Hypersexuality Disorder in Line to Become a Mental Diagnosis


Sex Addict Spends Money Recklessly

Candy says he had not been physically abused as a child, but that his father kept pornography and once punished him for misbehavior by making him wear a dress outside for a day.

Now, he says he has spent money "recklessly," at least $5,000 on women's lingerie. "It's out of control," said Candy, adding that he feels appreciated by the men and women who respond to him online.

He says he satisfies his sexual urges by masturbating "more than once a day, sometimes until exhaustion."

His wife of 32 years is not aware of the extent of Candy's compulsions and he lies to her.

"I made up something when she found mascara on the sink," he said. "She knows I have a ton of pictures of myself dressed up as a woman and the curiosity is driving her insane."

He told her that the interview with ABCNews.com was with a psychiatrist.

Men rarely seek help on their own, according to Douglas Weiss, a psychologist who runs Heart to Heart, a counseling center in Colorado for sex addicts. Usually, the wives find out.

"They are checking their husbands' cache and websites," Weiss said. "There is porn blocker software. Men get caught quicker because of technology."

Women also have sex-addiction issues, Weiss said, but men are more apt to leave them before seeking help. Women are usually willing to "save the family," he said.

With a team of professionals, he runs 12-step programs, support groups and out-patient counseling.

An estimated 80 percent of people who are identified as hypersexual have been abused as children, Weiss said. Many, like Candy, have suffered trauma or abandonment or emotional neglect as children.

Some with sex addictions have what Weiss calls a "biological basis," with unhealthy attachments that form, often with exposure to pornography, which begin in early adolescence.

"They prefer the object of sex rather than relationship sex ... where they are present with a committed partner," he said. "It's like people who smoke who don't taste the food."

A smaller group of people have other mental imbalances, such as bipolar disorder, which manifests itself hypersexuality.

But that, according to the working draft of the DSM-5, would not meet the criteria for hypersexuality disorder, nor would repetitive behavior associated with the effects of substance abuse.

The key is getting help for both husband and wife, Weiss said.

"If he gets better and she doesn't, it doesn't work," he added. "There are three pieces: him, her and the marriage. Most men and women can forgive if there is plausible explanation."

As for Candy, he loves his wife, but that hasn't stopped him from risky online affairs.

And, for the first time last weekend, Candy set up a date and drove four hours from home to meet a woman in person for sex. She never turned up.

"It's so complicated and I don't understand it," Candy said of his hypersexuality.

"I am so ready for my wife's support, but how do I tell her without a divorce that I've done something she probably would never forgive me for? What would my adult kids say or do, disown Dad? Where do I turn?"

But he is convinced that his behavior is driven less by sexual impulse than the need for love.

"I don't feel appreciated anymore," he said, "because I don't love myself anymore."

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