Russell Brand, Tiger Woods, Anthony Weiner and, now, Scott Disick have one thing in common: They have all claimed to be sex addicts, or they’ve been called sex addicts by the media.
If you are a fan of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” you probably already know that Scott Disick — Kourtney Kardashian’s on-again, off-again partner — claimed to be a sex addict while arguing with Kris, Kourtney, Kim and Khloé on camera.
Disick, who has been linked to a bevy of women during his tumultuous decade-plus relationship with the eldest Kardashian sister, was busted for bringing a lady friend on a Kardashian family trip to Costa Rica. While being bashed for his behavior, he blamed Kourtney and then pulled out the sex-addiction card. “I’m a sex addict,” he told the family. “I’m a f***ed-up, horrible sex addict.”
Wait just one second, Disick. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “sex addiction” isn’t an actual thing. That’s right: The organization does not currently recognize sex addiction as a mental illness, and what Disick pulled is what many psychologists would call a “premature evaluation.”
Disick definitely isn’t the first celebrity to use sex addiction to justify his or her inappropriate behavior. But unlike substance abuse and gambling disorders, sex addiction, hypersexuality and pornography addiction aren’t on the DSM-5, the go-to standard for classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals. Still, many people seek help for what they deem to be sex addiction and check into treatment centers to kick it.
“To me, ‘sex addiction’ is a cultural myth,” psychotherapist Joe Kort told CNN. “Thirty years ago, we didn’t have a better way to describe people who worried that their sexual behavior was out of control, so it made sense to call it addiction. But it’s not an actual diagnosis.”
A 2014 University of Cambridge study offered a shred of support for the diagnosis, determining that the brain activity of men who struggled with “compulsive sexual behavior” when shown porn videos or sports footage mirrored that of drug addicts given photos of drugs. Another study likened sex addiction to gambling disorder, meaning that it could be considered more behavioral than chemical. However, a 2015 study examining “porn addiction” conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, concluded that self-proclaimed sex addicts’ brain activity didn’t vary from those who simply had high libidos.
So if sex addiction isn’t an acknowledged diagnosis, why is the term thrown around so loosely? “Sex addiction is truly a social phenomenon, not a clinical or medical one,” clinical psychologist David Ley, author of “The Myth of Sex Addiction,” told Vice.
“Most people who self-identify as sex addicts do so because they or their spouse read an article or saw a talk show about sex addiction.” Some experts will even go on to say individuals make up the claim to justify bad behavior such as cheating on their partner. (According to People, Disick later admitted that “sex addict” was “the first thing that popped into” his head when attempting to defend his behavior.)
For those who believe they may be “addicted” to porn, Hungarian scientists recently devised an at-home test to determine if pornography has become problematic, claiming 3.6 percent of the 772 people surveyed did in fact fall into the red zone. And for anyone who fears they are “hypersexual” to an unhealthy extent, there are a number of ways to control sex drive, which vary from avoiding pornography to getting plenty of physical exercise.
If you think you have a problem, it is always a good idea to seek professional help — especially before you announce your self-diagnosis on television.
What Do YOU Think?
Is Scott Disick a sex addict? Do you think sex addiction is a real diagnosis? Should more research be done on the topic?