Ground-Breaking News: Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder Classified in the ICD-11

For years there was an ongoing debate about the legitimacy of sex addiction. For those of us in the field working with those devastated by this addiction or in recovery ourselves, there was no question that this addiction was valid. For us, this belief was much more than blind faith. There was a growing body of evidence that backed up what we knew and experienced. Still, the official sex addiction diagnosis that would increase the credibility of this work and allow more people to get help had not yet materialized. Until now.

In a ground-breaking move, The World Health Organization just classified compulsive sexual behavior as a mental health disorder! Among the potential ramifications of this decision, this classification could “help change the disorder’s perception from a moral failing to simply a medical issue” (USA Today).

Robert Weiss, a leading expert in the field of sexual addiction treatment commented on the importance of this diagnosis saying that “This is, without doubt, a watershed moment for the mental health and addiction communities. It’s similar to when alcoholism and drug addiction were finally officially recognized in the 1970s. This really is a big deal.”

For those interested, the new ICD-11’s description of Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder is as follows:

Compulsive sexual behaviour disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour. Symptoms may include repetitive sexual activities becoming a central focus of the person’s life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities; numerous unsuccessful efforts to significantly reduce repetitive sexual behaviour; and continued repetitive sexual behaviour despite adverse consequences or deriving little or no satisfaction from it. The pattern of failure to control intense, sexual impulses or urges and resulting repetitive sexual behaviour is manifested over an extended period of time (e.g., 6 months or more), and causes marked distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. Distress that is entirely related to moral judgments and disapproval about sexual impulses, urges, or behaviours is not sufficient to meet this requirement.”

May this monumental move forward pave the way for the many needing hope and help in their battle with sex addiction. The world is finally waking up to the reality that sexual compulsivity is serious.


Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery & Program Development Director of LifeSTAR Sacramento. Please follow LifeSTAR Sacramento on the following platforms:  Blog, TwitterFacebook and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

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