Medicalization Of Sex Addiction: Society's Obsession With Medical Diagnosis

1259 words - 6 pages

Medicalization describes the shift in authority concerning abnormal human conditions. Quirks previously seen as by-products of maturation began to see heavy examination and were classified under medical terms. As a result, the past few decades have seen an obscene number of compulsions and disorders deemed medical conditions, further exacerbating the unnecessary institutionalization of many harmless irregularities. This string coincides with the growing popularity of sex addiction and the debate over its inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The mere thought of such a neurotic desire potentially joining the DSM alongside major mental and learning ...view middle of the document...

The previously stable strength of religion also contributed to the perceived curse of sex addicts, as their infidelity and lack of procreative intent were viewed as selfish and hollow ways to live. These shortcomings, compounded with the weakness of absolute dependency caused society to write off sex addicts as moral failures.
Sex addiction is one of the more recently medicalized disorders, with numerous media references and a more sexually educated and oriented society to thank. Media popularization of sex addiction in various films, coupled with safety net claims by professional athletes and prominent political figures have contributed to the medicalization of sex addiction. Public scandals involving visible figures such as professional golfer Tiger Woods and former governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer have leaned on sex addiction to shift blame, setting off a chain of widely publicized therapy, recovery programs and withdrawal to show a willingness to heal, while the gossip slides out of the public limelight. The prevalence of such cases in the media, coupled with small scale claims among communities has spurred consideration of sex addiction as an actual medical condition, worthy of DSM placement. With alleged addicts blaming their cross for their affairs, broken homes and obsessions, it became only a matter of time before scientists could spin this compulsive disorder off as a full-blown addiction.
The product was any combination of sexually stimulating behaviors that could become addictive through repeated trials. Medically, the issue was described as a “pattern of sexual behaviors that are out of control and continue despite negative consequences” (Canada Sex Addiction Treatment n.d, 1). Anything from compulsive masturbation to multiple sexual partners falls under the umbrella of sexual addiction, with the key symptoms being the addict’s lack of satisfaction with the sexual activity and an absence of an emotional bond with his partners (MedicineNet 2007, 1). Aside from the obvious symptoms, there has been debate over how the disorder should be classified. Not yet officially confirmed by the DSM, sex addiction is largely seen as more of a sexual compulsivity, where the individuals display a lack of control prevalent in most obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCDs). Therefore, this behavior can be seen as both an addiction, similar in principle to substance addictions, and as a compulsive disorder, similar to other anxiety-reducing urges.
The medicalization of sexual addiction has given rise to many drawn out treatments for the disorder that trace the healing processes of many serious addictions. Treating sexual addiction requires an admission of the problem, followed by a process of controlling the behavior and converting it to a healthy and normal pattern. The recovery process relies on the motivation to surrender the compulsion as well as a stringent path of twelve-step support groups, professional counseling and...

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