Psychologist David Ley's rousing new book, "The Myth of Sex Addiction," expresses concern over the slippery ease with which America's mainstream media and burgeoning "addictionology industry" have seemingly conspired to transform a debatable diagnosis into a foregone conclusion. Ian Kerner, CNN Health
I cannot stress enough how important this book is, not just to the helping professions but to the general public. If you are a teacher, therapist or just a sexual person, I cannot encourage you enough to read this book. It contains an enormous amount of data, is well written, has a great index and end notes.Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality
For anyone who has cringed once too often at the term "sex addiction"--or questioned the blanket use of "addiction" as an explanation for behavior that is really a matter of moral choice--Ley's demolition of the bad science and worse reasoning behind the sex addiction industry will be refreshing. The Weekly Standard
Ley argues that the label of sex addiction undermines our efforts to enforce expectations of responsibility. The writing style is personal and easy to follow, and the book is well referenced with frequent case histories to clarify points. Highly recommended. . Choice - American Library Association
Ley, a clinical psychologist and director of a behavioral health clinic, examines the position that the diagnosis of sex addiction is heavily influenced by social norms and values and is not a legitimate medical condition. He shows how what is labeled sex addiction is based on culture's social norms and covers a multitude of mostly male behavior. The fact that this behavior may be in conflict with social norms does not mean the individual has a psychiatric condition. In addition, the author argues, telling people their behavior is uncontrollable is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In chapters with titles like "Gender and Libido" and "Ignored Aspects of Masculinity," Ley examines the range of male sexuality and how that range is different from that of females. When norms are set based on female behavior, normal male behavior can be construed as pathological. "The label of sex addiction," writes Ley, "undermines our efforts to enforce expectations of responsibility, holding ourselves, and especially men, responsible for their choices and actions." The writing style is personal and easy to follow, and the book is well referenced with frequent case histories to clarify points. Summing Up: Highly recommended. (CHOICE)
Sex addiction and its attendant diagnosed celebrities and reality TV shows may have been wholeheartedly embraced by the media, but this work of pop psychology takes issue with what clinical psychologist Ley (Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them) deems a dubious disorder. Here, Ley asks whether sexual addiction is really a bona fide ailment or merely a "culturally bound concept reflecting changing social views of sexuality rather than medicine or scientific research." Ley suggests that the label of "addiction" removes the issue of morality from the conversation, whereas in fact--whether we like it or not--he asserts that "sexual behaviors involve choice." However, Ley acknowledges the appeal of calling it an addiction, quoting an anonymous ex-spouse of a so-called sex addict, who affirmed that it would've been easier to cope with her husband's serial infidelity had it been the product of impulses literally beyond his control. Ley makes a thoughtful and persuasive argument, using case studies and ample references to the work of other psychologists to flesh out his case. While serving as an excellent resource on sex addiction, Ley's study also sheds light on the myriad cultural and sociological factors that influence relationships. (Publishers Weekly)
Ley has clearly thrown down the gauntlet, and hopefully the debate will continue. (CNN)
I cannot stress enough how important this book is, not just to the helping professionals but to the general public who get the read and hear (incessantly) about someone famous who is called a "sex addict"....If you are a teacher, therapist, or just a sexual person, I cannot encourage you enough to read this book. It contains an enormous amount of data, is well written, and has a great index and endnotes. (Electronic Journal Of Human Sexuality)
For anyone who has cringed once too often at the term “sex addiction”—or questioned the blanket use of “addiction” as an explanation for behavior that is really a matter of moral choice—Ley’s demolition of the bad science and worse reasoning behind the sex addiction industry will be refreshing. (The Weekly Standard)
Dr. David Ley raises crucial questions in his latest book—questions that demand serious consideration before we allow American society to drift even further toward declaring all pleasure potentially dangerous and pathological. Ley shows that the puritanism underlying our politics may also be distorting our medical sciences. This book is well informed, well argued, and well worth your time.(Christopher Ryan Ph.D, Co-author of Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality)
David Ley's book raises one important question after another about the nature of sexuality, the social phenomenon of "sex addiction," and the effects of our pathologizing so much of Americans' sexual feelings and behavior. (Marty Klein)
This book’s exploration of the available science will fascinate any reader. Beyond observing that there is no credible body of evidence to support the notion of sexual addiction, David Ley describes many historical problems in attempting to define it.... Ley’s writing style is highly accessible and entertaining. The structure and layout are excellent. He is meticulous in providing citations for his assertions, often preferring direct quotes to summaries. (ATSA Fourm)
From the Author
Though there are countless popular books that will tell you that you, your husband, wife and political leaders are or might be addicted to sex, there are no books that carefully examine the reality of the claims made by the true believers in sex addiction. This book was written to present the other side of the argument. I believe that the realities of this debate need to be public and transparent, to allow people to see that sex is not a disease, and that sexuality is a healthy, integral and important part of people's lives. Treating sex as dangerous, unhealthy and destructive stigmatizes many people, including men, women and the LGBT community. The label of sex addiction gives false excuses for the selfish, narcissistic and destructive acts that some husbands, leaders and celebrities engage in, and distracts from the real issues involved in their choices.
We need to demand that instead of simply calling someone a sex addict, we start asking the real questions of why and how people make the choices they do, whether it involves sex or not. And we need to demand responsibility and ethics, from our husbands and wives, from addiction treatment providers, from the media, and from our political leaders. This starts by exposing sex addiction as a shell game, a game that is using smoke and mirrors to hide moral judgments and to deny personal responsibility.