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UCLA Study Says Sex Addiction Isn't A Real Disorder

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A recent UCLA study suggests that sexual addiction isn't a real disorder and that people who think they have it don't need to go to "sex rehab."

It reportedly affects 16 million Americans. Celebs like Tiger Woods, Russell Brand, David Duchovny and Halle Berry's ex-husband, Eric Benet, all claimed to suffer from it, some of them even going to rehab for the so-called addiction. (And let's not forget Viggo Mortensen trying to sex up Sandra Bullock in 28 Days.)

In a recent study, UCLA scientist Nicole Prause monitored the brain activity of 39 men and 13 women while they were shown various erotic images, CBS News reports.

"If you think sexual problems are an addiction, we would have expected to see an enhanced response maybe to those sexual images. If you think it's a problem with impulsivity, we would have expected to see decreased responses to those sexual images. The fact that we didn't see any of those relationships suggests that there's not great support for looking at these sexual behaviors as an addiction," she said.

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Prause said she doesn't want to discourage people from seeking help, but believes there should be other treatment options beside "sex rehab."

"We want to urge caution and thoughtfulness in thinking about how to treat these types of sexual problems, and I don't think we have a good grasp yet of what exactly is going on," she said.

The American Psychiatric Association just excluded sex addiction as a condition in its newly released updated guide. "There was not sufficient evidence at this time to include sex addiction, not only in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) itself, but even in the index for further study, so there's high skepticism, I would say, around that idea," said Prause.

A WebMd article quotes Rory Reid, PhD, LCSW, a research psychologist at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior: "It is no more about sex than an eating disorder is about food or pathological gambling is about money."

He says that "sex addicts" often have underlying problems—like stress, anxiety, depression and shame—that drive their often risky sexual behavior.

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