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Mental health experts diagnose and dissect WHO’s designation of compulsive sexual behavior as a mental health disorder




World Health Organization Director-General is seen behind a sign of the WHO during the opening day of the World Health Assembly on May 21, 2018 in Geneva.
World Health Organization Director-General is seen behind a sign of the WHO during the opening day of the World Health Assembly on May 21, 2018 in Geneva.
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

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In its June update of its official International Classification of Diseases list (ICD-11), the World Health Organization (WHO) grabbed headlines for its classification of compulsive video gaming as a mental health disorder.

But another compulsion is controversial among addiction experts as to whether it is a true mental disorder was also on that list — compulsive sexual behavior.

Sex addiction, as WHO says, is not necessarily about the number of sexual partners a person has, but rather how much of a role someone’s sexual behavior plays in their daily life and whether that behavior is repetitive to the point that it becomes a hindrance to personal care, relationships, work and other responsibilities.

There are clinicians, however, who disagree with its designation as a mental health disorder and say that it should be a standalone disorder and that labeling it as such opens up the potential of sex addiction shaming.

We’ll speak with mental health experts with differing opinions on whether compulsive sexual behavior should be classified as a mental health disorder and the potential for stigmatization on both sides.

Guests:

Timothy Fong, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Addiction Medicine Clinic

Christopher Ferguson, professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida; he tweets @CJFerguson1111

 



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