Study Suggests Sex Addiction Is A Real Disorder

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A new study provides evidence that damage or dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex may result in compulsive sexual behavior.

The Study

Dr. Lique Coolen, of the University of Western Ontario (London), and her colleagues conducted an experiment that examined the role of the prefrontal cortext in sexual behavior in rats. Every time the rats copulated, the researchers injected the male rats with a compound that causes nausea. The rats learned to associate copulating with nausea and stopped initiating sex after about 4 trials.

The researchers then created lesions in the rats' prefrontal cortex. Despite demonstrating a knowledge of the negative consequences of copulation--nausea, the rats with lesions continued to have sex. These results suggest that compulsive sex-seeking behavior may be a result of dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex.

Why Is This Important?

Sex addiction has been in the news a lot lately, mostly due to a number of celebrities who claim to be sufferers. This has generated much debate over whether sex addiction is a "real" disorder like drug addiction. Mental health professionals are beginning to recognize the legitimacy of sex addiction, but it continues to be a controversial topic. Research studies like this one offer some legitimacy to the disorder and pave the way for better diagnosis and treatment.

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