January 29, 2010

The benefits of mindfulness

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:19 am

January 27, 2010

I might need to wait until summer to wear this

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:06 am

January 26, 2010

Let’s go sideways

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 9:02 am

While my primary interest for this blog is to put my own take on life out there, I find I am often doing this by starting with something I disagree with.  So negative.

Therefore, I shall express more of my own thoughts, outside the context of negatively reacting to someone else.  I shall do this by stealing webcomics.

This illustrates a recent parenting theme I have been exploring with my kids.  While focusing on meditation, compassion, loving kindness, problem solving, interdependence etc. as the most important thing, there are times when you need to dislocate someone’s jaw with a well-placed hook.  Knowing the difference is the tricky part.

January 25, 2010

uhhh, thanks?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:09 pm

Returning to Beirut has made it possible to reconnect with old friends.  This has generally been very positive.  In some cases, I’m not quite sure what to make of the commentary.  Keeping in mind that culturally appropriate greetings often don’t translate well, I’ve been left wondering about the intentions of the following folks:

Person A:  It’s so good to see you again.  You’ve lost so much weight, I didn’t even recognize you!


Person B:  You’ve lost a lot of weight, really!


Person C:  He looks like a proper rugby player; not like you…

For the record, I’ve 12 pounds (at most…  (technically, this is about 6% of my body weight)) .

January 22, 2010

Once more with feeling

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:32 pm

My last few epic posts have clearly illustrated I need to work on brevity.  Perhaps I should confine myself to thoughts that would fit in a haiku?  In any case, I’d like to take another stab at persuading you all on the happiness/pleasure issue.   Please post your thoughts on the following:

Which feeling is more pleasant:

A)     The sense of supreme happiness offered by the religion/ethics of your choice


B)      The competing pleasures which would prevent you from attaining that happiness

January 20, 2010

Filthy Hedonist

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:55 am

Why the Church Lady Has it Wrong

In my world view, I have come to expect folks who believe themselves to be religious/ethical to speak of the difference between pleasure and happiness.  Typically, the notions are constructed to illustrate that pleasure is inferior to happiness, and people who behaving differently than us are going the wrong way.  Often this is expressed as pleasure < happiness.  Sometimes they will go so far as to construct pleasure = bad.  Eating a piece of cheese cake would bring you pleasure but not happiness.  It doesn’t take long for this gap to be turned into a gulf.

I assert this perspective is a mistake.  To illustrate this, let’s cast the argument in terms of ultimate results and use a very basic case study. I could gather a much debt as possible, spend all my resources, and buy a new Ferrari, which I would find quite pleasurable. 

However, I understand that the end results of this action will ultimately be unpleasant.  I am convinced that saving prudently for retirement, managing my money well, and so forth, will ultimately bring about greater pleasure than purchasing the Ferrari.  Delayed gratification and prudence bring about a circumstance that I will enjoy more than instant gratification. 

Most folks will accept this.  Future pleasure > present pleasure.

Goes God Enjoy Being Happy?

The key distinction lies in the reality that happiness itself is pleasurable.  In fact, it is asserted (and I accept) that happiness brings about more pleasure than any other competing pleasure I can think of.

If happiness and pleasure are really the same thing (pleasant experiences) why do people think they are different?  In my view, this stems more from cultural bias in the Western.  Eastern world views tend not to separate these concepts. 

In the West, I think we get hung up on some pleasant experiences being labeled as bad (carnal pleasures) and some being labeled as good (pleasant feelings that arise when gazing on your baby).  The bifurcation of pleasure and happiness is a proxy of this separation. 

A good illustration of this can be seen in the typical reactions to Utilitarian ideas on what constitutes the definition of ‘good’ :  Promotion of pleasure and reduction of pain.

Hangovers are not pleasant

At that time, people viewed this as equating noble humans with base animals.  Folks reflexively thought Utilitarians were talking about rooting around in instantaneous gratification of physical desires.  In fact, this was a misunderstanding of the point.  The pleasantness of solving an extremely difficult math problem, composing a symphony, acting in an altruistic way, fulfilling duty, etc. all bring about superior pleasantness to the competing alternatives.  Even the most severe ascetic endures their suffering because they believe it is bringing about a superior result (enlightenment, atonement, eternal life with God, etc. etc.).

