New allegations have emerged the New York City mayoral hopeful may have once again exchanged sexually graphic texts and photos. Does he have a sex addiction?
After the first sex scandal, Weiner retreated from public life, purportedly to do a little soul-searching and repair his marriage with Huma Abedin, an aide to former secretary of state Hilary Clinton. Some critics now wonder if Weiner may have spent too much time on Sunday crossword puzzles and not enough working through what some contend may be a serious sex addiction.
But Rory Reid, PhD, assistant professor and research psychologist in the UCLA department of psychology, and an expert on sex addiction, isn’t convinced the reports of Internet sexual exchanges indicates that Weiner necessarily has a problem. Today, a study released by UCLA reported that self-proclaimed sex addicts may simply have a higher sex drive.
“Anthony Weiner’s behavior is not uncommon among Americans,” said Dr. Reid. “Speculation about whether he has a ‘sexual addiction’ cannot be determined given what we know from his public comments and other information in the media. There are many people who engage in online sexual behavior with people outside their monogamous committed relationships, and this alone, is insufficient to warrant labels such as ‘sex addiction’ or concluding Mr. Weiner has a ‘hypersexual disorder.’”
In fact, many experts don’t believe sex addiction — also known as hypersexuality — is a legitimate psychiatric condition, and the diagnosis is controversial. Last year, the American Psychiatric Association reported they were assessing the criteria for hypersexuality for possible inclusion in the fifth revised and updated edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the guide used by psychiatrists and psychologists worldwide to diagnose patients. But when final revisions were announced, hypersexuality hadn’t made the list.
George Collins, a former sex addict who founded Compulsion Solutions to help sex addicts, has a different opinion than Reid.
“A problem of this magnitude, where you’re showing your own penis on the Internet, isn’t going away on it’s own,” said Collins, who is the author of Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Addiction, and Shame. Collins speculates Weiner was not sufficiently treated for his sexual issues, or did not seek the right type of therapy to address deep-seated problems.
“It’s a coping mechanism,” Collins believes. “He’s an exhibitionist, he needs to be seen. Something happened in his young life where he was undervalued.”
The compulsive desire to view pornography, seek out strangers to have sex with, or engage in frequent exchanges of a sexual nature with strangers must be properly addressed by mental health professionals, according to Collins. In his practice, he uses cognitive behavioral therapy and psychosynthesis, also known as dialogue therapy, which helps clients develop coping skills to use when they find themselves close to trouble.
“Anthony is the best therapist he could find,” said Collins. “He just has to harness the ability to do his own therapy. He would have to write these silly stupid dialogues to his penis, and ask ‘Why is it that you would need to be showing yourself to a woman on the Internet?’ People live and die with this stuff.”
Photo Credit: Kathy Willen/AP Photo