The recent Tiger Woods incident has reignited the concept, “sexual addiction” (hyper-sexuality). This is a “claimed addiction” that many believe is used as an excuse when one gets caught or accused of “excessive” sexual indulgence. Many people have claimed to suffer from this disease, such as music artist and producers, Eric Benet and Kirk Franklin.
There are also certain individuals who exhibit the traits of a hyper-sexual however, have never been diagnosed. This may be due to an unwillingness to accept responsibility, safeguard to protect their image to include infidelity issues as well as to not be seen as inferior or defective. Often times, the individual will choose to completely ignore the psychosis and its affects.
Former NBA star, Wilt Chamberlain claimed to have had intercourse with 20,000 women over his lifetime, but never claimed to be a hyper-sexual. President Bill Clinton has been the focal point of several incidents involving sexual misconduct but never claimed to be a sexual addict.
The Myth of Black Hyper-Sexuality
African-Americans have been stereotyped as Jezebels and Mandingos for decades. These stereotypes originated as a result of Europeans conducting expeditions to Africa during early 1500’s. These travelers were unable to identify with the scantly dressed Natives and their cultural ignorance led to a prejudice judgment of Africans observed as being “hyper-sexual,” according to Patricia Hills Collins (Black Sexual Politics)
This misinterpreted observation was reinforced by the African practice of polygamy and tribal dances which appeared as provocative gyrations and over-sexed movements of the body.
Dutch explorer William Bosman once described Black women inhabiting West Guinea “as fiery, warm and so much hotter than the men.” Bosman’s judgment was based on a complete disregard of differentiation between European (The Elizabethan image) and African cultures.
According to Dr. Frances Cress Welsing (The Issis Papers), “Africans were saddled with this stereotype, and it was used as a tool to reinforce the slave industry and further dehumanize victims of indentured servitude. During slavery, Africans were sexually exploited at the hands of their slave owners, who often, after raping an African female attributed his actions to the supposed ludeness, promiscuity and nymphomania of the African slave, according to Beth Maina Ahlberg, (Is Their a Distinct African Sexuality). This philosophy of African sexuality was embraced and considered normal behavior for African Americans. During the early to mid 1900’s, it was common to find such items as swizzle sticks, ceramic figures, art work and mugs simulating oversexed Black women. This idea was conveyed by over emphasizing their breast, hips, thighs and behinds as a way to ridicule the physique of African women. In addition, African males were viewed as animalistic beings, with a high sex-drive. Just as the women were viewed for sexual purposes, the males were often sized up per their sexual prowess. This practice continued well into the 70’s.
By the early 1970’s, African-American women were still being portrayed as mammies in mainstream films. African-American men were portrayed as chauffeurs, butlers or villains. African-American film producers, unhappy with this image branched out to produce their own movies. Their mission to create characters who were not subservient, but appreciated as individuals of the Black revolution free thinking, forceful and beaming with Black power and pride. However, like the early deceptions of the Black film industry, they actually churned out movies such as, “Sweet Back,” “Coffey” and numerous other films that reinforced the idea of hyper-sexuality. The image of Africans and African-Americans derived from the perspectives of mainstream media is still misinterpreted today, but now it is hip-hop lyrics and music videos exhibiting what many young artists consider musical expression. While their critics perceive these images to be another form of hyper-sexuality.
The term hyper-sexuality was first used in 1945 by Vienna Native Otto Fenichel (1897-1946) an Austrian physician and psychoanalysis expert (Out of the Shadow, understanding sexual addiction, By Patrick Carnes, PHD). Hyper-sexuality is an unproven psychosis that covers vast gray area, and the existence of the condition is not universally accepted by sexologists or those in the clinical field.
Its origin and validity have been debated. Skeptics believe it is a myth and the phenomenon does not exist as a disease or a disorder at all. Instead it is a result of geo-cultural differences and a number of other influences.
Currently, there is no consensus regarding whether sexual addiction exist, and if it does, the scientific community ponders the thought of how to describe the phenomenon.
It is believed by some that hyper-sexuality is literally a process addiction (chemicals released from the brain) unlike alcohol and drug addictions (chemicals from external source). Others believe it is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder.
