Current Topics in Sexual Compulsivity Research
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Current Topics in Sexual Compulsivity Research
This is a collection of research findings, trends and controversies related to the type of problematic sexual behavior in which a person is unable to stop or control certain sexual behaviors despite a desire to do so.  This site is likely to be of primary interest to researchers, mental and sexual health professionals, and those with an academic interest in the topic.  
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The "Emperor Has No Clothes" Controversy

A controversy erupted in 2014 regarding the notion of pornography addiction.  Here is the chronology and source material.

Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT's insight:

In February 2014 an artice appeared in the journal Current Sexual Health Reports titled "The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Review of the Pornography Addiction Model".  The authors, David Ley, Nicole Prause and Peter Finn, were extremely critical of the concept of porn addiction, stating in part:

"The theory and research behind ‘pornography addiction’ is hindered by poor experimental designs, limited methodological rigor, and lack of model specification.......Individuals reporting ‘addictive’ use of visual sexual stimuli could be better conceptualized by considering issues such as gender, sexual orientation, libido, desire for sensation, with internal and external conflicts influenced by religiosity and desire discrepancy.......When faced with such complaints, clinicians are encouraged to address behaviors without conjuring addiction labels."

Note that this was a 'review' article, not a research article, which makes it more susceptible to the bias of its authors.  Their condemnation was sweeping, criticizing the use of any compoent of addiction theory to help people with out-of-control use of online pornography.  The authors challenged almost every notion that viewing online pornography can reach unhealthy levels for some people who find it difficult to stop or control despite their use negative consequences and a sincere desire. to do so.  However, the authors raised some arguments deserving of thoughtful discussion.  

The publishing company of the journal that printed this article released an accompanying press release about this review, in which it appears that the authors enthusiastically praise the positive benefits of pornography. They seemed to only grudgingly admit that some people "struggle" regulating their online porn use.  The relative reluctance to acknowledge problematic use of pornography, especially by David Ley, and the contention that unrestricted access to porn actually reduces rates of child molestation seems tenuous and counterintuitive. Prause seems more willing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the phenomena of dysregulated sexual behavior, a concept Ley rejects out of hand.  Prause co-wrote an article in Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology in the summer of 2013 (curated elsewhere on this site) that garnered a lot of attention among people interested in this topic. 

In March 2014, the rebuttal came in the form of an article entitled "The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Fractured Fairy Tale Posing as a Review" , which appeared on the website  It was a hard-hitting, lengthy, point-by-point rebuttal to Ley, Prause and Finn. It is well worth reading, even though it unfortunately also stooped occasionally to a demeaning emotional tone that undercuts its potent arguments.  This rebuttal did  not list authorship, which is unusual. 
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Critque of Prause Study

Critque of Prause Study | Current Topics in Sexual Compulsivity Research |

" at its foundation does not address the issue of whether individuals seeking help for sex addiction, hypersexuality, etc. are experiencing a legitimate problem. It asks whether an addiction theory is the best explanation for this problem or whether there are alternative explanations that help us better understand this phenomenon. That’s it! "


Bill Herring LCSW, CSAT's insight:

Curator comment:  Amid a torrent of commentary that has generally been casting more heat than light on the subject, this comprehensive analysis of the recent research article that has been garnering so much attention over the last few days (see the curation and commentary) is a welcome addition to the conversation.

Gary Wilson's comment, August 20, 2013 11:15 AM
This Rory Reid "critique," is actually a veiled defense of the Nicole Prause study, and much of it responds to grave concerns we raised in this post: "UCLA's SPAN Lab Touts Empty Porn Study As Ground-Breaking" -
Unfortunately, Reid's critique does not adequately address the concerns we raised, as explained in this reply post "Rory Reid Reply & Our Response."