Friday, July 5, 2013

Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnostic criteria most commonly used by those who treat sexual addiction are similar to those applied to chemical dependance. They include:

  • Loss of Control. Clear behaviors that go further then intended, such as having unprotected sex, meeting someone as opposed to just talking to them online, and having sex in dangerous conditions, such as with a coworker in the office storage area during business hours.
  • Compulsive Behaviors. A pattern of out-of-control behaviors over time, such as masturbating to the point of pain or injury.
  • Efforts to Stop. Failed attempts to stop the behaviors, such as broken promises to self and others, or bargaining with oneself, (e.g., "I will only flirt with someone at the bar instead of having sex"). 
  • Losses. Significant losses due to engaging in behaviors related to acting out sexually (e.g., sacrificing hobbies, commitments, and financial, career, and family obligations; not meeting deadlines; or forgetting special occasions).
  • Preoccupation. Obsessing about behaviors, leaving the addict disengaged or disconnected from the present moment. This allows for emotional numbing but will never provide or promote personal intimacy or connection with others.
  • Progression. The need to make the behavior more intense, frequent, or risky. Like an alcoholic, the sex addict will reach a threshold or plateau that needs to be amplified in order to maintain the desired high.
  • Continued behavior despite negative consequences. The inability to stop a behavior that creates problems, including legal, physical, financial, or relational problems. The addict is usually in a great deal of denial as to the extent to which his addiction has permeated his life.
  • Withdrawal. Stopping behavior causes physical and/or emotional discomfort or distress, including mood swings, depression, irritability, headaches, nausea, dissociation, interrupted sleep patterns, anxiety, or intrusive thoughts.

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