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Sex addiction IS an illness, doctors insist

  • Specialists pushing for compulsive sexual behaviour to be classed as disorder 
  • Proposals sent to World Psychiatric Association condemned by campaigners
  • The End Violence Against Women charity ‘absolutely object’ to the move
  • Opponents fear predators will evade responsibility by claiming they were ill 

Calls to classify sex addicts as ‘mentally ill’ have triggered a row among doctors and campaigners helping victims of predators like Harvey Weinstein.

Eleven senior specialists, in a letter to the World Psychiatric Association, are pressing for compulsive sexual behaviour to be recognised as a mental disorder in its own right.

But the proposal was last night condemned by those who fear it will allow sexual misconduct to be blamed on a medical condition. Rachel Krys, from the charity End Violence Against Women, said: ‘We absolutely object to anything that condones harmful sexual behaviour to others, mainly women.’

Campaigners trying to help the victims of predators such as Harvey Weinstein have criticised moves to class sex addiction as an illness 

And Dr Harriet Garrod, a consultant psychologist from Bexhill in East Sussex, said: ‘This could allow those in question to evade full responsibility for their actions by saying they were “ill” at the time.’

There has been a fierce debate within the psychiatric community over whether compulsive sexual behaviour should be recognised as an illness.

The condition is defined as being unable to control intense sexual impulses or urges and engaging in repetitive sexual behaviour for six months or more that ‘causes marked distress or impairment’ to sufferers and those around them.

Affairs: Tiger Woods and his ex-wife Elin Nordegren. Woods has sought help for so-called sex addiction 

Affairs: Tiger Woods and his ex-wife Elin Nordegren. Woods has sought help for so-called sex addiction 

Weinstein, actor Kevin Spacey and golfer Tiger Woods – who had a string of extra-marital affairs – have sought treatment for so-called sex addiction at a £25,000-a-month rehab centre. But the American Psychiatric Association has refused to recognise it as an illness.

The letter to the World Psychiatric Association was signed by nearly a dozen leading lights in the profession, including Dr Valerie Voon, a neuropsychiatrist at Cambridge University.

It demands that sex addiction be included in the next edition of the International Classification Of Diseases, a ‘bible’ of recognised conditions that is used by doctors all over the world.

The letter states: ‘Growing evidence suggests compulsive sexual behaviour disorder is an important clinical problem with potentially serious consequences if left untreated.’



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