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The Myth of Sex Addiction 1st Edition

4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1442213043
ISBN-10: 1442213043
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Ley asks whether sexual addiction is a bona fide ailment or merely a "culturally bound concept." Ley suggests that, like it or not, "sexual behaviors involve choice." Ley makes a persuasive argument, with case studies and ample references to the work of other psychologists to flesh out his case. Publishers Weekly

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

The public is inundated with the labels of sex addiction, inappropriately and unethically applied to public figures involved in sex scandals. The media and countless addiction professionals present this disorder as though it is real, supported by science and accepted by the medical community. But, the reality is that sex addiction is NOT a valid diagnosis, is not accepted by the American medical, psychiatric or psychological communities and associations. There are many treatment centers and sex addictionologists who will take your money to treat sex addiction, but there is NO scientific evidence that their treatment works, or is worth your money. There is a strong scientific and medical skepticism and disdain for the idea of sex addiction, a debate that is not represented by the media. Instead, the media uses black and white junk science concepts like sex addiction to grab the audience's attention, creating a moral panic and using fear of sex to command a share of audience attention.

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 1 edition (March 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442213043
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442213043
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,524,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David J. Ley Ph.D.

Dr. David Ley is a clinical psychologist in practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dr Ley earned his Bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Ole Miss, and his Master's and Doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the University of New Mexico. Dr. Ley is licensed in New Mexico and Nevada, and has provided clinical and consultative services in numerous other states.

Dr. Ley currently serves as Executive Director of a large outpatient behavioral health agency in Albuquerque. Dr. Ley has been treating sexuality issues throughout his career. He first began treating perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse, but began to expand his approach to include the fostering and promotion of healthy sexuality, and awareness of the wide range of normative sexual behaviors. Insatiable Wives is his first book and won a Silver Medal in the Foreword Magazine Book of the Year contest for 2009. Dr. Ley wrote Insatiable Wives following two years of interviews with couples around the country. He is currently working on a second book, challenging the concept of sexual addiction. He may be contacted at the following address: nmpsychologist@yahoo.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It seems that one either loves or hates this book. Of the comments on Amazon USA, almost all reviewers either give it a maximum 5 stars or a minimum 1 star, the `loves' strongly outweighing the `hates'. The 3 UK reviewers were less generous. If possible, I would have given it 4.5 but, not being allowed this, I opted for 5 stars. I did this, not because I agree with its central premise that sex addiction is a myth - I don't - but because of how well written it is and because of the obvious help that it has brought to many people who presumably have been falsely diagnosed. Dr Ley's scholarship in assembling fascinating and highly relevant case studies is nothing short of amazing. If the book were reframed as, say, `Uses and Abuses of Sex Addiction', I would unhesitatingly give it 5 stars. I must confess that, if I had read it before submitting my own book `How Sexual Desire Works: The Enigmatic Urge' to the publishers, I might well have added a question mark after the chapter heading `Sexual addiction'.

Three fundamental issues seem to run through the debate, as follows.

First, is a moral agenda driving much of the discussion, forcing some people to see their perfectly healthy consensual activity as wrong, thereby causing much unnecessary distress and the seeking of expensive therapy? The answer that Dr Ley gives is a very convincing `yes'. However, does everyone who claims, or appears, to have an addiction fit this category? I would say `no'.

Secondly, do (so-called) sexually-addicted people have free will and agency over their behaviour or have they lost control? Here Dr Ley sails into rather treacherous waters, since the issue of free-will and determinism is one that has eluded philosophers from at least the time of the ancient Greeks.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When the student is ready the teacher will appear, and this book came just at the time when I was struggling a bit with my own sexual desires, compuslsions and behavior. A very refreshingly thoughtful and spot on look at sexual behavior in our culture broken down into behaviors of men and women. I have read several books on sex addiction and have in my own mind previous to reading Ley's book shunned many of the precepts asserted in those books. I have been to 12 step groups for sexual compulsives and came to my own conclusion about my behavior and how it was directly related to my dysfunctional relationship and subsequent marriage, hence not an addiction I concluded. I also relish the way Ley explains and supports normal male sexual behavior with very detailed and credible human studies. I encourage any interested in a broader view of one's own sexual behavior and situation to enlighten that search missioin with this great read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
People may be outraged by the title of this book, but they probably haven't actually read the book.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Ley's new book is a must-read for all helping professionals and lay people who have been frustrated by the growth of an industry that is founded on a fundamental myth -- that sex itself is a disease, and that people who like it too much are addicts. Ley makes a careful, evidence-based case for a more humane and realistic standard of normalcy, with a special sensitivity to the plight of men in a sex-negative world. The book shows how the sex addiction industry has exploited common misunderstandings, fears, and insecurities about sex, and has demonized healthy, normal male sexual behaviors. Using case studies alongside famous media stories, Dr. Ley puts forth a powerful case for how and why the sex addiction myth is both unscientific and dangerous. Dr. Ley's research and detailed analyses are an invaluable contribution to the scientific study of sex.

Gloria Brame, Ph.D.
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Format: Hardcover
By demonizing people with sexual compulsive problems, Dr. Ley both over-simplifies the answer, and disregards the facts and analysis that are contrary to his thesis. He doesn't adequately deal with the neurobiology and physical symptoms that make sex addicts comparable with other addictions, does not deal with the anecdotal evidence that is contrary to his points, and apparently is trying to differentiate himself in the field by "making a splash."

The problem here, is that he's demonizing a group that already has immense shame and fear, and now he is telling them, "you have a moral failing." The premise, arguments, and logic, are self-serving and indicates a lack of experience with those he talks about.

I am concerned that those with a sexual compulsion who read this book, would feel hopeless, and spin back into an acting-out pattern. It is difficult to discern how this book is helpful to anyone other than Dr. Ley.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was going to write a review for Dr. David Ley's new book, The Myth Of Sex Addictions, and then I realized that what I really wanted to write was more of a testimonial, but there was no category listed for that. So maybe I can combine the two in such a way that my intentions will be clear to you.

Ley's book was one of maybe three books which I have read, that I can say without any reservation, had a transformational effect on my life. The other two were AA's Big Book and Self-Defeating Behaviors, by by Milton Cudney and Robert Hardy (Jan. 1993).

I have been fighting what I called maladaptive sexual behavior for over sixty years. I am currently seventy-two years old. I stopped drinking and using illegal drugs in 1986 and conquered a three and a half pack a day cigarette habit in 1987 so I am familiar with how difficult it can be to overcome self-defeating behavior.

Ley addresses three key points in the debate about sex addictions. His first point is that there is no clinical or hard science that supports the addictive nature of the sexual function in human beings. Secondly, he shows how normal sexuality varies greatly and is related to many social, physical and genetic factors and is expressed much differently by gender.

I was especially impressed by Chap Two of the book that delineates the difference between true addictions, alcoholism or other drugs, and behaviors that may be thought of as addictive, sex, food, gambling, shopping ad nauseam.

Throughout the book Dr. Ley uses case study examples to illustrate how male sexuality is and has always been different from female sexuality for reasons that are related to both physical factors and Darwinian evolutionary forces.
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