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Hypersexuality, Sex Addiction, Could Just Be High Libido

Hypersexuality, or sex addiction, could just be the result of a high libido and not because of a mental or neurological disorder, scientists theorize.

Hypersexuality (sex addiction) could just be the result of a high libido and not because of a mental disorder, scientists theorize.

Hypersexuality, more commonly known as sex addiction, is the abnormally frequent or sudden increase in sexual urges.

While alcohol and drugs can affect sexual inhibitions in people, those allegedly suffering from a sex addiction do not require an artificial stimulus to trigger their impulses.

Although attributed to some medical conditions and medications, it has been suggested sex addiction is a mental health problem like bipolar disorder.

According to PsychCentral, sexual addiction can also be viewed as a dysfunctional adult response to character or emotional regulatory deficits. Sex addiction has been linked to early attachment disorders, abuse, and trauma.

A proposal was made to include a diagnosis called hypersexual disorder in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, the latest edition of the psychiatrist’s bible lists sex addiction as a condition that will require more research.

Some debate whether sex addiction actually exists. Still would-be sex addicts have posed the condition as the reason for their rampant infidelity. But researchers state that hypersexuality may just be caused by a high libido.

In a new study, hypersexual brains failed to respond to sexual images the same way that drug addicts’ brains responded to images of drugs. This led scientists to think the condition could just be a case of heightened sexual desire or libido, and not exist neurologically.

The research was published in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology. Fifty-two individuals, 13 of them females, were studied. Each were self-identified with sex addiction. Subjects claimed to have varying degrees of sexual preoccupation ranging from minor to overwhelming. They viewed sexually stimulating photographs while electroencephalography was collected.

The data “fail to provide support for models of pathological hypersexuality,” according to the paper.

Dr. Nicole Prause led the research. She is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, and a Research Scientist at the Mind Research Network.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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8 Responses to “Hypersexuality, Sex Addiction, Could Just Be High Libido”

  1. Rory Reid

    As the Principal Investigator for the DSM-5 Field Trial on Hypersexual Disorder that was submitted to the American Psychiatric Association, I respectfully disagree with the conclusions being drawn from the findings in this study conducted by my colleague Dr. Prause at UCLA (whose office incidentally is right next to mine here at UCLA) While her results are certainly interesting, they fall short of discounting the legitimacy of hypersexuality among treatment seeking patients. I’ve posted my critique of her study on my website: http://www.rory.net/Pages/PrauseCritque.html.

    Dr. Rory Reid
    Assistant Professor / Research Psychologist.
    UCLA Department of Psychiatry.