Updated 13 July 2018

Compulsive sexual behaviour classified as a mental condition by World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified compulsive sexual behavior as mental health condition.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified compulsive sexual behaviour as mental health condition.

Releasing their updated list for June, WHO defined compulsive sexual behaviour disorder as a "persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behaviour.”

They further add that the disorder is not about the amount of sexual partners a person has, but rather when someone’s sexual behaviour becomes a “central focus of the person's life to the point of neglecting health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities.”

Someone can be diagnosed with the disorder if their behaviour continues for a period of six months or more and causes distress in their personal lives.

WHO’s classification of compulsive sexual behaviour has not been without controversy.

According to CNN, Dr. Timothy Fong, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, disputed the classification, saying, “Some people would say if it looks like an addiction and smells like an addiction and there are 12-step groups to help people with the addiction, then it is, but the psychological community is split into different camps. Some say it is addiction, and some of those say people just have different libidos.”

However, Dr. Valerie Voon, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told the New York Post the new classification would take away the shame from sufferers of the behaviour.

“It is a behaviour that tends to be hidden as it’s shameful and often sex addicts don’t come forward, she said. “Adding this to the WHO list is an excellent step for patients as it allows them to recognize that they are suffering with a problem — it takes it out of the shadows and they are able to seek help for it.”

Sources: WHO, CNN, New York Post