The Brain of A Sex Addict

March 9, 2016

A sex addict is capable of anything to satisfy his obsession, regardless of the consequences it may have. However, this does not mean they are satisfied with their situation: they often want to stop their obsession, but find it impossible.

Their sexual behavior is very compulsive, obsessive, and difficult to control. This is the biggest challenge of this condition: not knowing how to stop represents a bigger problem than having a desire that is more pronounced than others.

“The erotic instinct belongs to the original nature of man. It is related to the highest form of spirit”

-Carl G. Jung-

The sex addict’s brain

The brain of a sex addict is very similar to that of a drug addict or alcoholic, but although this addiction doesn’t seek out a chemical substance.

The way in which their thinking and behavior are pointed is directly related to an obsessive-compulsive disorder that leads them to focus all their efforts on getting more sexual stimuli. The brain activity of sex addiction reflects the same activity as drug addiction.

Dr. Valerie Moon, as part of the research team of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, says that they still cannot speak of addiction despite a study of 19 adult men which revealed that there is increased brain activity in three specific regions of the brain that coincide with drug and alcohol addiction.


Sex addiction can be assessed to the extent that it affects the emotional health of the person and their ability to lead a completely normal life.

A sex addict’s dominant neurotransmitter is dopamine which is associated with motivation and feedback from rewards. Other recent studies show that there are differences between the brain of an alcoholic and a person who enjoys drinking alcohol without suffering from any dependence.

Chemical processes, neurological function and brain structure are qualitatively and quantitatively different when comparing an alcoholic to the occasional drinker. Could it be the same with sex addicts and people who lead a more or less healthy active sex life?

Knowing whether our brain is addicted

The addict seeks to satisfy his sexual appetite because he needs it, not because he wants it or enjoys it.

In ancient Greece, the pleasurable psychosexual act (eros), carnal enjoyment (aphrodisiac) and friendly relations (agape) were distinguished. However, it is only hypersexuality that is related to material sexual desire, meaning, physical sex or merely aphrodisiac activity.

Despite this, a person who enjoys the most personal experiences of their sexuality does not have to hide a sex addiction.

We know that our brain is addicted to sex and we need to ask for help when the following criteria are met:

  • Everyday life revolves around thoughts, worries and sexual fantasies that are impossible to forget and that generate uncontrollable impulses to satisfy them. The sexual desire is excessive but the lack of control is the backbone of the addiction.
  • Sexual impulse cannot be controlled, prevented or stopped, although it causes serious consequences, danger or physical exhaustion.
  • We don’t seek sex for enjoyment and pleasure, but for the physiological need to reduce the discomfort associated with the inability to control the addiction.
  • We obey repeated hypersexual conduct or behaviors for more than six consecutive months which is not recognized as the mere need to have a random fling while experiencing acute stress.
  • The negative effect is increased. With the evolution of the addiction, there is an enhanced sense of guilt or shame which destroys self-esteem, giving way to depression and self-rejection, and causes emotional, familial and work-related breakups.


There is still much to discover

Sex addiction is only the outlet for people who have not otherwise been able to manage their existential challenges.

Rory Reid, a psychologist at UCLA, confirms that there is still much work to be done regarding the diagnosis, classification and treatment of hypersexuality. He says, “Their brains confirm a high sexual desire in the regions they expected, but the study doesn’t tell us whether these people have a sex addiction.”