Does God Enjoying Being Happy More Than Satan Enjoys Being Whateverheis?

 This comparison is actually the more apt measure.  The virtue is not avoiding the pursuit of pleasure. 

The virtue is in undertaking actions which will lead to the greatest pleasure. 

Happiness is considered the superior goal because it is understood to be more pleasant than the competing pleasures being evaluated. 

Have I Got a Deal for You!

The same structure holds for many of the forms of sacrifice being promoted.  All these are represented as being actions which will bring about a more pleasant end.  Forsaking blah and blah will receive 100 fold in the kingdom, etc. etc. 

Assuming for a moment that we have already established that the offer is genuine, it is extremely rare (I can’t think of one example), in which parishioners are asked to undertake an unpleasant action for which there is not an attendant, profitable (in the sense of more pleasant than the sacrifice was unpleasant) reward promised.

For those religousers who might not be brought around yet, let’s consider another illustration.  Unlike some worldviews, Christians in particular don’t hold with the popular saying: 

Life’s a bitch and then you die.  The end. 

Instead, it is replaced with things like:  Do X and you will receive Y, which is superior to what you might already want to do.  Patiently push through A and you will get B which is better than the alternative. 

Particularly in Christian philosophy, suffering, sacrifice, etc. are almost always (I want to say always) couched in terms of ultimately receiving a reward which will be more pleasant than what you gave up to become eligible.

Being Christian is Ultimately More Pleasant (Supposedly)

Therefore, the idea that the pursuit of pleasure is inferior to the pursuit of happiness misses the reality that the same religions represent happiness to be the supreme pleasure.  It is an argument of which pleasure is best, not pleasure being inferior to (or different than) happiness in and of itself.

January 19, 2010

A bit of clean up

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:28 pm

The arc on the use of the term addiction has been a lot of fun for me, but doesn’t seem to have been as engaging for the rest of you as I thought it would be. That being the case, I’ll wrap up by addressing some of the excellent comments that were made. I believe Cris would be next with her assertion that converts would be more susceptible to such addictions.

That may well be true. Intuitively, I’m inclined to agree. That being said, the specific groups I’ve seen most obsessed by this subject tend to be the life-long members. Even if all the converts were legitimate porn addicts, it could not possibly account for the levels claimed by the religious leaders make their dire warnings.

In addition, we had the following from Terra:

From what I understand about addiction in regards to a chemical reaction, it is that when someone is addicted to a substance or in this case an activity there is a neurological reaction that results in a release of dopamine. I would say that in order for a behavior such as alcoholism or the viewing of pornography to qualify as an addiction first it would have to be ascertained whether or not dopamine was being released in quantity.

I’m a little reluctant to take a purely medical view of addiction as a mechanism. I think we are better off establishing what behavioral results should be considered an addiction and working back from there. You bring up a fascinating line of inquiry, but I think effectively discussing it would take a lot of space.

January 17, 2010

At the coast

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Fatherhood #2

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:04 pm

Kid looks at their parents to model relationships. It’s long known that the way the father treats the mother leads sets their context for their own expectations. With that in mind, I had to think quickly this morning when Star came to me all dressed up in scarves and other such things. She looked over at me, and with a fancified voice said:

Look at this stylish scarf, do I look like a teacher, or a mother?

Now, I presume that she considers looking stylish to be a good thing (although that is debatable as a message). I don’t want to send a message that being a teacher is somehow worse than being a mother, or that mothers/teachers would be more or less stylish. However, I think mothers tend to get a bad rap, particularly on these counts, so I smiled and answered: Like a mother, definitely!

I want her to realize that mothers can be stylish, but I don’t want her to think that non-stylish mothers are somehow not good mothers. Any suggestions on how that question could have been better answered in a way that a six-year old would understand?

January 16, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:41 pm

This morning while getting ready for school I had the following exchange:

Star (walking out the door, yelling back over her shoulder) :  Dad, when I get home, I want you to explain why some babies have penises and some have vaginas.

Me:  OK!


At least she is giving me fair warning =)

January 15, 2010

What a pleasant surprise

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:33 am

As happens from time to time, I got spam bombed by comment spam this morning. As I was going through the comment buffer, I noticed the comment on the previous post by Paul. I am going to combine this with the questions raised by Art, because I think the answers intertwine beautifully. I shall also pull segments from Paul’s comment to illustrate.

