We are thrilled to share the recent news that the World Health Organization (WHO) just released the official diagnosis of Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD), more commonly known as sex addiction/compulsion, in its latest revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The purpose on the ICD-11 is for international health professionals and government to recognize and diagnose both physical and mental health concerns. The WHO identified and released over 55,000 physical and mental illnesses that the people in our world are suffering today.
What are the criteria to meet CSBD?
According to the WHO, the disorder is characterized by “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior.” Essentially, sex addiction/compulsion is an impulse disorder. Certified Sex Addiction Therapist classify sex addiction/compulsion using 3 basic criteria:
- Preoccupation to the point of obsession with sexual fantasy and behavior
- Loss of control over sexual behavior, typically shown by failed attempts to quit or cut back
- Directly related negative life consequences due to behavior
Why is this diagnosis so important?
We believe this official diagnosis of CSBD is invaluable to both those who struggle with sexual addiction/compulsion issues as well as the professionals who provide treatment. Recognition of this official diagnosis will also help reduce shame while at the same time make it easier for people to receive quality treatment. Not to mention that reducing shame and receiving quality treatment allows healing to take place while reducing hurt towards others. Less hurt people hurting people= healthier relationships.
The diagnosis also helps to remove morality, religion, and personal judgment from sexually compulsive behaviors. With the recognition of an official diagnosis from the WHO, it takes away opinions and judgments on what could be considered criteria for sexual addiction/compulsion to what research reports as scientific.
Although CSBD is not included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5), we are hoping that since the WHO classified Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder is the ICD-11, the DSM-5 will follow suit. Hopefully, as all mental health parties recognize this diagnosis, more quality treatment will be available.
How does this impact our community?
Besides the fact an official diagnosis can help reduce the enormous amount of shame surrounding this issue, we believe that it will provide the opportunity for healing and restoration for many of people and their families who are suffering. Whether you want to call it sexual addiction/sexual compulsion or CSBD, we believe that this is really an intimacy issue. Being intimate means that a person feels safe being completely known and vulnerable with another person. Intimacy issues often arise after a person has experienced childhood trauma or attachment issues because they learned they could not trust anyone to get their emotional and physical needs met. In the case of sexual addiction/compulsion, a person learns to meet his or her own emotional and physical needs because their beliefs of shame about themselves and their experiences that solidify that they won’t get those needs met by others.
Our behavior is not random. We do things for a reason. As human beings, we want to do everything we possibly can to not feel hurt and pain. That’s where compulsive behaviors and addiction stem from. It feels a lot better to eat a lot of food than to feel lonely. It feels a lot better to drink alcohol or do drugs than to have to think or talk about a family member being abusive or neglectful. It also feels a lot better to engage in compulsive sexual behaviors than to have to deal with our trauma and how it makes us feel about ourselves. In our culture, it is much easier to have empathy and understanding for those with food, alcohol, or drug addiction than it is for those who struggle with sexual addiction/compulsion. But the root of the behavior is the same…to avoid or numb the pain and shame surrounding what traumatic experiences we have been through.
“I’m not sure if I am struggling with CSBD, but I can identify with some of the criteria. What do I do now?”
Great question! First you need to know, this is a specific issue that requires specific treatment. For this type of treatment, you will want to see a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT). CSATs have undergone in-depth training in sexual addiction/compulsion problems to be able to effectively treat those struggling with these issues. At CDC, our staff has trained CSAT therapists who specialize in treatment of individuals and families related to sexual addiction/compulsion.
If you are unsure if you are struggling with sexual addiction/compulsion, take a few minutes to take the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST), a free online assessment tool. This will help you determine what type of treatment may be best for you.
Next, reach out for help. You do not have to continue to live in shame and hurt any longer. We want to walk alongside you through the journey of recovery and healing.
-Whitney Voss, M.S., PLPC, CSAT-c