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Dr. Ley's Myths about Sex Addiction
on 22 March 2013
Here's a quote from the book:
"If sex is inherently dangerous, as the theories behind sexual addiction allege, then why does it feel so good? It’s kind of a silly question perhaps..."
No, Dr. Ley - it's a moronic question.
I bought this book with an open mind. I had been through some treatment for sex addiction with which I did not feel satisfied and I was ready to hear an alternative point of view to the one I had got from my therapist. I had heard a radio interview with Dr. Ley where he asserted that:
a) "sex addiction" as a label prevents therapists from getting to the deeper issues that their individual clients are dealing with and
b) "sex addiction" as a label encourages people not to accept responsibility for their own behaviours.
I hoped that the book would discuss those ideas in more detail. I was, however, totally disappointed. Mainstream theories of sex addiction, for all their many flaws, do NOT claim that sex is inherently dangerous. Maybe some religious fundamentalists in the USA do make that claim, but unfortunately for Dr. Ley they do not represent the whole field of sex addiction.
He goes on at length about how sex addiction theories must define what is "healthy" sex. Again, nonsense - surely it's about the problems that one's sexual behaviours are causing in their individual lives not about what is defined as "healthy" by professionals.
When discussing the role of secrecy in compulsive sexual behaviours, we get this little gem:
"Diogenes, the “dog philosopher,” who was one of Alexander the Great’s mentors was infamous for masturbating in public, in the town square, to show his intentional rejection of social rules. I argue that the unsecretive sexual act might be more unhealthy than the secret or private one."
Really, Dr. Ley - do you really think so? What insight you have!
On discussing sex with people who are intoxicated:
"Is it unhealthy if my wife and I share a bottle of wine on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace and have passionate sex? You get to be the one to tell my wife that. I’m not going to."
That's up to you and your wife, Dr. Ley. It has nothing to do with people engaging in sexual behaviours that cause problems for themselves or others.
On discussing people continuing to engage in sexual acts that are causing them unwanted pain:
"So uncomfortable sex is not mentally healthy sex? I guess it’s like swimming, then. You’d better wait after eating; you don’t want to get a cramp and accidentally have unhealthy sex!"
What a sensitive and thoughtful comment!
People who identify themselves as "sex addicts" aren't on the margins of some definition of "healthy" in a medical textbook somewhere. They aren't even men who've had an affair and want to find an excuse. You'll often hear stories about people who can't do their jobs because they spend half the night at their computers watching porn or who can't pay the bills have spent far more than they can afford paying for sex or who have repeatedly risked their health in order to keeping seeking out new sexual partners.
I'm not defending the notion of "sex addiction". I think it needs to be challenged but surely there's someone out there who can come up with something better than this. I want to see the notion of "sex addiction" challenged but I want to see someone challenge the actual theories and not some fabrication of the theories. I certainly don't want to read someone meaninglessly debating with themselves what is sexually "healthy" or "normal".
I simply cannot see how this book could be taken seriously as a contribution to the discussion on "sex addiction".