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Wednesday, 18 Dec 2019

Sex Addiction and Hypersexuality: An Overview

By Dr Becky Spelman
Sex Addiction and Hypersexuality: An Overview | Private Therapy Clinic

Sex addiction is often written off as an indulgent behaviour and not as a real addiction. Because it’s something that we all engage in, it’s perceived as a poor excuse for lack of self-restraint. But there are consequences for being consumed by the act of sex. Like all addicts, the individual is stuck in a cycle they can’t break. It might appear to be a desirable situation for some people looking in from the outside. But it’s the result of deep-seated anguish. Definitely not something to be desired. Addiction to sex and hypersexuality are fully deserving of the same amount of concern we give to those with substance abuse issues and other, more accepted addictive tendencies.

What Causes Sex Addiction?

Like all addictions, it isn’t so much the sex that people are addicted to, but the hole it fills within them. Someone with an addictive personality is looking for something that will quell the hurt or the emotional lack they feel. And if it isn’t sex, it’ll be substance abuse and if not that, then some other form of compensatory behaviour will take over, instead.

Addiction is a universal condition linked with deep-rooted emotional instabilities and other dysfunctional influences early on in childhood. Research has shown there is a far greater chance that a sex addict will be the product of dysfunctional family unit, and also to have been the victim of abuse. One study found 82% of participants questioned about their problem had suffered abuse as a child, and 80% reported a history of addiction within their family.

Types of Sex Addiction

Being addicted to sex isn’t a singular condition. But actually, has several associated behavioural disorders, which comes underneath it as an umbrella term. These are:

Hypersexuality – This is characterised by the preoccupation of sexual fantasy and unending promiscuous sex.

Erotomania – A state of delusion in which the individual believes everyone is infatuated with them.

Paraphilia-related disorders – Relates to the sexualisation of inanimate objects for arousal.

Sexual Disinhibition – This is defined best by people who either expose themselves in public or make inappropriate advances.

Signs and Symptoms

Given the stigma that surrounds addiction to sex as a legitimate mental health issue, it isn’t cited within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) at present. That means an official list of symptoms isn’t available to the public.

However, there have been enough cases of sex addiction where an individual has received successful treatment that an archetypal set of symptoms is now immerging. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms:

  • Sex will take priority over all activities (including work and family)
  • There is a strong inclination toward masturbation when sex can’t be engaged in.
  • The individual may have an interest in cybersex, sex lines and pornography.
  • There is a complete disregard for monogamy.
  • An addict may have multiple partners and many more than two.
  • They might engage in riskier sex to satisfy their urges.
  • After sex, there will often be feelings of regret, shame and loneliness.

About the author:

Dr Becky Spelman PhD is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.

***If you’re struggling with sex addiction and think you might benefit from speaking to someone about your situation, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.


Very Well Mind. (13thNov 2019). Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction. Retrieved on 15th November, 2019 from,

Psych Central. (4th Jan 2018). Anorexia Nervosa. Retrieved on 15th November, 2019 from,

The Priory Group. (2018). What are the symptoms of sex and love addiction? Retrieved on 15th November, 2019 from,

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