New Times,
New Thinking.

23 March 2007

We’re all sex addicts now…

My continued bafflement about the modern world

By Ben Davies

We’ve had a busy week here at First of all we’ve been trying some joined-up thinking – creating themed sections for things like our anti-Trident campaign so that you can see our coverage of that issue all in one place. It wasn’t my idea of course but – following a long tradition in the media – I’m happy to take the credit if it works.

One of my colleagues put this to good effect for our special edition on Scotland. We also had some great Budget reaction from Labour leadership wannabee John McDonnell, Tory A-lister Kwasi Kwarteng and our very own Sian Berry – that was on top of analysis in the mag from political editor Martin Bright and social policy expert Donald Hirsch. Up to the minute stuff and just one of the advantages of our new website.

This week, on the blogfront, my personal favourites were Simon Munnery and a fantastic Faith Column. Greek polytheists! James Medhurst gives us another insight into the issues facing disabled people and Life at Findhorn comes from Sierra Leone! Strange but true…


I was watching some TV the other night and an advert came on about the digital switchover. Get in touch, they said, and we can ease you into the 21st century – or words to that effect. And it suddenly dawned on me that maybe, if I simply ignore this technological change, one day my wife will turn on Eastenders and nothing will happen. Granted that’s more or less the status quo but at present it comes with the extremely irritating addition of background noise – which I believe passes for dialogue on that programme. Not changing over – now that really is what I’d call progress…

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Anyway I digress. I was watching some TV the other night and there was a programme about sex addiction starring Ulrika Jonsson. For those of you who don’t know about her – and lack access to Google – she’s a bit of a tabloid favourite over here in Blighty. She has had, if reports are true, a more interesting than average lovelife and many salacious details of this have regularly been our Sunday morning reading material over the past 26 years or so. I exaggerate about the span of time, but only slightly.

I confess I only watched the first 15 minutes of her latest televisual feast, but it became clear quite early on the direction this programme was going. Our TV favourite would head to America where, she would learn about sex addiction. Now, like Ms Jonsson, I thought that being diagnosed as having this condition would have to result from some pretty extreme behaviour. Chronic enjoyment of your own company, that sort of thing. But not so, according to the various experts she talked to across the pond. The definition is much wider. So wide that you could make a really decent living being an expert in this field.

Call me cynical but it seemed to encapsulate a really, really ridiculously large volume of people – pretty much anyone who had mildly messed up their love life a few times. In my book, what all of this is playing on is this trend that increasingly people actually like to be told they have an addiction. In some cases the results of this are relatively innocuous if dull. It’s a talking point – and one which cleverly steers the subject back to x’s problems…

For others somehow it’s a tool whereby they are absolved from responsiblity for their behaviour. For example it seems to help in some jurisdictions when you’re being sued for divorce on the grounds of adultery. It wasn’t me, it was my addiction…

Anyway I’ve no idea what Ulrika concluded but my suspicion is she’s not an addict – just more than averagely dysfunctional! A career as a journalist beckons…

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