Sex Addiction's Surprising Ties to Mental Illness

unmade bedWhen it comes to sex addiction, I'm guilty ... of rolling my eyes every time another celebrity uses it as a defense when he gets caught having an affair:

Boo-hoo, woe is me, I couldn't stop myself! I'm ... a sex addict!

Sure y'are, buddy. Everybody totally buys that excuse.

But it's not really fair for me (or anybody) to dismiss sex addiction as a made-up adultery Get Out of Jail Free card.

Especially considering that the condition is usually caused by an underlying disorder -- and it's tough to treat one without treating the other.

These are just a few of the mental illnesses linked to sex addiction:

Bipolar Disorder High-risk sexual activity can be symptomatic of manic states.

Borderline Personality Disorder Unsafe sex can be "part of a pattern" of self-harming behavior.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Sometimes seen in survivors of childhood sexual abuse, compulsive sexual behavior in these cases is a "subconscious attempt to gain control over their childhood trauma."

Dependent Personality Disorder Also known as "love addiction" (which I personally never heard about before Rachel Uchitel went on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew), love addicts apparently use sex to get "love."

Aspergers Syndrome "Out-of-control" sexual behavior is a common problem for men with Aspergers.

Have you ever known anyone with a sex addiction? Can you make any connections between these conditions and that person?

Do you think sex addiction is a form of mental illness?


Image via thien-kim/Flickr

mental health


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my2gi... my2girls0702

Yes, I do believe that sex addiction is a form of mental illness. 

nonmember avatar blh

You can still control yourself from humping everything in sight even if you have a mental illness. And I believe the vast majority of people use it an excuse.

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

I do believe in mental illness causing irrational and otherwise horrible behavior, but do I think that a Sex addiction is a real illness? No. 

Texas... TexasGirl512

I'm Bipolar and have experienced the hypersexuality associated with the disorder. My guess is that sex addiction isn't a separate disorder but rather a symptom associated with a disease like the ones listed in this article.

prplecat prplecat

Hmmm...I don't see "Horndog" on that list.

nonmember avatar rebelwolf625

I'm bipolar also and have to agree that the hyper sexual phases are likely to be seen as sex addiction. But I don't believe it's a separate illness of its own, no.

nonmember avatar Donna

I am bi polar and went thur this cycle. But I now take a med that kills my whole sex drive. So it keeps me from having the need to go have sex with random men.

SwePea SwePea

I believe someone can develop a problem with sex and porn but that doesn't mean I'll stay married to someone who "suffers" with sex addiction.

Bill Herring Lcsw


I'm both a therapist specializing in the treatment of compulsive sexual behavior and recovering sex addict. Various psychiatric syndromes definitely contribute to out-of-control sexual behavior, as you aptly stated, this is not always the case. Sex addicts rarely stop on their own, and it's not just celebrities who only admit that they aren't fully in control of their sexual choices once they are discovered/busted in some way. And it's not my experience that somebody uses the phrase "sex addict" as a way to deny responsibility, because to utter these words signs that person up for a lot of hard work. The business of real-world recovery is a long road of reconstruction and not a 'get out of jail' card by any means. I consider it my good fortune to be able to help others heal from the ravages of compulsive sexual behavior -- and I'm not just talking about the addict but also his or her devastated partner. There is no 'one size fits all' in this complex topic. But I absolutely want to affirm the many courageous men and women who have found their life in tatters and had the willingness to be honest with themselves and others,say "I need help", and then do the hard work of doing what it takes to turn their life around.

Eversnow Eversnow

I'm bipolar to and also have to agree with the hypersexuality. I don't think sex addiction is real but a symptom of something else.

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