"Imagine trying to live without air. Now imagine something worse."
What Is It?
Hypersexual Disorder, or HD, is hard to diagnose because it has not been recognized by the scientific community for long and has not been studied enough yet. Until recently, a person who claimed to have frequent or constant uncontrollable urges to have sex was ridiculed and thought to be making an excuse to get away with infidelity (think about all the trouble we gave Tiger Woods). It is currently being discussed if the disorder should be placed in the DSM, also called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The current theories suggest that HD is very similar to eating disorders and gambling addictions, as well as some obsessive compulsive tendencies. Like an eating disorder, the urge to participate in risky sexual actions is uncontrollable and undeniable. Like a gambling addiction, the sufferer either doesn’t care about the personal and financial consequences or can’t stop regardless of them. Like an obsessive compulsive disorder, the compulsion is so strong the sufferer cannot prevent it, except instead of hand washing due to internal insecurities, it's participating in dangerous or illegal sex acts such as viewing pornography at work or buying time with prostitutes. Doesn’t sound like fun anymore, does it?
How Is It Diagnosed?
According to WebMD, this so far unofficial disorder seems to affect men, especially gay men, more than women. This makes sense when you assume that the disorder is deep-rooted in emotional problems, such as stress or depression. When you consider the anxiety homosexual men suffer and the depression it causes, coupled with constant discrimination, it is easy to see how that can spark a disorder on a mental level in connection with sexual acts. This is especially true if the sufferer has had these feelings of shame or undesirability since childhood. Here is a list of criteria to help diagnose the issue, listed in US News:
The criteria include:
- Recurring sexual behavior over six or more months.
- Strong sexual fantasies in reaction to stressful environments or life events.
- Failed attempts by the sufferer to reduce the sexual behavior.
- Sexual behavior that can cause or trigger diagnosable stress in personal life.
It is also listed in a similar format on popsci.com, a popular science website.
What Does It Do?
It’s obvious that such a condition, if uncontrolled, can easily ruin relationships. It also poses a threat to jobs where a sufferer feels compelled to constantly watch pornography online, even when warned that it could cost them their job. It can cost sufferers money and expose them to sexual illnesses if they are buying prostitutes to help ease their stress or sate the desires caused by their disorder. People can be made to feel like they have no control over their sex life and that these acts cannot be stopped or the thought process changed. This is not wholly true, however, because there are forms of treatment out there.
While it is not currently recognized by itself as a disorder, WebMD does have something to say about treatment. Counseling and support groups, which are used in therapy for those suffering from eating disorders, can be used. This lets the sufferer know they are not alone in their struggles and gives them an understanding and supportive audience to their pain. A website exists where sufferers can connect with other sufferers online to discuss their problems and receive and give daily support to one another as they recover. That website is called Sex Addicts Anonymous. It’s a friendly community that is always ready to welcome those who nobody else seems to understand and help with their addiction.
Sometimes medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder can be added to help curb those compulsions to commit sexual acts. This can help an individual think clearly enough to make the best decision on their own rather than suffering the feeling of constantly being under control of this disorder. In some cases, this in combination with therapy can help sufferers become survivors and find control over their own sex lives again.
Most average people are not suffering from this disorder. It is normal to have sex often and enjoy it with your partner. However, you may meet someone who claims that they feel they cannot control their urges and even dislike the acts they feel compelled to participate in; please don’t judge them too harshly. Instead direct them to SAA and try to be there to support them as they struggle with this affliction. If you fear you have been suffering in silence and want to find answers and peace, please visit Sex Addicts Anonymous for a loving and supportive community to help you. Thank you for taking the time to read about this serious issue.