What's sex addiction - theoretically?

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Melbourne, Feb 23 (ANI): Psychiatrists are examining what is commonly referred to as sex addiction, a controversial and often misunderstood condition that has most recently garnered news media attention because of the travails of golfer Tiger Woods.

Sex addiction is not recognised by any official diagnosis in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), considered the definitive word on psychological disorders, reports the Courier Mail.

However, the term 'hypersexual disorder' is being proposed for the fifth edition of DSM, due out in 2012.

The proposal is being put forward by Dr Martin Kafka, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in the US, who says the disorder has been neglected for years.

He says it causes everything from marital dysfunction and divorce to increased risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

To be diagnosed with the disorder a patient would have to meet four of the following five criteria:

Spending a "great deal of time" consumed by sexual fantasies and urges.sing sexual behaviour to deal with stressful life events (or anxiety, depression, boredom or irritability).

Disregarding the "physical and emotional harm" to those involved.

Patients must have tried but failed to curb the behaviour.

Patients must have suffered distress and harm to their everyday life.

However, the controversial proposal has critics worrying that the criteria are too vague, and the chances for misdiagnosis and bogus pharmaceutical treatment are too great.

Dr Paul Fedoroff, director of the Sexual Behaviours Clinic at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, is a critic of Kafka's hypersexuality criteria.

He questions whether sex in response to stress is unhealthy, and what is meant by "a great deal of time" consumed by sexual fantasies.

But Dr Dan Zucker, of the University of Toronto, who heads a working group dealing with the next edition of DSM, expects "hypersexuality disorder" to be listed.

He admits the proposal is controversial but says the issue is about where to draw the line on what is normal, and what is not. (ANI)

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