Salamat Dok tackles Sex addiction

Sex addiction is one of the most sensitive topics especially in a predominantly conservative country like ours. Many are still ashamed or passive in talking about sex, in addition to the problems or concerns that arise from it.

Because this social concern is hardly talked about, when someone goes beyond the perceived “norm,” people tend to indulge in labeling. Like if someone has sex for more than 3 times a day, we misjudge the person and dismiss it as an “addiction.”

To help us understand Sex Addiction, here’s the translated interview with two of the most sought-after psychiatric experts in the country. Here they answered the most commonly asked questions.

Salamat Dok hosts Bernadette Sembrano and Alvin Elchico’s
interview with Dr. Margie Holmes, a prominent Sex Therapist in the country, and Dr. Paul Lee, a consultant psychiatrist at the Manila Doctors' Hospital

What is sex addiction?
Dr. Paul Lee: Sex addiction is quite controversial. It’s easy to be labelled you got addicted with sex. But we have what we call normal sexual practice. That’s part of who we are. There are those who act abnormal. We call it perversion – a kind of sex done beyond the normal. But it depends on the culture or acceptance of society. Usually, there’s an object of desire which is no longer right. For instance, one needs something to stimulate sexual arousal which is not supposed to be done by a normal person.

Dr. Margie Holmes: Sigmund Freud, the Father of psychoanalysis, said that as long as you can love and work at the same time, then you are normal. Let’s say you have sex 7 times a day but you can work well, you can love, you can function. It’s normal.
Why do we have exhibitionists, rapists, incestuous relationships, sex maniacs, voyeur and peeping toms?

Dr. Margie Holmes: It could be possible that something happened when they were young. Something they were taught or trained which they later discovered was exciting to them. For example, a child was spanked. Somehow he got excited. Let’s assume that the person who spanked him was beautiful. This may arouse the spanked child’s excitement. Years later, he needs to be spanked to increase arousal before indulging in sex.
Dr. Paul Lee: Then there’s a different case, somewhat genetic in nature. We call it paraphilia, sexual perversion. Another thing is what’s really happening to the psychological thinking of that person. Sexuality is being used to relate to other somehow in an abnormal way. Sex has a different meaning for him or her. That’s what he or she’s going to use to relate with people.

Is it bad to masturbate more than once a day?
Dr. Margie Holmes: When they talk about compulsive masturbation, it’s not important how many times you do it. It’s more important if you can function and what does it mean to you or what’s the psychological meaning of the act for you. An example which I always give is: You can masturbate everyday but if you can love, you can work in a real way, that’s okay. If you masturbate once a month but if this is your way to relate with people -- because you are afraid -- then even once a month is not good and healthy.

How about orgies?
Dr. Paul Lee: The most important thing is to find out what does sex mean to you. It’s common knowledge that the biggest sexual organ is the mind. When you think of sexuality and have to do it in that setting and it somehow affects yourself and your relation to your social functions or as you relate with people; if it’s not normal for you, I’ll say it’s abnormal, that it’s already wrong.

Who do they go to?
Dr. Paul Lee: Commonly, therapy is a one-on-one thing. It’s curable! To deal with that, we need to understand the patient. We have to go back to his or her history. What really happened? It’s not just giving medications and controlling sexual manifestations. It’s very important that this person go to a therapist and hopefully he or she would trust the therapist to say everything for a better case assessment.
Dr. Margie Holmes: The therapist you choose should be very good. A therapist should not cling to the norms if the norms are outdated. Example, before 1973, being gay was considered paraphilia, meaning the underlying assumption back then that was that it could be cured. Now, we are more broadminded. More studies have debunked the idea that homosexuality is an illness. So now, homosexuality is not considered a sickness. But if your therapist is narrow-minded, or maybe will not accept homosexuality for religious reasons, your therapist should keep in mind not to be judgmental. He or she knows that his or her opinion differs if the patient really sick or not. That’s when therapy becomes difficult.

Is it normal to have sex even for once a month?
Dr. Margie Holmes: It’s very normal because you’re both not fond of it and it’s just okay for you both.

Does masturbating more than once a day affect one’s health?
Dr. Paul Lee: Masturbating more than 3 times a day is normal only if it does not affect your normal functioning and your relationship with people.
Dr. Margie Holmes: It depends on the age. If you finish in 1 minute perhaps it’s not good for your health then if you finish in 30mins or so, it becomes a cardiovascular exercise…

Is it true that if you’re sexually active, it prolongs life?
Dr. Paul Lee: There’s no research that sex promotes longevity.

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