People in Ireland are still too scared to talk about the darker side of sex – as new figures show a surge in sex addiction since lockdown.
That’s according to Newstalk Breakfast presenter Ciara Kelly who was speaking after a Cork sex therapist warned that his clinic has seen a 400% increase in demand for his sex addiction services.
Sex and Love Therapy (SALT) founder Donal Clifford said he has gone from hosting one sex addiction session a week to five in the space of two years.
He is warning that pornography addiction is playing a part and is urging anyone who thinks they are addicted to sex to reach out for help.
Ciara said she was not surprised at the figures.
“I think, first of all - and maybe it is a gross generalisation - but within the Irish psyche, we seem to lean in a little bit into addictive behaviours,” she said.
“I say that based on our relationship with drink but also because we have one of the highest levels of gambling spends per capita in the world.
“So maybe we do have that in us and whether that is nature or nurture I don’t know but I’m not surprised that sex addiction, which is another one of those addictive compulsive behaviours where you are looking for a dopamine hit all the time, is there.”
Let's talk about sex
She said Ireland has come a long way since sex was a taboo subject – but people are still afraid to talk about the more problematic side of things.
“The reality of it is the darker side of sex - the porn, the sex addiction, the difficulties with libido or erectile dysfunction or all those things – we’re really squeamish about all of that stuff.
“I imagine that sex addiction is not something you talk to your mates about in the pub and I think that creates a problem because, if you can’t talk about it, it’s very difficult to deal with it.”
"Sex is absolutely everywhere"
Shane agreed that Irish people tend to lean into these things – but insisted Irish people talk about sex everywhere.
“You hear it a lot about, oh yeah, we’re afraid to talk about sex – but every time you pick up a paper there is a problem page with a pretty graphic discussion about sex,” he said.
“Most times you turn on the telly, on chat shows - I was listening to a pretty graphic discussion on a chat show on RTÉ on Saturday night at 9:30pm - I think sex is everywhere.
“I wonder is the problem actually … I mean, we didn’t have a problem with sex addiction 30 or 40 years ago when sex was definitely swept under the carpet.”
He noted that Ireland now takes sex addiction far more seriously than it has in the past.
“Personally, I don’t sense much embarrassment out there about sex,” he said. “I think sex is absolutely everywhere.”