Lately America can't seem to get enough sex. Maybe they can get enough of their own, but they can't shake off the fixation of the publicly made details of the concurrent sex scandals of Anthony Weiner and Bob Filner.
For a long time, people hid behind a label. They were sex addicts. And we all agree something that you are addicted to, opium, pain pills, alcohol are illnesses. Treatable in most cases. So many people have copped out to that excuse for their bad behavior or even crimes, but they were given a pass. They were sick.
Then comes a new study, just within the past two weeks that suggests that there really isn't such a thing as sex addition. Well if there isn't an illness, then maybe there's another excuse. These self-professed abusers are really just acting out and they will continue to do so, even with help.
Take Weiner. He claims he receive professional help for his addition, then continued to offend. Now Filner is voluntarily going for two weeks of therapy. (Two weeks?) He expects to be cured of his unseemly demeanor.
But how can you be cured from what doesn't exist? Here's how Linton puts it in her reporting for The Political Beast:
To start with, sex addiction, formerly known as hypersexual disorder, is not labeled as a disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM. The phrase “sexual addiction” first showed up in the DSM in 1980, but was removed in 1994 due to lack of research.
Last week scientists from UCLA published a study positing that sex addiction may not be similar to alcohol and drug addiction. Using 52 adults (13 women, 39 men), the scientists used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the participants’ brain responses. Addicts have been found to have an increase in their P300 responses, or the brain waves in the first 300 milliseconds, when shown an image of their drug of choice. P300 has generally been used as a marker of addiction in the brain, so the UCLA scientists showed the participants pornographic images and measured their P300 responses—and the response found was related to high how their level of desire was but not the three measures of hypersexuality.
Okay, I agree. Scientific mumbo-jumbo. But what is really the point is that we all seem to hide behind labels. Johnny shouldn't be punished because he's ill, he suffering from "XYZ" and therefore should be shown some latitude. Or Sally's not responsible, it was the booze that took over.
I buy all that. And I also buy this particular study (as small as it is) is more sh*t than horse. I think you can become addicted to anything, chocolate, flowers, games, music -- but they're still addictions. The question to me isn't whether the particular deficiency is an addiction or an illness. It's whether or not there's really a cure. And if not, then a person's abilities to keep it in check are what we need to look at.
Does Weiner appear to you like he's found a solution? How about Bob Filner who's still living in denial. We have votes and a responsibility goes along with them. Let's consider illness as an illness. And addiction as an addiction. But let's be wise and let time, not someone's convenient stay in a clinic, determine whether they've earned our trust.
Also keep in mind that mental illness comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. Someone doesn't have to be publicly declared sick to be sick. Just look at Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Bob McDonnell, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, the entire cast of Fox & Friends and Joe Scarborough just to name a few. The AMA says 7 out of 10 people suffer from some sort of mental disorder. Next time you see a group shot of Congress, see if you can pick out the ones who aren't nuts. And don't forget, one of your choices is, "None of the above."