What is sex addiction?
Carnes lists ten signs of sex addiction:
1. The pattern of uncontrolled behavior – the quantity, duration, and duration of sexual behavior deviate from what the person originally intended to happen. Addicts can see that they are risking their lives and still pursuing the same patterns of sexual behavior. A normal person can at times be caught in excess sexual behavior but he knows how to balance himself and return to levels of sexual behavior more comfortable and safe. The sex addict is unable to do so and experiences loss of control over his sexual behavior.
A familiar scenario for sex addicts is to conduct cycles of destructive love affairs followed by a period of meaningless and destructive sexual activity. They feel that the next novel is the immediate solution to their pain and soon develops an obsessive love towards the object of falling in love. He can not stop meeting with the same person even though it is clear to him that the relationship is hopeless and has no future.
2. Serious Implications of Sexual Behavior In his studies, Carnes found numerous ways in which sex addicts harmed themselves and others in the context of sexual behavior:
* Many tell of an experience close to death due to accidents, violence, situations of risk or rape.
AIDS is the most deadly complication of addiction.
* Many of the addicts (40%) lost a spouse or a life partner and most experienced serious marital and relationship problems (70%).
* Some of the addicts lost the right to see their children (13%) and some felt it necessary to sever their ties with the family of origin (8%).
* Sex-addicted women reported experiences of deep mourning for abortions (36%) and unwanted pregnancies (42%).
* Many of the addicts had heavy economic consequences (58%).
* Some of the addicts reported losing their opportunity to pursue a career they had dreamed of (27%).
* Most addicts reported significant damage to their productivity at work (79%) and 11% were demoted as a result of addiction.
* Many addicts continue their behaviors over and over again to a state of exhaustion (59%) or even to a state of physical injury (38%).
* Most addicts said they were at constant risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (65%).
* 58% did acts for which they could be arrested by the police, and 19% were actually arrested.
Suicidal feelings lost years, risk situations and sexually transmitted diseases are among the most common consequences of sex addicts.
3. Inability to stop despite the devastating consequences – Although the addict is well aware that he is bringing disaster upon himself, he is unable to stop: huge financial expenses due to sexual habits, the risk of catching and infecting permanent partners with venereal diseases, a chaotic life full of tension and concealment are the main examples . The effects of addiction become more and more extensive over time.
4. Persistent pursuit of situations of self-destruction and significant risks – deliberate attempts to continue addictive behavior under conditions of objective and serious risk. For example, having sex with someone who is known to have AIDS or abandoning herself to situations where violent men can hurt her in various ways while she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Sex addicts find themselves doing dangerous things. However, they ignore reality and deny it. This is the mechanism of denial known to addicts of various kinds. Denial allows the dangerous behavior to continue.
On the face of it, it seems as if such behavior exists in people on the margins of society, but reality shows that they are also common among people with a respectable social status, higher education, and above average intelligence. These people also hide these behaviors so long as they do not interfere with their normal way of life and will not harm their status.
5. Consistent desire and effort to limit sexual behavior – almost all addicts promise to stop the behavior. They promise to stop just after this last time or tomorrow. In practice, it never happens.
Sometimes they try to stop altogether, sometimes just to reduce. As the addict makes more attempts to control behavior, the problem worsens, like a diet: people who engage in compulsive diets starve themselves and then eat uncontrollably, moving like a pendulum between opposing ends in a futile attempt to control their food intake.
Sex addicts will go to extreme behaviors to limit their sexual activity. These periods are called sexual anorexia when all sexual impulses and behaviors will be under strict control. In practice, these patterns intensify addiction.
6. Sexual obsession and fantasies as a central coping mechanism – The preoccupation with sex becomes in the addict an anesthetic, a remedy for internal pain. The constant preoccupation with planning, thinking about the subject and looking for an opportunity become a way of life that allows him to pass his day in peace. In this state of sexual numbness, it is very difficult to “reach” a person in therapeutic ways. He loses himself within the addiction. Sex becomes for the addict the main means of managing his emotional life. Sex ceases to be an option, it becomes an essential need and survival in the addict’s experience. Obsession becomes the dominant factor in the world of the addict.
In professional literature, the term acting out is used, which means that an addict relieves the tension that he has accumulated and the anxiety he feels by looking for sexual release. This can be expressed at the beginning of a new affair, compulsive masturbation or self-disclosure inside the car. The addict seeks sexual excitement, total concentration in the sexual experience that gives him relief from the problems that really bother him.
Sex addicts use their sexuality as a remedy for insomnia, anxiety, pain, and problems in life and family.
7. Increasing levels of sexual activity because the current level is no longer adequate – in every addiction there is a phenomenon in which the addict needs an increasing amount of the substance to which he or she is addicted, to achieve the same level of emotional relief, as well as sex addiction.
