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Sex Addiction: Does It Really Exist?

Monday, September 29th, 2008 Sex Addiction: Does It Really Exist?

X Files’ David Duchovny has joined Michael Douglas and Russell Brand by announcing he’s a sex addict, but does the condition actually exist or is it just an excuse to play away? Dr Simon Kelly, consultant psychiatrist at celebrity rehab centre The Priory, says that even academics disagree on the subject.

The debate in the medical world comes from whether it’s just a form of human behaviour or an actual medical condition. However Kelly insists a person can be addicted to sex in the same way that others are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

“If you think of addictions, it’s a psychological compulsion. For example, to use a drug or engage in behaviour despite the harm that often sits long after the physical symptoms of withdrawal has abated; people have a compulsion to do stuff. There are addictions such as gambling. which is already classified, so I think it’s just that the legislators of us as psychiatrists are a bit behind the times.”

kelly goes on to argue that sex addiction can be proven from the point of view that the brain has a reward system releasing dopamine. He says It’s released when we do something that’s pleasurable, challenging or exciting. So if you go out and buy a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, gamble, engage in sexual behaviour, or have alcohol or drug use you get a lot of dopamine being released.

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