In this victim centered society we now live in I believe it is very easy for individuals to excuse sinful personal choices they have made to an “addiction.”

I profoundly agree with this. I have seen this effect personally, and enough qualified research that I feel comfortable asserting that the data is clear; people have a tendency to externalize their actions by categorizing it as an addiction. This directly relates to Art’s earlier question: “That aside, please clarify for me what the negative effect is in your view of misslabeling as addicted those that are not.”


This is the first problem arising from misuse of the term that I would like to illustrate. It actually reduces the capacity of the person to overcome their pathological behavior when the promulgation of the term “addiction” creates dissociation from the problem. Paul’s comment eloquently illustrates this.

To keep some logical consistency, I’m going to continue with some other negative side-effects of this mislabeling before returning to the main arc of Paul’s thought. My second concern with misuse of the term is counter-productivity. Social research has been very clear that when persuading people not to engage in a given behavior, casting it in terms of: “This is horrible, so many people are doing it, if we don’t change, the results will be really bad” actually results in an increased rate of the behavior.


Theorists have postulated that this effect is associated with the human tendency to align ourselves with our immediate group. From an anecdotal perspective, I’ve been in congregations where the speaker has said:

‘Look around you, if you are not struggling with pornography addiction, then the person sitting next to you is. You need to realize how prevalent this terrible thing is and avoid it.”

This is exactly the sort of argument that would produce the opposite effect the speaker was going for. Later on, I will address the probability that the addiction rate was really so high, but merely from a meta-discourse angle, this is a terrible way to go about encouraging the behavior you wish to promote.


I think my next argument will tend not be persuasive to the devout, but here it goes. Further to my thesis that the term addiction is being wildly misapplied in this community, I’ve seen frequent incidences where very occasional use of porn is labeled as an addiction. Something along the lines of looking at 1 playboy every 4 months makes you an addict. Now, there is no question that this particular community considers that a sin, and I have no interest at present in addressing that. I’ll stipulate it is a sin. The assertion that this level of porn use constitutes an addiction depends on a number of assertions. One of which is that the negative consequences of that this level of porn use qualifies as a pathology.

I would imagine nearly every Mormon reading this is nodding their heads vigorously and saying: Yep! Sure is!

I’d like to side-step from that to point out what the zero tolerance policy of Mormonism is based on (I’m probably leaving some out by accident).

  1. Any porn is spiritually destructive and incompatible with holding the priesthood
  2. Any Porn use can lead to worse things

#1 is an argument from faith. Nothing inherently wrong with that, but this is very different than the clinical definition of addiction. As Paul points out, visit an actual addiction center to level-set yourself. Virtually none of the folks in that congregation were at a level of clinical addiction. Many, maybe even half were struggling with behavior their religion calls sin (although I doubt it). If anything, this level of behavior is much more similar to what a clinician would call an impulse control disorder.

With regard to #2, that is certainly true, but this is true of many things. For example, some studies have shown that vigorous exercise can be as addictive as heroin. Personally, I think that scholarship is suspect, but I’m going to use it here because it suits my point, I find it funny, and I hope you will not question my sources. =)  The probability of infrequent porn use leading to pathologically bad, life-destroying addicition is my main point.  On a smell-test level, the data just isn’t there to support the culturally-held Mormon view on porn.

I also find it interesting that part of the meta-discourses of Mormonism is the adage ‘moderation in all things’. However, from an outside perspective, Mormonism tends to completely outlaw things that have even a small chance of being addictive. That’s a topic for another time.

 For now, I will stipulate that #2 is true by strict definition, but I would challenge the TBM audience to the following exercise. After the type of anti-porn lesson I am describing here, we will pass out a slip of paper to all the folks in the audience. We will then ask them to write down what they think the probability is that occasional porn use will lead to life-destroying effects. We will then take the statistical distribution of those answers and compare them to actual data. How many of you think the predicted median rate will match the actual observed rate by less than 1 standard deviation?

Improper ‘treatment’

The study and treatment of addiction has made a lot of progress in the last 100 years. There are much improved methods for dealing with these issues. 12 step programs are well-known (which include ample reference to higher powers). I think that this is an excellent illustration of Paul’s comment that addiction is often closely related to filling a spiritual void. Intuitively, I think he is right, but off hand, I don’t know of any research to back it. I suspect this audience will be willing to accept it as a given.

