People who do not approve of sex and free sexual expression often confuse a wide range of sexual pleasures with addiction. This is especially true for behaviors that might be a little exotic.
It is not so. This is not addiction. Instead, sexual addiction is a compulsive behavior that leaves the addict in a state of total degradation and absolutely no satisfaction.
If this group of addictive behaviors did not include despicable behaviors targeting unwilling victims, these afflicted would be sad. I’d feel bad for them. But it does involve harming others.
I, in no way, shape, or form, condone sexual crime. My experience and work have always been with and for the victims of sex crimes. I studied the behaviors of sex addicts to gain information for my clients.
In this article, we will not be discussing sex. We will be discussing addiction. Remember that in the disease model of addiction, first, we have heredity. A sex addict can look at the history of his or her family and see quite a few relatives with one or more addictive diseases.
This leaves the future sex addict with a high vulnerability to any addictive disease. Personal history and unique biology lead the sex addict to experience sex in a manner that is different from most people.
This is very important to grasp. For the potential sex addict, sex acts of varying sorts, initially leave him or her feeling dynamic, powerful, important, free of life’s problems, and infinitely capable. In this addiction, sex and the behaviors around sex function like a drug. This is the allergy to the chemical or chemicals produced by sexual behaviors.
Some people worry that the good feelings they get from sex, intimacy, and touch ARE an addiction. They can be. But they also can be just plain fun. Addiction has more to it than fun and your body’s reactions to sex, affection, and touch.
As with all addictive behaviors and diseases, you have the issue of tolerance. It is here that problems begin and you get into serious trouble, eventually as perpetrators with the legal system.
Tolerance means that acts and behaviors that gave you your original high stop working. You lose those blissful feelings that they achieved in the past. You develop a tolerance to your behavior of choice. It takes more and different to achieve the high you seek.
You can visualize tolerance from the following image. Fifty years ago, in one of my college psychology classes, the professor was showing us how rats are trained to press a certain bar to obtain food. The rats learn repeatedly that they will be fed their ration of food by pressing that bar. When the food is withdrawn, the rat doesn’t get it. In this analogy, tolerance is equal to no food for the rat and no high for the addict.
So, the rats press the bar over and over again. Then this poor rat presses the bar faster and faster and faster in a true personification of compulsive behavior.
This is today’s metaphor for the fact of progression. Once any addict reaches the point of tolerance, it takes more and more of his or her drug of choice to reach the same high. More and more compulsive behavior. Like all addicts, sex addicts increase their acts or the riskiness of these acts until you leave the relative safety of legal behavior and their own moral code.
Then you face personal consequences that increase over time. Social, family, relationship, employment, spiritual and legal consequences all increase as their disease progresses.
As with all addiction, sex addiction comes with a built-in defensive system designed to keep you imprisoned in your own destruction. Sex addicts daydream grandiose fantasies of success, baldly deny reality, treat the other people around them very badly, blame others for their behavior, joke about their situation, intellectualize, and rationalize both their behavior and their life situation.
Sex Addicts Anonymous says that a sex addict experiences the following:
- “Powerlessness over addictive sexual behavior.”
- “Resulting unmanageability of his/her life.”
- “Feelings of shame, pain, and self-loathing.”
- “Failed promises and attempts to stop acting out.”
- “Preoccupation with sex leading to ritual.”
- “Progressive worsening of negative consequences”
Once, early in my counseling practice, my local police department invited me to sign a contract to treat child victims of sex crimes in our city. As part of this contract, one specific police officer demanded that I have at least two sessions with a perpetrator of sex crimes. This grandfather, a multigenerational perpetrator, insisted that he was the victim and wished to only talk about his childhood. He was in complete denial of his situation and the impact of his behaviors on his daughter and granddaughter.
Personally, I felt like I was in need of a long shower after that conversation. There was nothing sexy, appealing, desirable, admirable, or compassionate in his behavior.
This was an article discussing sexual addiction. If you are questioning your sexual behaviors, there are several twelve step recovery programs. Sex Addicts Anonymous has a website where you can read more and find out about meetings.
If you have been in a relationship with a sex addict, life coaching can help you change your relationship pattern. That way you can experience love, touch, intimacy, and sex without being harmed.
Like all addictions, life coaching can only help sex addicts AFTER they have ceased sexual acting out and worked a 12-step program. This means that they have a sponsor, are actively involved in meetings, worked steps and live a life incompatible with addiction.
Contact me to change your relationship patterns:
Telephone: (615) 464-3791
©2017 by Laura Coleman, Ph.D. All rights reserved.