One example of the scientific community’s ambivalence toward hyper-sexuality is that it is listed in the diagnostic manual \ ICD-10 Treatment Manual (World Health Organization) rather than in the DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association).
Within the last two or three decades clinicians and academia have begun to better understand the problem, unlike in the past when society was unwilling to take a honest and investigative look at hyper-sexuality. It is also important to note that hyper-sexuality isn’t gender based and can occur in juveniles (juvenile hyper-sexuality) and senior citizens as activity will often surface as a concurrent psychosis alongside dementia.
The term sexual addiction is used to describe a person who has an unusually intense sex drive, or has an obsession with sex. Being so preoccupied with the thought of sex dominates the sex addicts thinking and prevents the individual from engaging in work or having healthy personal relationships. Behaviors associated with sexual addiction include unsafe sex, multiple anonymous sexual partners, consistent use of pornography, compulsive self stimulation (masturbation), multiple affairs, phone or computer sex, exaggerated involvement in prostitution, sexual harassment, voyeurism (watching others in sexual activity), obsessive dating through personal ads, frequent visits to massage parlors, and excessive lap dances at strip clubs.
Generally, a sexual addict gains little pleasure from sexual activity and is unable to form a bond with his or her partner. The actions of a hyper-sexual often lead to feelings of guilt, embarrassment and shame. The sexual addict overlooks the risks and consequences, be it financial, health, social or emotional.
Hyper-sexuality can be a result of adrenal gland abnormalities or disease, bipolar disorder sometimes referred to as manic depressive disorder and often associated with juvenile hyper-sexuality, puberty, frontal lobe trauma; it has also been observed in the elderly suffering from dementia.
When a patient has been impacted by one of the aforementioned conditions, physicians will use drug therapy to control episodes of hyper-sexuality. Hyper-sexual patients may also receive medication and go through a treatment process similar to drug addicts or alcoholics, individual counseling, education, support groups, marital or family counseling and a 12-step program. Researchers believe this treatment may be effective because hyper-sexuality, alcohol and drug addiction may impact the ‘reward centers’ of a person’s brain, creating a feeling of pleasure.
To further validate our research we conducted two field studies, one male and one female both exposed to hyper-sexuality.
Interview #1 Exotic dancer/ stripper
Mercedes (M): (alias/stage name), Age 28. 1 daughter 7 years old.
OurWeekly (OW): How long have you been a stripper?
M: I am not a stripper, I am an exotic dancer. I have been dancing since I was 19 years old.
OW: How often do you work?
M: I work Wednesday-Saturday, about 4-5 nights a week.
OW: How did you get involved in exotic dancing?
M: My girlfriend was already dancing and I was hanging out with her and noticed how much money she was making and I decided to try it. I got hooked on the fast money.
OW: How does it make you feel?
M: I feel like a star, I have power. That is what dancing gives me.
OW: How much are you making?
M: The pay varies, before the down turn in the economy, about two years ago I was making $400 per night and that was after tip outs. Now, during the recession I get $400-$500 a week. I plan to retire due to my age and the (economy).
OW: Can you explain tip-outs for the readers?
M: Tip-outs is what the club gets.
OW: Let’s talk about your clients. How many regular clients come to see you exclusively?
M: On a weekly bases, about 20.
OW: Describing your typical client, do you believe any of them are hyper-sexual?
M: The typical guy, no. They come here to have a good time. Our club is the Black man’s “Cheers.” If you think about it, there are no sports bars in this area for African-American men to hangout with their friends and have a good time.
OW: So, you would not say that men who visit “these clubs” often have a sexual addiction?
M: Typically not, as there is no sex going on here, just fantasy. If I am going to hook up with a guy, I need to know him and see if I can trust him. I think a guy would go elsewhere to get more action. However, I do have this one client who comes in almost every time I work my shift. I would say he has some form of sexual addiction. But, I work the night shift and those guys are a lot different from the guys who come here during the day. I believe this is due to the club having (fewer) bouncers and security during the day. They feel they can get away with a lot more. They, (customers) will attempt to break the club rules.