That being said, the speed with which untrained folks label their sins and/or impulse control issues to be an addiction is closely followed by a tendency to see the actual treatment for addiction (12 step programs for example) as the appropriate antidote for their sin. From my observation, Mormons tend to be dualistic here. They will keep going with their religious principles and try to bring in 12 step programs to supplement that. That’s probably a good move. However, sending 16 year old Johnny to a sex addicts 12 step progam because he looked at 2 playboys a year is much more likely to create a net worse situation than a net better situation.

These programs are for actual addictions, not sins with faith-based pathologies. Now, this argument will only gain traction with you if I have already convinced you the pathology level has been mis-identified. I suspect most LDSers are not persuaded. That being the case, I would again encourage folks who have yet clicked to go here to read a professional’s view on the harms of over-use of 12 step programs to treat non-addictions.

Loss of Credibility

I suspect that of all my arguments, the next one might be most persuasive to an LDSer. Folks just aren’t doing the math. In my experience, the villianization of porn leads folks to make some quite outlandish statements on the likely pathology of porn. As an aside, I have noticed a distinct trend from official church sources to avoid this in the last few years. More and more they are moving to a spiritually based argument rather than a pathologically based one. I think that is appropriate.

Anyway, back to my story telling. A typically anti-porn lesson will go something like this:

  • Porn is bad
  • Porn is terribly addictive
  • Huge numbers of LDSers are addicted of porn (hard numbers are rare, so let’s go with the 50% from earlier).
  • Porn will wreck your marriage, increase chances of becoming a child molester, etc. etc.

Again, this is taught less and less by authoritative LDS sources (in my opinion) but is widely promulgated in congregations (in my experience). My problem is that the math doesn’t add up. To illustrate this, I shall borrow from one of my favorite libertarian bloggers on similarly nutty assertions about crystal meth:

Here are their numbers, copied right from the site:

• 1 in 7 high school students will try meth.
• 99 percent of first-time meth users are hooked after just the first try.
• Only 5 percent of meth addicts are able to kick it and stay away.
• From the first hit to the last breath, the life expectancy of a habitual
meth user is only 5 years.

So 14.3% (1 in 7) try meth, 99% of those who try are hooked, and 95% of those hooked stay hooked, and all of those hooked die in five years. So .143 x .99 x .95 or 13.45% of all kids are dying on average by the age of 23. Wow. There must be a really huge conspiracy out there to cover up all these deaths. Given that there are about 17,000,000 high school age kids, that means that in the next 5 years or so nearly 2.3 million of them are going to die. And adults who run anti-drug programs wonder why kids don’t take their warnings seriously.

When a church leader gets up and says that porn use had increased to epidemic proportions, and that porn significantly increases divorce rates, the logic there should predict a detectibly elevated, and correlated, use of porn. Well, a quick look at the data shows that isn’t true. Divorce rates are not correlated to porn use rates. Porn use rates have gone way, way, way up for many years.  Divorce rates have not.  I’ll spare us linking the data here, but it should stand on its own. Divorce rates have not increased at anywhere remotely near the prevalence of porn use. This leads the audience to conclude:

  • My religious leader is misrepresenting the rate of porn use
  • Porn isn’t as bad as my religious leader is making it out to be

Neither of these is in the best interests of the religious leader.

At this point, I need to refine my argument. Some research has shown that Mormon temple marriages experience significantly lower divorce rates than other religions and statistical clusters.  One of the proposed explanations for that is the strict standard of behavior. Let’s go ahead and stipulate that is true,even though the research has some potential issues. If this were the case, we would expect to see the divorce rate for Mormons going through the roof as they violate these standards (which they are apparently doing left, right and center).  As an aside, some other research has shown Mormons having a slightly higher divorce rate than Atheists.   I’m not going to get into that because it is not relevant to my argument on the correlation gap within the stated assertions.

While divorce rates for most groups are going up (at varying speeds) that isn’t being seen in LDS populations at anywhere near the reported levels of porn addiction. Either LDS women are the most tolerant of addiction of any group on the planet (maybe, but I doubt it), or the LDS men are beating porn addictions at astounding rates (so much so that I would imagine we will run out of potential addicts very soon) or the rate of addictive porn use is wildly exaggerated (I think you know my view).

