United Kingdom of nymphomania

Are the British discovering they're not so abstemious after all?

Published December 21, 1999 5:00PM (EST)

Dec. 21, 1999

Will the U.K.'s national joke, "No sex, please; we're British!" soon be rendered laughable by a plague of nymphomania?

According to worried sexperts quoted in Sunday's Scottish Daily Record, sex addiction is rising in Great Britain. The paper cites the medical journal Sex Addictions and Compulsivity as saying that the erotic ailment may afflict upwards of 6 percent of the population. Stricken victims experience an overwhelming desire to touch strangers, shag prostitutes and surf Internet chat rooms for sex partners.

The libido specialists claim that the typical English, Scottish or Welsh sexaholic is in his or her late 20s or early 30s, has a well-paid job and averages three or four flings a week. If the disease sounds like rollicking fun, it's not: 17 percent will attempt suicide and 80 percent have additional addictions to vices such as gambling, alcohol, work or shopping. According to Scottish sex specialist Dr. Prem Misra, "They will never be cured and will have to learn how to cope with their addiction."

Sex addict and model Amanda Llewellyn-Dawkins of North London, 21, laments that "sex is just like a drug to me," in the Sunday Mirror. "I can only describe it as a strong craving for an orgasm which won't go away ... and the worst thing is that most of the time you don't feel like you're in control."

Her promiscuous disease began when she lost her virginity at 13 with a boy in her school. After that, "The more sex I had, the more I wanted, and with as many sex partners as I could," Llewellyn-Dawkins admits, confessing to 200 lovers in the intervening years. The malady makes it impossible for her to have a loving relationship, she rues, "because you can never stay fulfilled ... Most of my partners I've slept with just once or twice, so there is never any real love involved, even though that is what I want more than anything else."

Sex addicts are generally misunderstood by the restrained U.K. public, who regard them as "slags" (AKA sluts) boinking from one bed to another. But psychologists note that the compulsively loose behavior is in fact a serious psychological disorder similar to anorexia nervosa or drug addiction.

By Hank Hyena

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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