When does sex become a problem?
It has now become fashionable to scatter psychiatric diagnoses left and right. For example, having met a man whose sex life is much more active than ours, we, without thinking twice, hang a label on him: “sexologist”. But let’s try to figure out who are such “sexologist” in general and do they really exist?
The diagnosis of “sexoligism” does not exist
Speaking about sexogolism, it is necessary to remember that such a diagnosis is not in the lists of the International Classification of Diseases. And sexogolism in the form in which we understand it now is simply dependent behavior, often masking other, deeper psychological difficulties. However, there are a number of standard questionnaires to identify a person’s dependence on sex. But they are rather useless – the criteria are so vague that most people who have an active sex life fall under them.
In the modern approach to the definition of sexuality for a long time there is no such thing as “normal” sexuality. The norms of the permissible are still dictated by society and culture, but today psychology considers everything that meets several simple criteria to be healthy sexual behavior:
- It does not cause physical or mental harm to participants.
- It is voluntary and consent is obtained.
- It is pleasant and devoid of guilt, and also usually enhances self-esteem.
Despite such a broad concept of the norm, in modern psychiatry there is still a term such as paraphilia. Formally, paraphilia includes all sexual deviations, that is, all types of sustained sexual interest, except for interest in genital stimulation and foreplay with a phenotypically normal, consonant, mature partner.
It is important to distinguish the definition of paraphilia from the corresponding medical diagnosis, which is made only if the deviant sexual behavior takes the form of fixation. That is, when a person can satisfy his sexual needs in only one deviant way and nothing else. Other forms of sexuality realization for paraphilic are unacceptable and impossible, and the sexual partner for him is an object of satisfaction of desires. Only in this case will psychiatry consider a specific paraphilia in a particular person as a pathology.
Criteria for True “Sexualism”
Firstly, the loss of the ability to perceive a partner as a living person is his objectification. Basic preferences are preserved, such as the partner’s gender or some external features, but everything else ceases to play a role.
Secondly, common to all addictions, and for sexogolism in particular, a person’s inability to stop, the so-called compulsive behavior. That is, we can talk about dependence on sex only if, at the moment when a person has a sexual desire / impulse, he immediately rushes to realize it, forgetting about food, sleep, work.
The last criterion is that sexologists are more prone to “risky behavior” than others. It is important to understand that “risky behavior” and “promiscuous sexual intercourse” are not the same thing. If a person constantly changes partners, but at the same time always uses condoms, is regularly tested, then such behavior will be quite responsible. At the same time, you can have very few partners, but never use a condom and never even pass an elementary HIV test – this will be “risky behavior”, although formally it is not “promiscuous”.
Men are less fortunate
According to studies, men are more likely to be sexually active (approximately 80% of all sexaholics), and their total number does not exceed 8% of the population. The reason, most likely, lies in the cultural norms of society, where there is a patriarchal pattern, suggesting that all men are sex machines obsessed with constant desire. The same pattern leads to the fact that a man is often judged by the number of his “sexual victories.” And here sex can easily take the form of dependence: mutual pleasure from the process begins to fade into the background, and the main goal is to prove one’s own “masculinity”.
In cultures where there is no sexual education at all, people are forced to collect knowledge about sex from the world a thread, and the picture that they have is often infinitely far from reality. For example, the development and accessibility of pornography played a large role in the formation of sexual neurosis. When they get acquainted with the artistic image of “ideal sex” that the porn industry draws, people draw the wrong conclusions: that an erection occurs instantly and lasts for hours, that sexual arousal haunts you constantly, forcing you to have sex anywhere when you are covered.
The desire to adapt to this image leads a large number of people to various neuroses and can lead to addiction to sex, again, in an attempt to meet the impossible requirements imposed by pornography.
The most vulnerable group to this dependence will be the LGBT community and, in particular, homosexual men. For a gay man, all of the listed patriarchal stereotypes fall in full, multiplied by stereotypes about gay culture. The typical idea of a gay being a man obsessed exclusively with sex is quite far from reality, but this does not prevent a large part of the community from accepting this as an instruction for action. And since a gay man is supposed to want more sex than all his heterosexual acquaintances put together, then you don’t want to, but you have to match it.
This paradigm, born of the illusion fueled by gay porn and the “exponential” part of life with clubs, sex parties and saunas, makes people feel that all this is a gay community. And there is no other way to fit into it than to become obsessed with sex. And since LGBT people, by virtue of “minority stress,” are more prone to various addictions than others, fixation on sex may well develop into a pathological form.
“Normal people” don’t do that
And yet, not all of what is considered “sexogolism” should be treated.
First of all, a person who suspects that he is dependent on sex should pay a visit to a psychologist who first asks him about why he got this? What kind of sexual behavior is this, how risky is it, and is it about behavior in general? At this stage, in most cases, it will be found that there is an attitude like “this is my sexual behavior, but normal people do not.” But what people just do not do in bed, and there is no reason to pathologize their sex life as long as it satisfies the signs of a healthy manifestation of sexuality described above.
True sexual addiction is quite rare. And if a person found it at home, he would come to a psychologist with a request “I know that it hurts me, but I can’t stop.” And there will already be work with moderation and mindfulness practices, behavioral therapy, standard when working with addictions. But in this case, both the client and the psychologist should remember that such an addiction can often be the result of other problems, for example, mask the onset of depression or be a manifestation of the manic phase in bipolar disorder.
Dependency and Pattern
To date, there are no clear and objective criteria that would allow us to define sexogolism as a separate disease or to accurately diagnose it. We can talk about dependence on sex if the consequences of sexual life harm a person’s physical or mental health and impair their ability to socially adapt. There is no criterion for the number of sexual partners, the frequency of their change, or other characteristics of sexual life, after which we have the right to hang the label “sexologist” on a person. This is a task for psychiatrists. And if we want to do this, then most likely this is an occasion to go to the psychologist for ourselves. And to figure out where in our head an absurd pattern came up that “normal people” do not.