The concept of sex addiction gained traction in the 1980s, when Patrick Carnes published “Out of the Shadows,” one of the first books to identify compulsive sexual behavior, a problem he likened to an addiction.
Soon, treatment centers, 12-step programs and other resources grew around this new label, despite the fact that it has never been an accepted clinical diagnosis in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” which is widely viewed as the authoritative guide for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.
“To me, ‘sex addiction’ is a cultural myth,” said psychotherapist Joe Kort. “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.”
But should it be one? I asked several of my colleagues on both sides of the debate to weigh in on claims and myths surrounding sex addiction. Here’s what they said.