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Is the label of Sex Addict a useful thing?

Posted: 01/04/2014

I think labelling someone as a “Sex Addict” is not a good way to try to help people whose sexual behaviour is out of control and who are in distress. One of my big concerns about “the sex addiction label” is that it is a label borrowed from drug addiction models, and treats sexual behaviour that is problematic for someone as if it is a disease that can be treated like a physical disease. This can unintentionally engender passivity and helplessness in clients, and in some cases lead to abdicating responsibility. Passive and helpless is the exact opposite of how you want clients to be.

Clients need to be able to recognise that their out of control sexual behaviour is to do with problems in their own emotional and psychological development and, that they can do something to change it. Sex can make individuals feel better when they are stressed, but if this is the only they know to cope with stress than they will run into problems in life. Sex is about relating and clients need to see and understand how their unhelpful patterns of managing feelings and relating to others can lead to out of control sexual behaviour. If they can’t see the pattern how on earth can they possibly begin to change it?” And it is not surprising that they may latch onto the idea of addiction to attempt to understand their behaviour.

Robert Watson, Clinical Psychologist, Become Psychology

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