OW: Speaking of your client you feel might be a sexual addict, why do you feel he may be this way?
M: This guy can’t get enough. He will typically get six or more private dances, when he comes in. I have gotten to know him for the last three years that he has been coming in and he comes in exclusively to see me. He is financially secure, and money isn’t an issue. It appears that he just doesn’t get enough and I think being in here for him is a safe alternative. Honestly, I think that he could afford more, if he wanted to. I’ve asked him why he comes in so much and doesn’t get a regular girlfriend. He tells me, “He likes the way the club makes him feel, he can say what he wants, he can say things that he would not say to a girlfriend and not fear my reaction and that I will not be judgmental towards him. Also, he has a high-stress job in the financial industry. He is up at weird hours working; he believes this place is a release factor for him. Recently he has been involved in a relationship and he thinks that she is unaware of his activity and since he is taking care of her financially she doesn’t ask many questions.
OW: What do you mean that he say’s things to you that he can’t say to his girlfriend. Can you elaborate more?
M: I think it is a combination of the alcohol, half naked women and being in a good mood. But, we all know it is just club talk, it’s just club talk.
OW: So Mercedes, being in this environment would you classify yourself as a sex addict?
M: It’s a job. I sell fantasies but, there are a couple of clients that I would not mind being in a relationship with. However, since I am a dancer, it would not work.
OW: Lastly, have you had any visits with VIP’s?
M: No, not really because it would be too high profile for them. However, there are underground crews that service this clientele. I have worked a few, but I will not identify any of my clients or any underground clubs.
Interview #2 Former Hyper-Sexual, cocaine addict
Tom (T): (alias) Age 54, divorced, 2 sons, 3 daughters (all adults)
Occupation: Former Peace Officer California Department Corrections, Fred C Nellis School
OW: How were you introduced to cocaine (freebasing).
T: During the drug epidemic in the 1980’s that overwhelmed South Los Angeles, old high school friends, even a few Frat brother’s.
OW: Were you a drug addict or a sex addict.
T: I was both , I knew a young lady who would smoke and have sex after she put the pipe down, and she was gorgeous. When I bought my first pack, I picked her up and we went to the motel and everything went down hill after that first blast. My marriage, my job, I lost everything.
OW: Twenty years ago did you think you were hyper-sexual, or that your actions were out of the norm?
T: I had a drug addiction that included sexual acts. When I look back, it was an epidemic and certain areas in the neighborhood had a crack house that included sexual activity, (strawberries). I would work all week as a correctional officer, we were assigned to dorms (cottages) to supervise with a staff ratio of 3 staff per 80 residents, it was very stressful. We would have extra staff during movement control. On the weekend, I would smoke up until I had to prepare for my shift Monday morning, I would stop smoking and having sex Sunday evening.
OW: So you would have sex all weekend?
T: I wouldn’t consider it sex. Well sometimes it was sex. I would take a hit (smoke) and be given oral pleasure by a female, I would then have another female perform the same act, this would continue until may be four or five have participated. Through this process I got more for my buck.
OW: This appeared normal behavior to you?
T: Taking into consideration the environment, you did not give it much thought. I mean the area of the neighborhood was called low bottom.”
OW: In retrospect, do you think your sexual behavior was normal?
T: My actions were a result of drug addiction first, the sex was just a part of the routine.
OW: How about the time period prior to Friday night, would you have an urge for sex first or cocaine ?
T: Cocaine. The sex was automatic, one partner, and two partners, whatever you wanted. However I was a functional addict initially, before things got out of hand. I knew I was an addict based on the same preparation process involved: call the girl, buy the dope, and get rid of the wife and kids, and go get high. You could have timed me, as I had the same actions during the same time each week.
It appears that there is no substantial scientific data evidence validating the existence of hyper-sexuality and there is no data stating that hyper-sexuality does not exist. It appears to be an enigma in the world of sexology and psychiatric medicine. However, if you are a celebrity and you get caught with your pants down it is an excellent excuse, unable to prove and unable to disprove. Although, sexual hyper activity does exist as a psychosis in individuals exhibiting other neurological disorders.