Sexual addiction is a pattern of behaviour that
preoccupies an individual. The addict experiences
him/herself as out of control and unable to stop his/her behaviour
despite negative consequences.
The latter may include mounting debts, inability or difficulty to
maintain a relationship, loss of a
meaningful relationship, or legal consequences.
Sex addicts are found in every social class, every religion, and every
profession. Sexual addiction
can take many forms:
Having little control over the use of internet pornography
Consistent use of internet chat lines
Having numerous one-night stands
Using prostitutes on a regular basis
Feeling compelled to take part in sexual encounters, e.g. dogging.
Sex addiction is similar to other addictions such
as drugs or alcohol, in that the behaviour is
used to manage painful feelings. Addicts can often identify a pattern
or cycle they get into. Once
emotional pain is triggered -- this may be sadness, anger, fear, shame,
loneliness, etc. -- the addict distances and dissociates him/herself
from the emotion and moves into
a trance-like state where he/she pursues the sexual behaviour. At this
stage there is no awareness
of negative consequences, and there may be a sense of euphoria at the
thought of the sexual
behaviour. The sexual behaviour is "acted out" and can be but not
necessarily be followed by
feelings of guilt or shame. The cycle starts again when emotional pain
In treating addictive behaviour It is important to understand the
triggers, because this is where the
cycle can be broken. It can also be useful to explore the roots of the
behaviour in family background.
This can give an understanding of the emotional triggers which can
start the cycle.
Most people find it helpful to gain support from more than one source,
for instance, a therapist,
a group of sex addicts, and following a programme on a website.
If you are the person with the addiction, or the partner of the person
with the addiction, Barbara
can work with you on your own or as a couple.
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