THE BLOG

The Need to Question Supposed Certain Sex 'Conditions'

05/20/2011 03:16 pm ET | Updated Jul 20, 2011

Do you have Attention Fibulitis Disorder (AFD)? Known to afflict experts, this condition involves making up information to draw attention to one's self as an authority figure. With the potential to become a popular press plague, this ailment can strike a writer or editor desperate to solicit web page hits or promote a personal value system. Once afflicted, it can be chronic and destructive.

Sound like bull? It is. Yet, many lay readers browsing the Internet are unaware that there are experts out there willing to make up disorders in creating a catchy headliner. The latest to get called out on concocting a condition is CNN blogger and sex expert Ian Kerner, who elicited harsh reactions with Sexual Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD). This "new syndrome" affects men who consume "too much" Internet porn -- to the point that they don't care whether or not the gal they're involved with gets enough attention.

While porn use has definitely become an issue for a number of couples, nowhere is this condition, or one like it, found in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Kerner devised it based on the fact that, despite a lack of diagnostic criteria, he's "seen a sharp increase in men who suffer from it."

With zero hard data or brain research to support SADD's existence, Kerner has cleverly explained that these men "have rewired their brains to crave the instant gratification of porn-enabled orgasm" (a never before scientifically documented type of climax Kerner has apparently also discovered). Ultimately, a guy's intimacy efforts hampered.

Now, you can't blame Kerner for trying to label and explain an issue some in his audience may be grappling with. But his audacity to coin a new phrase, and use his "sex doc" status to justify it, has resulted in misinformation being sent the world over with his blog on CNN.com, his advice column for Ask Men, and any number of sites that steal content from writers.

As has been the case with the pharmaceutical industry's "female sexual disorder," which has little, if any, biological basis, couples are now diagnosing themselves with SADD, oblivious to the blogosphere Kerner has pissed off. Their issue: Kerner has now given guys a fictional disorder to justify their failure to perform, satisfy, or engage in mutual pleasuring. Instead of taking responsibility for being inattentive, selfish, disrespectful or impatient in bed, men can now cite SADD for their compulsive porn consumption and masturbation-induced mental and physical exhaustion.

All of this would be comical if it weren't so sad and disturbing. Not only is Kerner trivializing real disorders, like attention deficit disorder (ADD), but he's also impacting couples' relationships in a way that could prove detrimental. With no clinical guidelines for diagnosis or resolution, couples can find themselves tormented in dealing with a condition that doesn't exist, and one defined by someone who does not have degrees in mental health nor the expertise to define new mental or behavioral disorders.

Kerner is, furthermore, not a member of the American Psychiatric Association nor a psychiatric doctor or nurse, clinical psychologist or social worker, or licensed therapist. Yet, unless you scrutinize his background, he appears to be an authority. On all accounts, this clever marketer appears to be someone to listen to -- and trust. Whether SADD or any other sex 'condition,' be sure to get a second opinion.