Episode 11: The Myth of Sex Addiction


Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. David Ley, author of The Myth of Sex Addiction, regarding the problems with the sex addiction treatment model and the conversations we should be having instead. He states that not only is this type of modality erroneous, but dangerous. They cover such issues as: How do shifting attitudes about sexuality force us to renegotiate how we see and define healthy sexuality? Why is sexual diversity easily pathologized? Why is it that there is not a single published study that sex addiction treatment makes a difference and yet treatment centers are growing in number at an alarming rate? Why are we abandoning people within a moral or social crisis, by focusing on things like a supposed pornography public health crisis? Are we aware that gay and bi men are three times as likely to be called "sex addicts?" Are we aware that the American Psychiatric Association has rejected the language of "sex addiction" for 40 years? Are we talking about the importance of sex education and regular dialogue? How can we help people explore morality in their sexuality as adults? How do we incorporate religious beliefs in ways that allow for normative sexuality? 

Dr. David Ley is a clinical psychologist in practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Ole Miss, and his Master's and Doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the University of New Mexico. Dr. Ley is the Executive Director of New Mexico Solutions, a large outpatient mental health and substance abuse program in Albuquerque, NM. Dr. Ley has been treating sexuality issues throughout his career. He first began treating perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse, but expanded his approach to include the fostering and promotion of healthy sexuality, and awareness of the wide range of normative sexual behaviors. Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them is his first book and won a Silver Medal in the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year contest for 2009. Dr. Ley wrote Insatiable Wives following two years of interviews with couples around the country. His controversial second book, The Myth of Sex Addiction was released in March 2012, challenging the concept of sexual addiction and exploring a different model of male sexuality. The Myth of Sex Addiction triggered a firestorm of debate, allowing people to finally challenge the media hype of this pseudo-disorder. 


*Dr. David Ley will be speaking in Salt Lake City giving an address called Beyond Porn Addiction on May 13 from 5-9 pm.*


Resources mentioned during the podcast:

Defining "Normophilic" and "Paraphilic" Sexual Fantasies in a Population-Based Sample: On the Importance of Considering Subgroups by Christian Joyal

Religious Tolerance which shares some of the history David Ley is talking about in regards to masturbation beliefs, including Swiss physician Tissot

Jason Winters (2010) published three studies on sex addiction, demonstrating that alleged sex addicts have as much (or as little) sexual self-control as anyone else, and that the identity of sex addict is predicated by a religious upbringing.

Grubbs, Hook, Griffin and Davis (2015) published a review of the paucity of outcome data on sex addiction treatment in Current Addiction Reports. Rory Reid also published a similar statement in: https://www.researchgate.net/…/254262906_Methodological_Rev…

Reid published this, showing that alleged sex addicts are perceived as having impulse control problems, but don't demonstrate them in actual testing: https://www.researchgate.net/…/227837568_A_Surprising_Findi…

Stulhofer published this article, demonstrating further information regarding that sex addiction identity is a moral conflict, not about actual sexual behaviors: https://www.researchgate.net/…/284022639_Is_High_Sexual_Des…

The Religious Institute


Other things mentioned during the podcast:

An Open Letter on Porn by John Gottman - 

Judith Reisman and her concepts of "erototoxins"  (not scientifically based)


Thank you to Jeff Meyers for the intro and Peter & Mary Danzig of Otter Creek Duo for the concluding bumper music. 


Natasha Helfer Parker runs a private practice in Wichita, KS and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith.  She also hosts the popular podcast, Mormon Mental Health.  


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