A. Tom Horvath, Ph.D., ABPP, Kaushik Misra, Ph.D., Amy K. Epner, Ph.D., and Galen Morgan Cooper, Ph.D. , edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D.
Sexual addiction is a commonly used term but it is not a diagnostic one. Sexual addiction refers to a specific type of addiction called an activity addiction. There are several ways to know if you or someone you love has an addiction to sex (or pornography). For a simple, informal, self-diagnosis, we refer you to the section entitled, "What is sexual addiction?" In the next section, we review the formal method of determining if someone has a sexual addiction. Professionals call this the diagnostic process, or simply diagnosis.
The diagnostic process in most developed countries follows a predictable sequence. First, the clinician performs an evaluation. The evaluation identifies symptoms. Then, the clinician uses this information to make a diagnosis (or several diagnoses). We might say a diagnosis is a label that summarizes a set of symptoms. In some cases, a diagnosis may also point to the cause of that set symptoms. Once the clinician makes a diagnosis, a treatment plan is then developed. The purpose of the treatment plan is to eliminate or diminish troubling symptoms. Many clinicians apply the medical model to formulate a treatment plan. The medical model rests on the assumption that the reduction of symptoms will lead to improved health and well-being. An alternative model is called psychiatric rehabilitation. In this model, rather than focusing on symptom reduction the treatment plan focuses on improving the quality of life. From this perspective, quality of life improvements lead to symptom reduction.