On the latest episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Scott Disick confessed to being a “horrible sex addict” — a sound bite that was teased in the trailer for the entire season. After all, it does make for a juicy storyline.
But the truth about sex addiction, which we’ve heard about from celebrities before, is more complicated. Ian Kerner, a New York City-based sex therapist who treats people who identify as sex addicts, tells Yahoo that the condition is “not real” from a scientific perspective, because it “is not a scientifically research-based valid diagnostic clinical category.”
Still, Kerner adds that behaviors associated with sex addiction are real. The sexual behaviors that the person continues to do, despite negative consequences, are symptoms of another mental health issue, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression.
Louise Stanger, an addiction specialist for more than 30 years, maintains that sex addiction is “like any other addiction.”
“It’s known as a process disorder,” Stanger told Yahoo in August 2016. “Whether or not you’re looking at porn, actively seeking out other partners, or seeking out sexual favors by payment or otherwise, that becomes the most important thing in your mind. Everything else becomes less important. Think of an addiction as someone having a love affair with a substance; in this case, instead of a substance, it is sexual activity.”
In Disick’s case, he later copped to making the sex addiction claim just to get out of a situation. (Sigh, that’s so Scott.)
“Saying I’m a sex addict is honestly the first thing that popped into my head,” Disick said in a confessional interview after he was confronted by the Kardashian clan about why he brought another woman on their family trip. “I don’t really think it’s my actual problem, but, you know, it’s definitely not easy hearing everyone attack me. … I don’t know, literally, what else to say.”
In other cases, celebs were very serious about their public declaration of being a sex addict, at least before they later took it back.
The Prince of Darkness said a sex addiction was to blame for his philandering, which included a four-year relationship with a celebrity hairstylist that was revealed in a magazine in August 2016. A rep for the rocker defended him with an unsurprising statement: “Over the last six years, Ozzy Osbourne has been dealing with a sex addiction.” Ozzy underwent “intense therapy” and rekindled his relationship with wife of more than three decades, Sharon Osbourne.
Ultimately, he also decided that he was not a sex addict, saying, “I just got caught, didn’t I?”
A Thanksgiving car crash in 2009 led to the revelation that the golfer had mistresses in the double digits, which understandably didn’t sit well with his wife, Elin. After being treated for sex addiction at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, in Hattiesburg, Miss., Woods held a press conference in which he publicly admitted: “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did was not acceptable.” The whole thing was painful to watch — all 13-plus minutes of it — and at the end of the day it didn’t save his marriage.
Even before Charlie Sheen’s revelation that he’s HIV-positive, there was talk of him having a sex addiction because of his fondness for prostitutes. During an interview with Dr. Oz in 2013, he admitted that, “sure,” he’s a sex addict, but in true Sheen form added, “I mean, I don’t know the definition of it.”
On the other hand, Russell Brand does know the definition of it — and he fits the bill. In his 2007 memoir My Booky Wook, he detailed the sexploits that led him to seek treatment at a Philadelphia facility. (Leading up to it, he said he had a “harem of about 10 women, whom I would rotate, in addition to one-night stands and random casual encounters.”) So was he cured? “It depends what you want from a sex rehabilitation center,” Brand said. “If what you want is to come out with a renewed interest in sex, then it was an absolute triumph.” But seriously, he added: “It worked to a point. It’s modulated my conduct.”
For years, there was gossip that Duchovny was in the sex addict camp, so much so that his then-wife, Téa Leoni, was asked about it in a 1998 interview with Elle. “David was accused of being a sex addict, which I always found very exciting. And then I found out it wasn’t true,” she quipped. A decade later, it was. While starring as bad boy Hank Moody on Californication, the actor, who was still married to Leoni at the time, went into rehab “for the treatment of sex addiction,” his attorney said in a statement to ABC News.
When the Ashley Madison breach happened last year, Duggar was one of the men revealed to have used the website. The 19 Kids and Counting star, who was working as a lobbyist for the ultraconservative Family Research Council, was using the cheating site to sneak around on his wife, Anna, with whom he has four children. After dubbing himself “the biggest hypocrite ever,” he checked himself into a faith-based “long-term treatment center” in Rockford, Ill. He’s still with his wife, and a fifth child is on the way, but he’s now selling used cars instead of pushing his moral code.
Benét also went into treatment for sex addiction, while his marriage to Halle Berry was falling apart. After he was unfaithful in 2002, he checked into a facility, but it wasn’t a cure-all. “Going into rehab was presented to me by [Halle’s] mother that in order for the marriage to have a shot, this is what you need to do,” he told People magazine three years later. “But I’m not a sex addict. I wanted to save my marriage and do anything necessary to do that. I went and heard other people’s stories and realized this is really not my struggle.” While the couple briefly reconciled, the singer, who is now married to Manuela Testolini, said, “She just couldn’t trust me anymore.” He added, “You can’t blame her for that.”
Read more from Yahoo Celebrity: