A few months ago I had the pleasure of being at the Community-Academic Consortium For Research on Alternative Sexualities 2012 Alternative Sexualities Conference in Chicago at which Dr. David Ley delivered the opening plenary presentation titled The Myth of Sex Addiction: How the Concept of Sex Addiction Stigmatizes Nontraditional Sexual Behavior.
During that opening plenary Dr. Ley laid out a reasoned presentation of the cultural history, moral judgments and junk science the underlie what Dr. Ley refers to as an alleged disorder, sex addiction. To paraphrase the description from the conference program. Dr. Ley exposed the subjective values embedded in the concept, as well as the significant economic factors that drive the label of sex addiction in clinical practice and the popular media. He outlined how this label represents a social attack on many forms of sexuality – male sexuality in particular – as well as any alternative and nontraditional sexualities, including BDSM, polyamory, swinging, and so on. Dr. Ley went against current assumptions and trends, debunking the idea that sex addiction is real and detailed the many social and professional risks that are posed by the concept of sex addiction.
By the time Dr. Ley’s presentation was finished I was a big fan. His case for his contentions was a good one.
Fast forward a few months later and I finally got around to reading Dr. Ley’s book The Myth of Sex Addiction and I am now even more of a fan of Dr. Ley and his message. The book is an incredibly important contribution to the field of human sexuality.
A while back I was reading Dr. Gloria Brame’s book The Truth About Sex, A Sex Primer for the 21st Century Volume I: Sex and the Self and in a small section of that book Dr. Brame laid out her case regarding sex addiction that’s very much in sync with Dr. Ley’s position. My instincts tell me as more professionals and academics wrestle with the concept of sex addiction, more voices will come forward to challenge the rabid application of this diagnosis. While I know it is controversial, and I’m always willing to listen to other opinions, I consider Dr. Ley’s argument convincing enough that I believe sex addiction to be, at least for the majority who are diagnosed with it, a false disorder. A complete rethink needs to happen within the psychotherapeutic field regarding how cavalierly the sex addition diagnosis is applied to individuals.
If you read the book, I’m quite interested in your opinion of the book and its stance.