I’d be very interested to know what the definition of “a sex addict” is. As a European it feels to me as if it’s just another version of the standard US Victorian fear of sexuality, manifested in politically correct pseudo-therapeutic fancy dress. Presumably if we seek loving relationships we’re therefore love addicts? Or if we seek to succeed at work we’re achievement addicts? It’s unclear to me how one would draw the line between normal human impulse and addiction in the absence of truly addictive exogenous factors (such as, for example, nicotine, opiates, or other compounds whose impact on the brain is well known). This is especially true as there seems to be a Gaussian distribution of sexual appetite, just as there is for height, intelligence, and other aspects of human variability. So a naturally highly-sexed person must consequently be “an addict” whereas an asexual person is not? This doesn’t seem to be an approach devoid of obvious flaws.

As for pornography and one’s reaction to it, I suspect this is more a case of emotional maturity than anything else. Just as we respond favorably to sweet things and cartoons when we are small but later we prefer savory foods and the novels of Hemingway, James, and Faulkner, so with pornography: at first it’s novel and stimulating but after a time one realizes it’s nothing more than a clothes-free version of English pantomime with its stock situations and required tropes. That’s why as adults we go to the opera or the ballet instead.

Regarding sexual shame, while I accept entirely the fact that dysfunctional US attitudes towards sexuality are deeply unhelpful, I can’t help thinking that “dirty” etc. is more a function of the persistent infantilism that is characteristic of US culture and less a function of individual shame. Just as small children make jokes about pee and poop but grow out of this and become more mature in their humor as they grow older, so too I suspect people could grow out of the “dirty nasty” phase were US culture to promote more adult modes of thinking and interacting. I’m struck by the fact I’ve never heard a European woman use these words either in bed or outside of it, which perhaps lends some support to the notion of immaturity rather than shame being in many cases the root cause of such thinking.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.