As a side point, I find the data behind divorce rates to be fascinating, particularly the notion that the external factor most closely correlated to divorce is the ease of the legal structure in obtaining a divorce. For example consider Italy (rife with what LDSers would consider porn addiction) has a divorce rate much lower than expected given its statistical profile. The causative factor is thought to be the 3 year waiting period for a divorce.

Bad Gender Roles

I have regularly heard Mormon leaders (not high level, I’m talking bishops, eq presidents, sometimes stake presidents, and the ever-amusing high priest group leaders) promulgate the idea that men are so vulnerable to porn, and porn is so bad, that their wives should sort the mail to remove all the catalogs that might contain pictures of ladies’ underwear or sportswear. This sets up a horrible disproportionality in a marriage that I think is highly destructive. It also illustrates the really wacky scale of what these Mormons consider to be porn.

If we ever come to the end of this thread, I’ll blather on a bit about why I think we end up in a place where an adult man needs to be insulated from underwear catalogs. For now, I will just say to the men: if you are really functioning on a level where you can’t handle exposure to that kind of thing without going round the twist, you do need help, but not because you are a porn addict. Man up. Sheesh.

Intermission summary

Anyway, back to the show. I suggest that the sensitivity to porn use, and the perceived negative impact on marriage in LDS circles is due to the fact that the religion, and the spouses involved, have a zero tolerance policy. Any time to you don’t meet your partner’s expectation (particularly when you swore you would) it is going to create a marital problem. The presence of a marital problem doesn’t indicate addiction by itself. I’m sure there are Mormons struggling with bona fide addictions. The significant majority either are not, or the addiction is not nearly as pathological as is represented.

I’ve well and truly trashed the three paragraph rule. I hope I still have some readers enduring through. In any case, I’ll arbitrarily stop here to pause for thoughts and comments.

January 13, 2010

What makes one addiction an illness and not another?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:48 pm

To my understanding, this question really gets to some of the differences between clinical and popular views of these issues.  In our culture it is much more acceptable to have an illness (which we couldn’t control), than to have a behavioral disorder (which is our fault).  As we learn more about neurobiology and the science behind addiction, it is easier to point to observable biological breakdowns associated with addictions.  We like to call these illness.

As we have learned more about alcoholism, there has been a desire to refer to it as an illness.  This really isn’t a clinical term at all.  From what I have learned in the current arc of psychological analysis, there is more of an interest in referring to these types of behaviors as chemical dependencies than as an illness, or even the term we are currently addressing- addiction.

My understanding of the answer to that question is that alcoholism should not be given special status as an illness above other forms of chemical dependency.  For example, drug addiction would be an intuitive parallelism from a medical perspective.  Of course, I brought all this up because I think a subject that has a little more wiggle room is what constitutes an addiction.  Beyond that, I would be comfortable classifying all addictions as pathologies by definition.  Off hand, I think we would be safe to say all addictions are also illnesses.  I’m not sure what criteria we would use to say addiction X is an illness, but addiction Y is not.

That being said, I would circle back to my opening sentiment, that popular culture absolutely has a stack-rank of acceptable additions and which of those are considered social-accepted illnesses.  Alcoholism is near the top.  Bigorexia is not. =)

UPDATE:  Just to clarify, this post is to address Joe’s earlier comment.  Art is next.

January 8, 2010

Sin as sickness

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:40 am

I personally don’t like it when valuable new content gets stuck in the comments section of a blog post, so I shall respond to yesterday’s commentors with posts.  Technically, P was first, but got stuck in comment approval limbo for a while.  Given that none of the people who would be likely to agree with the Mormon tendency to label porn use as an addition have commented, we are missing a voice on the issue.  Hopefully, some of them will contribute.  If not I’ll do my best to represent their likely counterpoints at a later time (that should fill you will alarm, not provide a reason to sit back TBMs =) )

Anyway, I would like to add my voice to P’s, and the resources that I linked to, in making it clear that porn CAN be an addiction.  Ultimately, this subject will lead into Joe’s question, so we have a built in transition (thanks Joe!).  The key distinction is found in the nature of the harm experienced.  In clinical applications of the term, the harm experienced by the addictive behavior is obvious to a neutral observer.  Alcoholism, smoking, a wide range of drugs, etc.  In the case in which the term is often used in a Mormon context, the harm is the violation of a tenet of faith.

