Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Is sexual addiction the real deal?

Researchers have measured how the brain behaves in "hypersexual" people who have problems regulating their viewing of sexual images.

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Controversy exists over what some mental health experts call "hypersexuality," or sexual "addiction." Namely, is it a mental disorder at all, or something else? It failed to make the cut in the recently updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, considered the bible for diagnosing mental disorders. Yet sex addiction has been blamed for ruining relationships, lives and careers.

Now, for the first time, UCLA researchers have measured how the brain behaves in so-called hypersexual people who have problems regulating their viewing of sexual images. The study found that the brain response of these individuals to sexual images was not related in any way to the severity of their hypersexuality but was instead tied only to their level of sexual desire.

In other words, hypersexuality did not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response any more than simply having a high libido, said senior author Nicole Prause, a researcher in the department of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

"Potentially, this is an important finding," Prause said. "It is the first time scientists have studied the brain responses specifically of people who identify as having hypersexual problems."

The study appears in the current online edition of the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

University of California - Los Angeles