Drugs, alcohol, and gambling are some of the topics people discuss when talking about addiction. When people obsess over alcohol, we call them alcoholics. When they gamble, we call them gamblers. When they use a lot of drugs, we call them drug addicts. What about the people who are excessively involved in sexual activities? They can be called sex addicts or, in a more clinical term, people who suffer from compulsive sexual behavior. Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) is an obsession with sexual thoughts, urges, and behaviors that can cause distress and negatively affect your health, similar to other addictions.
CSB subjects reported 25.49% of their time spent online watching porn, while healthy individuals spend on average only 4.4%. This obsession causes one to behave differently in the workplace and to be more aggressive towards one’s partner. To compare the differences between participants with and without CSB, a study was conducted to examine the brain and its correlation to sexual behavior. The subjects were exposed to sexually explicit videos, and they were told to score their sexual desire. While they were watching the videos, researchers were examining their brain activity. They then (analyze the results) to show the correlation between one’s sexual desires and the activity of the brain.
In CSB subjects, higher scores of sexual desires corresponded to a greater or stronger activation in the part of the brain which also triggers addiction to drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. The study suggests that CSB subjects perform sexual activities because they are highly motivated to do so, but are not necessarily enjoying it. This behavior is similar to that of a drug addict, who indulges excessively in drugs not necessarily because it gives them pleasure, but because the motivation to use the drug is too strong. Ages also plays a role in CSB; it is believed that those who are younger are more likely to be influenced by this behavior. Sometimes, doing it doesn’t equal to liking it. Using drugs doesn’t mean one is addicted to it, and performing excessive sexual activities doesn’t mean one is enjoying it, but these behaviors have a huge effect on one’s daily life.
Reference: Voon V, Mole TB, Banca P, Porter L, Morris L, et al. (2014) Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102419. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102419