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Summary

It is argued that a theory of dependence must take into account forms of excessive appetitive behaviour which do not have psychoactive drugs as their object. Excessive heterosexuality is an important but neglected example. Some of the clinical and autobiographical literature on the topic. is reviewed, particularly the extended autobiography My Secret Life. Hypersexuality as an entity has been criticized on a number of grounds: the distribution of sexual behaviour in the population is continuous not discontinuous; the concept is ill defined and rests upon loosely used constructs such as loss of control; it ignores personal and social relativity in the definition of sexual normality, and in particular it betrays the operation of a double standard for judging behaviour of the two sexes. These problems of concept and definition are paralleled in discussions of other excessive behaviours such as excessive drinking and excessive gambling.