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Is Sexually Compulsive Behavior Part of New Attitudes Toward “Typical” Sexual Behavior?

To experts, the problem seems obvious. More people are asking for help with sexual addiction or sexual compulsivity, but the number of treatment centers and professional therapists trained in this complex area remains small. More people are compulsively using online pornography, yet the terms related to treatment for sexual compulsivity are largely uncommon.

While stories of celebrities, families, and successful individuals from all social classes continue to circulate about the aggressive and powerful nature of sexual addiction, research to declare official findings related to diagnosis and treatments has been sporadic. More studies are emerging to compare the impacts of sexual addiction on the brain and other biological systems to more widely accepted addictions like alcohol or heroin, yet formal acceptance across the psychiatric and psychological fields has remained a subject of debate.

Why? Many research articles suggest that the challenge lies in determining what exactly is “typical” sexual behavior. The incredible pace of availability of sexual material online, pornography across digital mediums and smartphone apps for specific sexual tastes has created new interest in sex across the globe, and serves not only to create a platform for people to act out sexually compulsive behavior but to create more acceptance in a larger gamut of sexual activities.

In terms of sexual addiction as a compulsive disorder, the focus is shifting toward the ways the condition resembles other impulse-control and compulsive disorders: people cannot control their cravings or urges, even when consequences are known; they have obsessive and continuous thoughts about the behaviors and they use compulsive sexual behaviors to self-medicate or numb out from negative stimulus.

As mental health professionals continue to understand compulsive sexual disorders and sexual addiction more clearly, experts believe they will find that many patients with other concurrent diagnoses – such as depression, anxiety disorder or substance abuse – may also have underlying and unrevealed sexually compulsive behaviors, as part of a stream of connected conditions requiring treatment for long-term recovery and wellness.

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