Sexual addiction is defined as – Repeatedly and Compulsively using the intensity of the sexual experience to escape and dissociate from stress, emotional discomfort, and the pain of underlying psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, and unresolved early-life, childhood trauma.
This desire for escape and dissociation is also at the core of all other addictions, however, the DSM-V does not include sexual addiction as an official diagnosis. The American Psychiatric Association has offered no explanation for this decision.
Patrick Carnes, PhD, author of Out of the Shadows – Defines Sex Addiction as “a pathological relationship to a mood-altering experience.” He writes, “the dark, secret life of the sex addict becomes more important than everything previously valued including their — Partner, family, work/income, and reputation.”
Sex addiction affects Primarily Men – (85%), but women are increasing. 3 – 6% of the population admits to having an issue, while many more remain in the shadows.
Men are often in denial and brag about having “a high sex drive” and fail to see the disrespect & form of emotional and sexual abuse that their porn and other acting out causes their women. Their wives or partners are usually the person initiating the Couples therapy, or a man will call me once they feel their lives spiral out of control, they have lost their job because of porn use, or their woman has left them.
Partners of Sex addicts (book recommendation: Mending a Shattered Heart)
- Feels lonely, victimized, controlled, pushed for frequent sex, and blamed for his acting out when caught
- Abuser is emotional detached and critical of her performance; looses warmth, affection and kindness towards her
- Feels lied to, manipulated, conned, lacks trust, develops low self-esteem -because she doesn’t feel “good enough”
- Use of Sexual Fantasy causes splitting of personality as emotional and sexual disassociation to real life partner as they emotionally detach
- A secret, hidden double life of lies to self and others occurs. Manipulation, lies, conning, blaming their partner and lack of admitting to affairs or showing any remorse once caught are common.
Self-reporting clients are increasing in therapist’s offices at an alarming rate, due to problematic patterns of compulsive sexual behavior from endless, affordable highly stimulating internet porn and easy, anonymous willing, sexual hook ups through apps and social media.
How does Sexual Addiction Develop?
- Feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, desperation, a sense of failure and low self esteem
- Childhood Trauma – Parental Neglect or no affirmation of love; a child’s sexual development is severely derailed through early sexual use for affection; or a molestation or rape may have happen
- Child uses masturbation as a self-soothing coping mechanism to relieve constant anxiety in a toxic household
- Child confuses sex with love, nurturing and caring
- Sexual acting out often passes through generations
Anonymity and cybersex fuels the addiction, as the client pays to be told how desirable he is; subconsciously healing childhood wounds; leading to becoming obsessed, delusional and detached from reality.
Behaviors and Signs pointing to Addiction include:
- Risky Sex with strangers, paid escorts or prostitutes
- Exposing themselves, or engaging in voyeurism
- Compulsive use of Cybersex and engaging in masturbation with or without porn; and without partner’s knowledge. Loss of significant time while engaging. Irritable, angry or defensive if the client is caught or tries to stop using.
- Uncontrollable, obsessive sexual urges and impulses leading to unsafe sexual hookups. Sexual acts attempt to fulfill deep-seated unmet emotional needs, low self-worth, fears of abandonment, depression & anxiety.
- Obsessive thinking about and planning the next sexual conquest immediately after having one.
- Failed attempts to stop unwanted sexual behavior; seeking sexual experiences w no regard to other’s feelings
- Negative personal consequences from legal problems, loss of job, partner, family
Personality Disorders associated with sexual addiction include – Bipolar, Anti-Social, Borderline, Dependent Personality Disorder, those with PTSD, and substance abusers. See more personality types associated with Toxic relationships in my book, LOVE Beyond Your Dreams – Break Free of Toxic Relationships to Have the Love you Deserve
Healing & Recovery:
- A major component of sex addiction recovery is the Client admitting what has been done, taking responsibility, accepting the consequences, and making amends as best he can.
- Absolute abstinence of all secret engaging in porn, chat rooms, etc – without the partner’s knowledge
- Individual and couples therapy focusing on rebuilding Trust & Integrity
- Bibliotherapy for changing one’s mind-set
- Attending a 12-Step SA group for the client
- Partner advised to attend S-Anon groups. It is important to understand the Psychology behind the Sexual Behavior; identify each person’s needs, and find alternative sources of personal satisfaction and increased Self-esteem.
John Money (1980) a John Hopkins University researcher found the Sexual Neuropathways is the protype of all addictions. Thus like all other addictions, the user puts his sexual needs above the importance of his partner’s feelings, work and all other relationships.
Riana Mine, MA, is a Certified, world-wide Relationship, Love & Life Coach, #1 Best Selling Author, motivational speaker, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Cert Addictions Professional at Therapy by the Sea; 15300 Jog Rd, Suite 109, Delray Beach. Her free App: My Relationship Coach offers more articles and her books, LIVE Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success, and LOVE Beyond Your Dreams – Break Free of Toxic Relationships to Have the Love You Deserve addresses relationships with yourself and others. To learn more about Riana’s Life or Love Coaching programs or suggest a topic, go to Riana’s website, www.RianaMilne.com or email RianaMilne@gmail.com. Worldwide Coaching Phone: (201) 281-7887. Delray office: (561) 701-8277; Skype Coaching and FB: coachrianamilne. #LoveCoach, #LifeCoach, #RelationshipCoach, #SinglesCoach