Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I can't not choke on it

This is an excellent article about "sex addiction" and simultaneously takes us through an interesting, anecdotal history of abnormal psychology. Early on it begins:

The modern notion that you can be "addicted" to sex, or to any behavior—like eating, shopping, gambling, or texting—has been in ascendance among scientists only for the past quarter-century.

It summarizes a history of changing theoretical viewpoints pretty well with:

(The modern take on addiction is that it is) a reversal of Freud's formulation from more than a century ago. We used to see drug abuse as a psychological problem—like compulsive masturbation. Now, with our advanced knowledge of the brain, we're starting to see compulsive masturbators as victims of a disease, like drug addicts.

And it addresses current controversies in the conclusion:

When it comes to compulsive sexual behavior, the professionals have their own ambivalence, which plays out as a question of semantics rather than aesthetics: The community argues over the inclusion of behavioral addictions—or even the word addiction itself—in the next version of the DSM. Some argue that the euphemistic use of dependence has done little to eliminate the stigma associated with the condition. Others see the medicalization of behavior—sexual or otherwise—as a form of social control.

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