There is nothing wrong with tenets of faith.  Defining incidental porn use as sin is part of your faith.  While there might be arguments on whether that is a good idea, that isn’t really relevant here.  It is a tenet of Mormon faith.  The problem is when violating that tenet is raised to the level of a disease.  Persons who violate tenets of their faith are not addicts by definition, they are sinners.  Some sinners might also be addicts, most are not.  In Mormonism, nearly every occasional porn user is labeled an addict.

I assert that the misapplication of this term within Mormon cultural contexts is related to the degree of seriousness attached to the violation.  Porn is REALLY bad, therefore, if I am doing it, a REALLY bad label seems appropriate.  The popularization of self-diagnosis and the medicalization of behavioral issues are among the other factors that cause us to want to apply clinical terms to our sins. 

I am not sympathetic to interchanging sinner with addict.  In the case of porn, the TBMs might well argue that the person feels compelled; resisting the desire is painful.  That is certainly likely to be true, but is also applicable to wide range of sins which are not also labeled as addictions.  Gossip, pride and lying immediately spring to mind.  In those cases, the tenets of the faith do not ascribe the same severity of evil to the sin.  See my point in the above paragraph to illustrate that this thinking bolsters  the previous element of my argument.

By this point, I have well exceeded the three paragraph limit at which most readers will bail on a blog post.  I shall summarize with this:  You may feel compelled to engage in a sinful activity, that makes you a sinner, not an addict.  Some sins can be addictions, many are not.  The levels at which addiction is ascribed to the porn use rates by LDS folks are highly unlikely to meet the clinical definition of addiction.   

UPDATE:  In reflection on these posts, I think it is highly likely I have not persuaded any TBMs in the slightest.

January 7, 2010

Finally, some clarity

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:07 am

For some time now, I have been bothered by a cultural aspect of the religious group many of my family members and friends belong to.  As many religions do, this one denounces porn rather vehemently and has clear rules on what sexual practices are allowed.  The thing that annoys me is the discourse that arises around violations of these rules.  Church members are very apt to use terms like addiction to describe the aberrant behaviors of folks who don’t keep the rules.

The use of the term addition in this context is problematic for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it is redefining a term with a specific clinical meaning into something else entirely.  In so doing, the redefiners seek to graft the full gravitas of the clinical definition onto a different concept entirely, thus denigrating the real problem of addition.  People might have serious problems even dysfunctions, but addiction is something else entirely.  I have been in congregations where folks have claimed that 30% of the attendees have pornography addictions.  While I have no data to prove this, I suspect claims of this type are not uncommon among this cultural group.

I might be more inclined to pass this off as me getting cranky about the misuse of an ivory tower term by the unwashed masses who just don’t know what they are talking about.  Regular readers will know I have an unpleasant tendency to such thinking.  However, in this case, I actually have a point worth listening to.  This misapplication of a term is meaningful because it redefines sin as a sickness.

These parishioners are clearly having a hard time reaching the goals their religion teaches.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  The mistake is in claiming that your sin is a disease.  In my anecdotal observation, the overwhelming majority of these diagnoses are issued by the sinner themselves, their spouses/families, other folks in 12 step programs, or ecclesiastic leaders (who are not trained in diagnosing actual addiction).   In every conversation I have had with folks who have had more than two years of para-professional training in mental health disciplines, 100% have agreed that addiction is misapplied in this context.

I am quite aware that my narrative above is quite low in substantive proof, so I shall link some here.  In addition, I leave you with this quote which I hope you will find persuasive:

Addiction – at the start of the noughties pretty much nobody had heard of sex addiction, and when it was mentioned it was done so with a snigger. But with the efforts of a minority of ‘therapists’ the idea gained popularity – particularly among conservative countries, sex negative organisations/practitioners, and the media. Celebrity indiscretions provided ample case studies for the addiction label to be applied. Rather than sexual problems being down to coercive, abusive, controlling or thoughtless behaviour we reframed sexual behaviour we didn’t like (including masturbation, using sex toys, being unfaithful, or having sex before marriage) as ‘addiction’. We even shifted our view of porn as a cause of violence (the general view in the 80s and 90s) to an indicator of sex addiction. Of course people do experience problems with sex which are distressing, but this is not to say anyone who is unfaithful or looks at porn is a sex addict.

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