8. Extreme mood changes around sexual activity – In response to shame and fear of his own behavior, the addict distanced himself from his closest relatives, not sharing his pain. The more his behavior becomes extreme, the more his life becomes a double life: on the one hand, the normative figure, perhaps a loving partner and devoted father, and on the other the addict who is an exploiter and without control.
The life of the addict is therefore similar to a roller coaster. After promising himself to stop, he enters a period of rigid control until the next eruption brings him closer to despair. The shame drives the addict’s behavior and is also the result. He sees that other people are able to set limits on their own sexual behavior and wonders why he can not, why he is not normal. He is ashamed of himself.
Due to the silence that characterizes the subject, the addict believes that he is the only one in his situation. The culture in which we live denies the problem or makes it easier for us. This further increases the sense of despair of the addict who is aware of the severity of the problem.
Many addicts come from a family background where they learned that sex is bad. While they enjoy it despite these messages, with the passing of time a good sex in their eyes must also be bad, to be good … and so only the sexual behavior involved in addiction is sufficient.
Incest survivors who felt sexual pleasure during the attack carry a double burden of shame. Victims of violence and sexual abuse who experience a mixture of pleasure, pain and shame are unable to distinguish between fear and sexual excitement. The same factor that contributes to their despair, makes sexual behavior even more attractive, in that the forbidden is somehow better.
The other factor contributing to the addict’s despair is the experience of weaning. Sex addicts report symptoms that correspond exactly to the addiction of cocaine addicts. The most common physical symptoms include dizziness, body aches, headaches, insomnia and extreme restlessness. Addicts who have been deprived of both drug addiction and sex addiction report that withdrawal from sex addiction is more difficult. Although the physical symptoms are not so severe, the endurance is longer and more painful.
Addicted to life on the edge, only a few steps distinguish them from their pain. They push themselves back and forth until the inevitable fall. 89% of the Carnes study participants put themselves in a state of mental exhaustion. 72% thought suicide as the only way to end their addiction. 17% made a suicidal attempt. When addicts feel isolated and different from all other people, they lose hope. In such a state of pain, suicide seems to be a reasonable option.
9. Exploiting unreasonable time in attempts to achieve sex, sexual behavior, or recovery from sexual experience – for sex addicts, sex obsession becomes the principle around which their lives are organized. Everything revolves around sex. Clothes, food, sleep, work, and pass are the second priority. Most of the addict’s time is devoted to achieving sex, sexual behavior or dealing with the various consequences. One of the things the addicts regret is the time wasted on their addiction.
Another source of time wasting is related to dealing with the consequences of addiction. You have to cover up the lies, you have to calm down and compensate sadly and hurt couples. The financial deficits should cover and the diseases must be cured. In addition to this, angry spouses, policemen, disappointed bosses, neglected children, and all require time, the addicts feel haunted by these problems and run away, how not, into sexual behavior.
10. Neglect of important activities related to social life, employment and relationships, because of sexual behavior – friends, family, work and hobbies, all on fire for the sake of engaging in sex. A businessman plans his business trips according to sexual possibilities and not according to business interests. Decision-making becomes focused on gender and its considerations rather than on judgment.
There is no better place to see this fact than the relationship of the addict. As addiction worsens, most of the energy of addicts is invested in relationships that have sexual potential. Relationships that once had meaning, are abandoned. Long-term relationships of addicts are often stormy and unsuccessful. Their norm is short relationships, both personal and professional.
Because of their tendency to avoid intimacy, the addicts will prefer to leave their interpersonal relationships unfinished and neglect their relationships until they are poisoned and killed.
Moreover, addicts will look for people to take care of their needs or depend on them and vulnerable. In the end, their quality of emotional life will be affected. The shame surrounding their lives prevents them from being emotionally present in their relationships, especially at critical times.
This neglect of significant and expensive connections attests more than any other characteristic of addiction.
The chemical aspects of sexual addiction
People wonder how sex addiction can be addictive if it does not involve substances the person takes? It turns out that although the sex addict apparently does not take any substance, he produces this substance from his brain through his sexual behaviors.
The association between high endorphins and orgasm has been shown in several studies. This finding explains the decreased sensitivity to pain during sexual intercourse. Injecting endorphins into the central nervous system explains the euphoria immediately felt after orgasm and loss of romantic interest after sex.
Even in the early stages of infatuation, a high level of material was identified by researcher Michael Liebowitz and called PEA or Phenylethylamine. Its level decreases as the acute phase of infatuation passes, as the relationship moves to the more relaxed stage of long-term attachment and love.
It was also found that fear is associated with PEA levels and hence the effect that increases the chance of falling in love with states of excitement, risk, and fear. The material level is particularly high in the presence of fear and has a direct effect on the level of desire. The composition and effect of PEA is reminiscent of ecstasy, though not as powerful.
