When someone wrote to Ask the Bipolar Expert about a bipolar friend addicted to internet pornography, the doctor pointed out that this kind of behavior can be "driven, at least in part, by the physical activation, heightened sensory and sexual interest, and risk-taking that characterize mania." Another celebrated case where sexual gratification overcame all good judgment was that of Mary Kay Letourneau, who had an affair with a 13-year-old boy. Finally, Ask the Bipolar Expert noted that while there have been no systematic studies, there appears to be an unusually high correlation between bipolar disorder and a history of child sexual abuse, which could be explained by the fact that bipolar disorder is so often inherited, and the parent abuser may well have done so due to his or her own manic depression. In these cases, hypersexuality appears to have led to compulsive, reckless, or deviant behavior.
A High Price
Sexual addictions can have a high price: financially, in outrageous charges from prostitutes or phone sex calls; career-wise, if your behavior causes you to lose your job, as could happen, for example, in the case of a person accessing internet pornography on the job; personally, by destroying relationships; and health-wise, if indiscriminate sexual contacts lead to disease. If you are concerned about your own behavior and wonder if you could be struggling with this type of addiction, several online self-tests (see sidebar) are available to assist in determining if you should seek professional advice.
If you are bipolar and experience hypersexuality to a degree that is causing turmoil in your personal life, you need to discuss this with your doctors. If you are determined to have developed a true sexual addiction, then additional sexual counseling/therapy may be necessary in addition to the treatment you are receiving for bipolar disorder.
1Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health
2The Counseling Affiliates - Sexual Addiction
3The Counseling Affiliates - Ibid.
4Compulsive Sexual Behavior
5How to Recognize the Signs of Sexual Addiction - The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity
6The Counseling Affiliates - Op. cit.
7How to Recognize - Op. cit.