A former Army medic admits that he is struggling to find a balance between his sexual urges and caring for his family.
The 51-year-old man who goes by the name of Candy Cane online said that he spends over six hours video-chatting, taking photos of himself, and soliciting male and female sexual partners. He even dresses up in women’s clothing to have cybersex with men.
“I have become reckless and uncaring about losing anything,” the retired combat medic said. “I care more about my sexual urges than my family.”
Although he’s survived two major combats, Cane believes his sexual addiction is the worse battle he has ever faced.
“I am losing control and I am going to end up with an STD or AIDS,” he said.
Cane’s sexual symptoms have been linked to a disorder known as hypersexuality. Psychiatrists are hoping this condition will be added to the DSM-5, the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Dr. Martin Kafka, who is working on the revisions to the DSM, said that mental health experts hope that by adding the disorder to the official list, they can help people like Cane through more research.
“If you review the empirical research literature in the last 20 years from a variety of perspectives, it looks at the problem and calls it by different names, but all of these names have a lot in common when describing the same phenomenon,” Kafka noted.
If recognized, hypersexuality will be identified as the disorder in which a person exhibits repetitive and intense sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors related to the following list of actions:
-Excessive time spent planning and engaging in sex typically when experiencing moods of irritability, anxiety, depression or boredom.
-Exhibiting sexual behaviors in response to stressful life circumstances.
-Disregarding physical or emotional harm the sexual actions can cause to self or others.
The diagnosis must also prove that the behavior causes “clinically significant distress or impairment" that interrupts a person’s home and professional life.
“If this problem gets to the point where you are being labeled as a philanderer or a scoundrel or a nasty narcissist, and it happens there is a label of hypersexuality disorder that does validly describe the nature of your behavior, one possibility is reframing the problem and getting medical treatment,” Kafka said.
Even though the recognition can further research and treatment, some mental health experts believe that adding hypsexuality to the disorder list can be easily abused.
“There may be some very small percentage of people who could qualify for addiction to sex, but if it ever became a diagnosis, it would be wildly misapplied,” said Dr. Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. “Addiction implies that you keep doing it when there is no more pleasure and it causes harm. It becomes an excuse to misbehave.”
Frances, who worked on the revisions to the DSM-4, also believes that there are disorders already on the list that can be viewed as normal behaviors.
“Medicalizing this sort of misbehavior is reducing personal responsibility and acting like there is a medical solution,” Frances said. “There is very little scientific evidence and the boundaries are fuzzy.”
Kafka said that there is more clinical data than scientific information on hypersexuality and adding it to the list can open doors for more specific research.
“By calling it an illness, you could be quite relieved that for something you have not really been able to control on your own, help is available,” he said.
After reading the official description and symptoms of hypersexuality, Cane feels more people would be less likely to judge him if the disorder was recognized as an official mental illness.