David Duchovny's sex disorder likened to alcoholism

Fri Aug 29, 2008 6:00pm EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Did life imitate art when David Duchovny, who plays a sex-mad writer on the hit US TV show "Californication," seek treatment for sex addiction?

Or was it case of art imitating life for the "X-Files" actor -- regarded as one of the hottest men in Hollywood and whose off-screen romances have long been a talking point.

Duchovny's announcement on Thursday that he was voluntarily going into rehab for sex addiction after years of denying he had a problem, threw a spotlight on a disorder that few celebrities, and even fewer ordinary men and women, admit to.

Often likened to alcoholism, drug addiction or gambling, sex addiction is a form of compulsive behavior which is sending growing numbers of people into therapy but which is not formally recognized as a "diagnosable disorder" by the American Psychiatric Association.

"The concept of sexual addiction is a controversial one and that's because it is difficult to define," said Dr. Steve Eichel, an addiction specialist who works in Delaware.

"There are a lot of people who are critical of the concept because we live in a society that tends to over medicalize and which makes every behavior, which deviates from the norm, an addiction or a disorder," Eichel said.

Sexual health experts estimate that about 3-5 percent of Americans have the disorder, including women.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms range from rampant promiscuity to spending hours looking at pornography and using sex to escape from problems such as depression or stress. It is often accompanied by secrecy and shame, and sufferers have difficulties with emotional intimacy.   Continued...

<p>File photo shows David Duchovny in Hollywood, California July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>