Britain, politicians have resigned in droves.

Collective moral outrage descended suddenly and swiftly on the offending males, with unmitigated fury.

So many names – Aziz Ansari, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, John Halperin of ABC News, Larry Nassar, Ryan Seacrest, Geraldo Rivera, to name a few. So much shame and so much blame!

Almost overnight the rules governing many sectors of society became changed, and acts, previously tolerated or encouraged, are now deemed repulsive. Notwithstanding, the fact that many of the alleged sexual infractions are decades old – and so are the accusers — the new standard is the only standard. It is apparent that no one is invincible, especially with no end in sight for the widening scandals.

In the majority of cases, as the domains, where harassment was formerly condoned, are getting cleaned up, it is apparent that the guilty perpetrators are finally receiving the punishment that it is felt they richly deserve.

However, that it is not all that is taking place — every wrongdoing, large or small, is being treated with the same resentment and contempt.

A lesson emerging from many of Harvey Weinstein’s critics is that there is something inherently pernicious about men in general.

In a frank interview on BBC 2 Newsnight, Oscar-winning actress, Emma Thompson, said, “Harvey Weinstein is not a sex addict. He is a predator.” Using this view, all men are then seen as potential rapists.

One pundit contended that there is only one resolution to this innate issue, i.e, whenever a man in power is found guilty, fire him and replace him with a woman.

Looking at the circumstances, as well as giving consideration to the presenting evidence surrounding not only Harvey Weinstein but all the other men, reveals that the basic problem is not traditional masculinity but human nature.

The story is oh-so-familiar and the script well worn— a Hollywood star leaves to go and receive treatment because they have an addiction. For some, like Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods or Harvey Weinstein it is a sexual addiction; they cannot stop having sex.

Addiction is not to be viewed as an excuse for bad behavior, however, it does reflect the fact that the individual has deeper-set issues that need to be addressed and worked through.

In practically every human being sex is an inherent fundamental drive, with a large percentage of the systems of our brains being responsible for, or at least involved in, it. An elemental urgency to seek out sex and an ability to have a go at it when we desire it, is a remarkably human trait.

This has many symbolic ramifications for how our societies and cultures work, but one pertinent problem is: at what point do you want sex too much? This is certainly not an easy thing to pin down.

Opposers of the idea of sex addiction contend that it is yet another effort to attach a clinical diagnosis on normal human behavior.

For the greater part of the 20th century, psychiatrists, as well as lay people, described addictions as use of substances or behaviors that called for ever–increasing doses in an effort to maintain a satisfying high.

There is still ongoing debate among sex addiction specialists regarding the appropriateness of the application of the term, addiction, to normal human behaviours like sex.

In addition, these addictions also colluded to form some type of physiologic dependence, which caused physical symptoms — vomiting and diarrhea — when the addictive substance or activity ceased

There is an absence of these obvious withdrawal symptoms in the case of sex addicted individuals, and a sex addict does not appear to need more and more sex over time.

Incidentally sex addiction is neither listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM) nor the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) — the two health catalogues used by medical professionals as their mental health diagnoses bibles.

The World Health Organization’s forthcoming update to the ICD is, for the first time, also expected to list sex addiction as an official diagnosis.

According to David Ley, a clinical psychologist and author of The Myth of Sex Addiction, a diagnosis of sex addiction is based on the individual therapist’s personal idea of what constitutes an excessive amount of sex, and this varies a lot between them.

There is still ongoing debate among sex addiction specialists regarding the appropriateness of the application of the term, addiction, to normal human behaviours like sex.

The very suggestion that something is wrong with individuals, who engage in a lot of sex, may be viewed as pathologising normal behavior, and failing to deal with the underlying causes of this behavior, all of which are ultimately harmful.

The hastily-contrived disease of sex addiction and blaming the presence of design flaws in men, allows us to turn a blind eye to the moral cesspool of our own creation. Labelling is easier to deal with, than actually talking with the individual about their emotional pain.

The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), founded in 1967, released a historic statement about sex addiction, contending that mislabeling of sexual addiction makes for poor therapy.

The label, sex addiction, is tantamount to a hastily placed Band Aid over a festering wound, and is no longer as helpful as was previously hoped or thought. Its purpose has been served.

We must remove the label as we are able, and look beneath the sexual acts for the true facts. The label is outdated and should be relegated.

Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.

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