A motivation model of sex addiction – Relevance to the controversy over the concept

Toates, Frederick (2022). A motivation model of sex addiction – Relevance to the controversy over the concept. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 142, article no. 104872.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2022.104872


An integrative model of sexual addiction is presented, involving a combination of models based upon (i) incentive motivation theory and (ii) the dual organisation of the control of behavior. The model is related to ongoing arguments about the validity of the notion of addiction when applied to sexual behavior. It is suggested that the evidence strongly favors the viability of an addiction model of sex. Strong similarities to the classical addiction to hard drugs are observed and features can be better understood with the help of the model. These include tolerance, escalation and withdrawal symptoms. It is argued that other candidates for accounting for the phenomena, such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, faulty impulse control, high drive and hypersexuality do not fit the evidence. The role of dopamine is central to the model. The model’s relevance to stress, abuse, development, psychopathy, fantasy, sex differences, evolutionary psychology and the interaction with drug-taking is shown.

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