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A sexual addiction is defined as the compulsive pursuit of other people’s sexuality, sexual images, sexual experiences or fantasies, which grows in duration and/or frequency over time, till it intrudes into the rest of one’s life. The compulsive pursuit of these sexual based objects and experiences takes the addict out of control and out of balance in their life, and usually negatively impacts on their work, and their relationships with family and friends.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM-IV), classifies in part, sex addiction as “distress about a pattern of repeated sexual relationships involving a succession of lovers who are experienced by the individual only as things to be used with compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship.”
Given that sexuality has numerous forms of expression then any one of these expressions of sexuality can be the basis for a sexual addiction. Sexual addictions can manifest just in the mind as fantasy and thinking, or can manifest in the body as chronic masturbation, auto-eroticism, and other embodied practices.
The common problem with the sex addict is their insensitivity to the object of their addiction. Many sex addicts report a lack of sensitivity to their real life partners, an over involvement with their egos in life, and a lack of sexual feeling on the bodily level.
Sex addicts often lack sexual feelings which are experienced as love, tenderness, and the longing to connect and be close to another person. Their denial of these feelings because of its association with neediness and vulnerability, which is often a childhood Oral attachment issue, instead drives the BodyMind energy into over excitation of the genitals, and a felt sense of anxiety.
As the BodyMind seeks to discharge this anxiety inducing overcharged state, there is scope for a number of ways of expression. Being a sex addict for one person may mean compulsive masturbation, whilst for another it could express itself in more destructive ways such as the compulsive seeking of new sexual partners.
The discharge process usually is compulsive, aggressive in the sense it is removed from tender sexual feelings, and only provides genital level orgasm. The act reinforces the split of the ego from the feelings, and the body from the head of the person, when viewed from a BodyMind perspective.
In this process there will be a projected sexual image which is used for an aspect of arousal. In this process if the sexual object is a person, then they are used just as an object and are not seen as human, as the addict has removed their feelings, denies their and the others humanity, and is using an image in their mind in the acting out process. Even a sexual partner is reduced to an image in this process.
Treating Sexual Addiction
Treatment of any addiction involves looking at both the payoff and behavioural aspects of the addiction, whilst looking at the background drivers such as anxiety, abuse, trauma or childhood Oral Attachment issues, to name a few.
Treatment will assist in creating boundaries, increasing self-esteem and disarming the compulsion to act out the addictive sexual behaviour. Addictions are often symptoms of other underlying issues which may need to be identified and addressed.
A legal obligation exists with therapists and Counsellors when treating sexual addictions and sexual abuse issues. Please note that in providing therapy or counselling it is mandatory for therapists and Counsellors to report persons who engage in acts which seriously harm others including all acts against the interests of children which may include the use or production of child pornography where there is an identified child victim.
If you feel that commencing Counselling or therapy with us around your sexual issues may expose you to such sanction, we suggest you seek help with an offender counselling organisation.