hypersexuality

Elizabeth's picture

Hypermedicalization Disorder

I've been reading the sexuality-related proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Assocation and I'm troubled. In the move from DSM-IV to DSM-V It seems that larger and larger realms of sexual expression are falling under the rubric of psychiatric disorder. This is the wrong approach to the difficulties people have with sex.

My reading started with the newly proposed diagnosis "Hypersexual Disorder" because a reader asked me if I intended to post about it. The new diagnosis is a response to the increasing use of the loosly defined and largely bogus label "sex addict." The American Psychiatric Association subcommittee that put this new diagnosis together says, in its rationale statement:

There is a significant clinical need, even a “demand” from mental health consumers, for mental health providers to recognize and diagnose a distinct group of men and women who have been seeking and are already receiving mental health care such as individual psychotherapy, 12-step group support, pharmacotherapy, and specialized residential treatments. These men and women are presenting to clinicians because of recurrent, “out of control” sexual behaviors that are not inherently socially deviant (i.e., normophilic, not paraphilic). Persons afflicted with these conditions are currently diagnosed as Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, a diagnostic wastebasket that the DSM-V editors would like to see diminished in scope. Clinical and research-based interest in this set of problematic nonparaphilic sexual behaviors is sufficiently established to have birthed a peer-reviewed journal published since 1990 dedicated exclusively to research and treatment of “sexual addiction/ compulsivity.”

This, on its own, is troubling. The diagnostic criteria are even more troubling. Direct from the DSM-V Revision site, here are the criteria:

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