Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sex addiction is a genuine problem...not just titillating headlines

A Playboy playmate recently revealed on television that she's a recovering sex addict, according to a piece in Huffington Post. I read this with trepidation, betrayal having led me to learn more about sex addiction than I ever dreamed. In fact, I, like many people, assumed sex addiction and sex fanatic were pretty much the same thing – someone who loved sex. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, I figured. Sex was good. It was healthy. Between consenting adults, what the heck was the problem?
The comments section of the HuffPo post confirmed this view, including one from a guy suggesting that he could take care of her problem. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Jeez, guys can be such sophomoric asses sometimes...but, oops, I digress.
The problem, as it turns out, is that sex addiction is nothing remotely fun or free-spirited or healthy. It's a life of shame, self-loathing and such detachment from intimacy that relationships become reduced to transactions. While there's no definitive path (some sex addicts indulge in porn, others engage in physical sex acts, some masturbate compulsively alone, others become voyeurs), most share similar backgrounds and a lack of healthy coping mechanisms.
So why be uncomfortable with the playmate's disclosure? My fear is that it feeds society's fascination with sex – addiction simply being one more branch on the tree. It becomes something that's viewed as "liberated" or "free-thinking". It's in keeping with people's assumption that it's about gorgeous playmates, wild orgies... The truth is far less titillating. Like any addiction, it destroys lives, marriages, families, careers.
But, like any addiction, it can be wrestled to the ground...with insight, commitment and hard work.
If you suspect your husband's infidelity is the result of sex addiction, please take a look at the Web site of Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the field of sex addiction research and treatment. It's excruciating to face -- for both the addict and his family – but even more excruciating is to live the life of an addict.

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