Sex Addiction and Porn Addiction Get a Diagnosis

Sex addiction and porn addiction get a diagnosisIt’s finally happening. After years or research and many studies, sex addiction and porn addiction will this year be officially recognized as mental disorders.

 

Diagnosing an Addiction

At some point in 2018, perhaps as soon as this summer, the World Health Organization (WHO) will release the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The ICD is the definitive diagnostic manual for medical and psychological conditions and disorders everywhere in the world except for the United States.

 

In the US, we tend to rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA declined to include a diagnosis for sex addiction and pornography addiction in the DSM-5, citing insufficient research, though there was some wrangling about it.

 

The APA and the WHO usually stay in step with one another, with the APA following the WHO’s lead. When one organization makes a change (often the WHO), the other usually falls in line (usually the APA). This means that any changes and updates in the ICD will often soon show up in the DSM.

 

The Diagnosis: Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder

The WHO has looked at the research on sexual addiction and pornography addiction since the publication of the DSM-5 and has concluded that out-of-control sexual behavior is substantiated and deserving of a diagnosis. The WHO is calling the issue Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder (CSBD), with a ICD-11 code of 6C72. The WHO’s description to be included in the ICD-11 is worth quoting in full:

 

Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour. Symptoms may include repetitive sexual activities becoming a central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities; numerous unsuccessful efforts to significantly reduce repetitive sexual behaviour; and continued repetitive sexual behaviour despite adverse consequences or deriving little or no satisfaction from it. The pattern of failure to control intense, sexual impulses or urges and resulting repetitive sexual behaviour is manifested over an extended period of time (e.g., 6 months or more), and causes marked distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Distress that is entirely related to moral judgments and disapproval about sexual impulses, urges, or behaviours is not sufficient to meet this requirement.

 

While CSBD will be included in the ICD-11 under “Impulse Control Disorders” for the time being instead of being grouped with other addictions such as gambling disorder and substance abuse disorders, it’s likely that the disorder will be categorized there as more research comes out. Such a categorization may finally quell the naysayers who deny that sex and porn addiction are real, despite the elements of addiction evident in the WHO’s description above:

  1. Failure to control sexual impulses (loss of control)
  2. Repeated cravings or urges to act out sexually
  3. Marked impairment as a result of the pattern of sexual behavior (i.e., it’s causing problems)
  4. Continuing to engage in the behavior despite these adverse effects
  5. Relapse (the person has quit for a time but returns to the behavior)
  6. Attempts to stop or reduce the frequency of engaging in the behavior (loss of control)
  7. Sexual behaviors become the focus of one’s life as the addiction takes over
  8. Habituation to pornography and sexual behaviors (tolerance)

 

Why Is This Important?

There are a number of reasons why this may be important to you. First of all, and perhaps most importantly, if you’re struggling with problematic sexual behaviors or you love someone who does, that the WHO is finally recognizing sex or porn addiction as real phenomena could be immensely validating. Many who have struggled in the shadows have been confused by the debate surrounding a diagnosis for sex addiction and porn addiction.

 

Moreover, the issuance of a diagnosis will make it far easier for those who need help to be reimbursed by insurance companies. Even though workarounds have been used for a while, these diagnoses often don’t truly reflect the nature of sex and porn addiction.

 

The CSBD diagnosis will also make funding new research much easier, paving the way for the next generation of scientific study and confirmation of these conditions.

 

Sources:

https://www.yourbrainonporn.com/world-health-organizations-icd-11

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2018/05/its-official-compulsive-sexual-behavior-sex-addiction-gets-a-diagnosis/

 

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Jeremy Mast
jeremy@jeremymast.com

Jeremy is a licensed marriage and family therapist (CA LMFT90961) in private practice in Ventura, California. He helps those struggling with drugs, alcohol, and out-of-control sexual behaviors awaken to new possibilities for their lives. He lives with his wife, son, and cat in beautiful southern California.

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