In the first study of its kind, a group of researchers recently tried to pin down whether neural responses to sexual imagery could be predicted based on symptoms of hypersexuality, a major step in determining whether sex can be seen as addictive in the same way heroin or nicotine are.
For the experiment, 39 men and 13 women who reported having difficulty controlling how often they viewed porn looked at both sexual and non-sexual images designed to evoke pleasant and unpleasant feelings, a design similar to studies that show addicts image cues of the drugs they crave and study their brains' response.
Meanwhile, electroencephalography (EEG), those weird-looking scalp hook-ups, measured the neurons firing in their brain. Addiction researchers focus on the brain's activity 300 milliseconds after the picture pops up, called the P300, because the brain's electrical response to stimuli tends to peak then. Increased P300 responses are associated with addiction.
However, the study found that there was no relationship between P300 and hypersexual measures. "Brain response was only predicted by a measure of sexual desire," study author Nicole Prause told Psychology Today. "In other words, hypersexuality does not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response any more than just having a high libido."
The data "fail to provide support for models of pathological hypersexuality," the researchers write in the paper. Prause went on to explain that this "suggests that hypersexuality explains nothing in particular about brain responses to erotica," or that possibly the relationship between the two is too small to see with EEG.
Since this is the first study to measure neural reactivity to sexual images, the authors maintain that the results will need to be replicated and extended before we can throw the term "sex addiction" out the window.
The full paper is published this week in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology.
"Sex Addict" should have been thrown away years ago when the term was first introduced, anyone with any sense should have said:
"Sex Addiction" is a mislabeling of some "other" problem, a problem with society. Yeah, some or these people have issues I'm sure, but whats really going on here is "culturally unacceptable promiscuity". These people are willing and able by virtue of looks/money/power to have sex more often and with more people then is deemed "Acceptable" by our current cultural norms.
But IMO if we all weren't a bunch of prudes, ALL of us would be having sex all the time. But we stop ourselves because of fear, shame, loyalty, religion, etc.. We have trained ourselves to NOT pursue sex when we want it... so maybe THEY aren't the people with problems.
Seriously think about it, how many times a day have you looked at someone and secretly thought about having sex with them?
Well, the idea of shunning promiscuity definitely carried with it a measurable survival benefit (for humanity as a whole) before the advent of cheap/effective birth control.
So it's not exactly strange that it would have become the accepted view.
It could conceivably be argued that it still carries benefit today as strict gender roles become less prominent.