The American Psychiatric Association does not currently recognize sex addiction as a mental illness. Therefore, no official diagnostic criteria exist for sex addiction.
The APA does, however, have classifications that are helpful for understanding sexual behavior disorders. These disorders are called paraphilias. The most common include:
- Pedophilia an adult’s sexual attraction toward children
- Exhibitionism sexual excitement associated with exposing one’s genitals in public
- Voyeurism sexual excitement from watching an unsuspecting person
- Sexual masochism sexual excitement from being the recipient of inflicted or threatened pain
- Sexual sadism sexual excitement from threatening or administering pain
- Transvestic fetishism sexual excitement from wearing the clothing of the opposite sex
- Frotteurism sexual excitement from touching or fondling an unsuspecting person
All of these disorders are characterized by recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors involving:
- Non-human objects
- The suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, children or other nonconsenting persons
- Clinically significant distress in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning caused by the behavior, sexual urges or fantasies.
Sex addiction may include some obsessions and behavior caused by these disorders. Usually what is described as sex addiction, however, involves conventional, or nonparaphiliac, sexual behaviors that, when taken to an extreme, like alcohol, can interfere with daily functioning and produce guilt, shame and recurrent harm to oneself or others.
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- Understanding More About Sexual Addiction
Mark S. Gold, M.D., and Drew W. Edwards, M.S. contributed to this article.