The world we are living in is difficult to navigate even when we are at the top of our game. Throw Hypersexuality (or any other addiction for that matter) into the mix and it makes it near impossible! Addiction of any kind has the potential to derail and devastate the lives of anyone and everyone in its wake. And it does. So why do we know so little about Hypersexuality? Why, when it is such a common condition, is their still such a stigma attached to it?
People with a sex addiction hate themselves enough for it without the judgement and hate they receive from those on the other side of the fence. People with Hypersexuality disorder did not choose this addiction any more than they choose to act on their impulses when the urge is too strong.
What is Hypersexuality or Sex Addiction
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the definition of Hypersexuality. “Hypersexual Disorder” was rejected by the American Psychiatric Association from being included in the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Not a great start for anyone who is trying to come to terms with their Hypersexual Disorder.
Hypersexuality is real, and it is much more than having a high sex drive, or the occasional increased sexual desire. It is a sexual addiction that often leads to (potentially harmful) compulsive sexual behaviors. More than that, sex becomes an obsession. In the same way that the only thing a heroin addict can think about is planning their next fix, people suffering from Hypersexuality, spend a lot of time thinking about or planning their next “fix”. This may include anything from indulging in paraphilias (sexual perversions), compulsive masturbation, to paying for sex. Just the idea of these indulgences gives them a dissociative or neurochemical high. It gives them butterflies.
Once the desire to act on it becomes too strong, impulse control goes out the window. They act on it. They regret it. It does not satisfy them, but instead, it leaves them full of shame and regret.
Hypersexuality is a Process Addiction. Substance Addiction is easy enough to understand because there is a substance, be it alcohol, prescription drugs or narcotic drugs, and you become addicted to them. With process addictions, as the name suggests, it is the process of chasing a high.
How do you know when someone has an addiction? You’ll know when they have tried with all their strength and willpower to stop but couldn’t. When they have promised themselves, or their loved ones that they would change, but broke those promises. When they the chase of the high starts having a negative on their life. Hypersexual women and men or sex addicted person often end up losing their jobs, cheating on their spouses, having unprotected sex, and breaking a whole lot of the moral codes they thought were ingrained in their very being.
The Many Possible Causes of Hypersexual Behavior
There is a long list of illnesses and mental disorders of which Hypersexuality is a symptom and not just a standalone addiction. It is important to differentiate between a Sex Addiction and Hypersexual behavior that is the result of an underlying issue. Some people actually suffer from both at the same time, in the same way that you can, for example, be a heroin addict with bipolar disorder or diagnosed with both ADHD and Hypersexuality. Some of the causes of hypersexuality include:
Temporal Lobe Epilepsy
People suffering from temporal lobe seizures experience sexual arousal as a result.
It is incredibly rare, but not unheard of, that people being treated for Parkinson’s can develop Hypersexuality as a result of the treatment. Antiparkinsonian drugs can cause Hypersexuality.
Klein-Levin Syndrome is also known as “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome”. Hypersomnia! It’s the opposite of insomnia and it is no fun! It is not entirely uncommon for people with this condition to develop Hypersexuality or at least the some of the symptoms of Hypersexuality.
Klüver-Bucy Syndrome is most commonly caused by Herpes Simplex Encephalitis (HSE). The Herpes creates lesions on the Anterior Temporal Horn in the brain, which in turn can result in Hypersexual behavior or tendencies.
Sexual dysfunction is a common symptom of Adult ADHD. Someone suffering from ADHD is as likely to suffer from Hypersexuality as they to suffer from Hyposexuality. There is simply no winning with so many mental disorders!
Hypersexuality in dementia patients is quite common. People suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease often lose their inhibitions and simply aren’t aware or in control of their sexual behavior.
The bipolar – hypersexuality combination is very common. Hypersexuality in women and men suffering from Bipolar disorder is tough. The highs are HIGHER, but the lows are LOWER. Hypersexuality has the potential to ruin lives.
It’s even more difficult when you are in a relationship, because the actual act of sex is never satisfying, and you will always be left with a partner who is being objectified. Many people with Bipolar Disorder and Hypersexuality cheat on their significant others, even if they are the most loyal and loving partners that ever existed.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Hypersexuality is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Patients with Hypersexuality are obsessed with sex or sexual activity until the point that they feel compelled to act on it.
Traumatic Experiences or Abuse
Hypersexuality can stem from a significant traumatic experience or abuse. It is common (among other mental disorders), in people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sex Addiction Symptoms
The symptoms of Hypersexuality is rarely narrowed down to anyone sexual obsession or sexual behavior that patients fantasize about and feel compelled to act on.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of Hypersexuality:
- Spending a lot of time thinking and fantasizing about and planning sexual acts
- Having multiple sexual partners and cheating on your partner
- Spending a lot of time on adult chat rooms
- Spending a lot of time watching porn or reading adult magazines
- Feeling emotionally detached from sexual partners
- Regularly having sexual encounters with prostitutes or strangers
- Performing sexual acts even though it goes against your beliefs or morals
- Having unprotected sex with no regard for the potential consequences
- Excessive (and compulsive) masturbation
- Regularly indulging in paraphilias
- Voyeurism: Obsessing about an unobtainable person in a sexual context, which includes behaviors such as stalking or spying
What is Frotteurism?
Frotteurism is one manifestation of Hypersexuality, which makes people feel sexually aroused and compelled to touch or rub other people (without their consent).
Sex Addiction vs. Porn Addiction
Although both sex addiction and porn addiction encompass sexual activity or sexual compulsivity, there is a differentiation between the two. Some people suffer from one addiction or the other. Some people have both, in the same way, that someone can be addicted to two substances at the same time. Like alcohol and nicotine. Or alcohol and heroin.
Porn Addiction Test
There are plenty of online porn addiction tests that people can take if they are concerned about whether their frequent porn indulgence is becoming a little too frequent. Could they stop if they wanted to?
Many people enjoy porn, but the problem starts when it becomes a compulsion. Having a porn addiction can mean that someone has a very unhealthy relationship with sex, and is a condition that needs to be taken seriously.
Treating Sex Addiction
Successfully treating Hypersexuality starts with a proper diagnosis. If the Hypersexual behavior is brought on by an underlying medical or mental condition, that condition needs to be treated. In patients being treated for Hypersexuality and another condition, the two need to be treated separately.
These are the most common treatment methods for treating people with Hypersexuality:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Medications: Men with Hypersexuality are sometimes treated with a Gonadotropin-releasing hormone
- Sex therapy
- Couples therapy
- Support groups
It’s scary to think about how much stigma is attached to mental illness. And it’s sad that the lack of understanding about mental illness makes it a seemingly acceptable joke in everyday life. People casually throw around terms like “OCD” or “nymphomaniac”, but when it comes down to the actual medical condition the topic becomes taboo.
People need to start showing the same amount of respect and compassion for those struggling with mental illness, as they do for those with cancer. Hypersexuality is a serious condition. It is a fight. But it can be treated.