World Health Organisation WHO declares sex addiction a mental disorder – and this is what it means

World Health Organisation WHO declares sex addiction a mental disorder – and this is what it means

Previously sexual addiction is now considered a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder and this new classification could mean that people may get the help they need.

The World Health Organisation has released its new International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (IDC). The IDC captures factors that influence or health, and/or external causes of mortality and morbidity, it also provides a “holistic look at every aspect of life that can affect health”. Furthermore, the IDC defines, “the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions,” as stated on the WHO website.

The IDC11 which is the latest edition of the IDC now classifies sexual addiction under mental health disorders as a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder. The IDC11 defines the condition as “by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour.” A person needs to be suffering from the condition for more than 6 months for them to be classified as suffering from the disorder. Other factors that are taken into consideration include:

According to Psych Central, sex addiction can be defined as “a progressive intimacy disorder characterised by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts”. However, the WHO now classifies it as a mental health disorder.

Clinical sexologist Catorina Bafford explains that the new classification means sex addiction no longer exists, “As per the new classifications, compulsive sexual behaviour disorder is an impulse disorder, and not considered an addiction.”

She further explains that this disorder is diagnosed when a person fails to control their “sexual impulses, urges and behaviour, and one’s sexual activities start to become the main focus of one’s life”.

Catorina says that the disorder can lead an individual to disregard other areas, such as relationships, personal care, work etc. “There would likely be many adverse consequences to such behaviour, and previous attempts to reduce this behaviour would have been unsuccessful,” she adds.

Sharon Rosten who works with people dealing with sex addiction says that treatment for people who are dealing with what was known as sex addiction has always been available.

Treatment involves “individual therapy, process group therapy (which is a therapy group of five to 10 individuals who meet to share their problems and concerns with a trained professional), in-patient rehabilitation, 12 step groups and medication.”

Sharon also adds that “sex addiction” manifests itself differently in different people. Some people act out the behaviour by constantly masturbating, doing sex work, pornography, and/or infidelity.

Catorina hopes that the new IDC-11 classification of sex addiction will mean that “people’s experiences of sexual compulsivity won’t be overlooked or undervalued” and the narrative around compulsive sexual behaviour disorders will change and better understood.

With prominent people like Jada Pinkett Smith and Russell Brand in previous years openly speaking about their battle and struggles with this disorder more people will realise that “sex addiction” is not an excuse for “bad behaviour”.

  • repetitive sexual activities becoming a central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities;
  • numerous unsuccessful efforts to significantly reduce repetitive sexual behaviour;
  • and continued repetitive sexual behaviour despite adverse consequences or deriving little or no satisfaction from it.

In a recent episode of Red Talk Table, Jada Smith opened up about her sex addiction when she was younger. She believed that sex could fix everything and was fixated on it as a result.

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