I promised this review some time ago and I’m finally getting to it! I had a chance to finish reading David Ley’s book The Myth of Sex Addiction. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. Ley takes an objective look at how the concept of sex addiction has come about and the lack of actual scientific evidence to support it.
I agree with one of Ley’s key points. The creation of a psychological diagnosis is a complicated process that requires reliable criteria that supported scientifically with rigorous research. What the general public doesn’t seem to acknowledge is that there is no actual accepted diagnoses of sex addiction in the mental health or scientific community. On top of that, there is no reliable and consistent definition nor is there research to support such a definition.
In Ley’s words, “The concept of sex addiction reflects complex social, economic, and moral influences far more than it reflects the influence of science or medicine.” Ley goes on to say, “it is not my burden to prove that sex addiction doesn’t exist. Instead, the field of sex addiction must prove scientifically that it does exist.”
I also really resonate with Ley’s discussion about the connection between the idea of sex addiction and our societal views about masculinity. Sex addiction is overwhelming applied to men. Ley points out that ” The sex addiction label is, at least in part, an expression of fear and anger at the fact that males naturally have different sexual desires than women.”
Ley feels that the concept of sex addiction is an easy way for powerful males to excuse bad behavior. He suggest that instead, “When we overattend to sexuality, we lose sight of the issues of ethics, responsibility, dignity and leadership that we should address in our leaders and male role models.” And, “We must return to a focus on the positive qualities of men, including an acknowledgement of the unique aspects of male sexuality, and encourage, and even require, that men integrate their sexual desires within the framework of personal responsibility that is the hallmark of a true man.”
Ley makes a lot of other great points. The book is full of great research and facts about sexuality and desire. I heartily recommend it for anyone working with or an interest in sex and sexuality.