These findings suggest that sex addiction is indeed related to substances. The withdrawal from this addiction is particularly difficult because of the simple reason that the reservoir of the addictive substance is in the
The eleven behavioral types of sex addicts
The common characteristic of all types is helplessness – inability to stop. Addicts know they should stop. Sometimes they make dramatic efforts to stop. However, time after time, they are present who can not do so.
However, there is a difference between the styles of sex-addicted people and Carnes has produced eleven types of his research or language patterns of powerlessness:
Behavioral examples: Obsessive thinking about sexual adventures; An unlikely time when a man spends lost in his fantasies about the future and the past; Neglect of commitments due to fantasy life; The embodiment of a certain role within the fantasy – in life; Creating a sexual or seductive atmosphere that the person prefers to maintain as a fantasy and not to behave in accordance with it; Spending a lot of time preparing for a sexual episode.
These people have often been victims of disguised or indirect sexual exploitation (not including contact, but including a sexual atmosphere in the house where they were raised).
People with this problem seem innocuous, locked into a world of their own. However, they experience the same losses experienced by all addicts: intimacy, time, energy and productivity. They also suffer from shame, pain, and physical hazards. The specific form of their addiction will be strongly related to the type of injury they experienced in childhood.
Adopting a seductive role sex
Behavioral examples: management of several relationships simultaneously or in close proximity; Use temptation to gain control over others; The belief that sex will give a person power over another person; Flirting and seductive behavior; Search for partners in singles bars, clubs, country clubs, etc .; Maintaining an open agenda and refraining from committing to things to leave time for sex; Excessive use of sex or sexual jokes in conversations; It is necessary to be sexual in order to feel good about oneself.
This behavior may be masked by the cultural perceptions of the conquering man and the seductive woman. But addicts know that what they do is different from that, that it has its own power and they no longer control their lives.
Behavioral examples: sex with anonymous partners; Search for partners on the beach, in parks, parking lots, public toilets, etc. One night stands;; Group sex.
In an anonymous species, no one creates the illusion that there is an emotional connection between the participants and this is the main characteristic of this species. In this pattern, there is a danger of illness and falling victim to violence, but these are also part of the excitement that drives addicts to continue their behavior.
Paying for sex
Behavioral examples: pay for sex calls; The use of escort girls or sex services on the phone; Paying someone for sexual activity; Using newspaper ads to find sex partners; Extensive use of health and massage facilities, etc.
In this situation, sex is immediate, within a very defined boundary, and there is no emotional risk: complete and go your way. The immediacy and anonymity characterize these species.
Behavioral examples: the production of films and photographs of sexual content; Modeling for sexual films and photographs; Self-disclosure on stage or for payment; Soliciting others to work in the sex industry; Receiving payment for sexual activity; Receiving drugs for sexual activity; Giving drugs to another person to force sexual activity on him.
Many women who are addicted to sex in India, when they were already recovering from addiction, who received money for sex or sought drugs for it.
Sex that includes voyeurism (Voyeuristic sex)
Behavioral examples: the use of printed pornography or the Internet; Accumulating collections of pornography at home or at work; Extensive use of sex stores and strip shows; A glimpse into the homes of other people using binoculars or a telescope; A glimpse into the windows of apartments and houses; Sexual views of people in public places, causing embarrassment and discomfort to those people; Making non-sexual products – for adults.
In this pattern, passion becomes ill. The behaviors associated with this pattern violate the personal boundaries of others.
Sex that includes self-disclosure (exhibitionist sex)
Behavioral examples: Self-disclosure in public places, such as parks, on the street, in school yards; Self-disclosure from home or car; Blatant sexuality in dress, a habit of dressing or undressing in public; Selecting excessively revealing clothes; Join a club of nudists to find sex partners.
The archetype – the man in the raincoat who reveals himself is relatively rare. But this type of sex addiction is very common. The forms in which such people expose themselves are, for example, the removal of the lining of the bathing suit so that it can be “inadvertently” seen through it; Creating holes in shorts and pretending to be unaware of them; Opening the buttons of her blouse as if by accident or negligence; Opening the curtain at home for others to see and more. These behaviors are characterized by an atmosphere that is not done intentionally, everything is random and not planned by the performer.
Those who do these behaviors are addicted to the thrill of doing something forbidden or dangerous.
Behavioral examples: suggestive or obscene sexual acts; Touching or touching others without permission; The use of sexually explicit stories, humor, or language; The use of a position of power (professional, religious or hierarchical status) in order to exploit or be sexual with another person; Coercion of sexual activity on another person, including a daughter or spouse.
Sometimes this behavior is carried out without the knowledge of the victim. The characteristic of this type of sex is desecration. Such a species is made whether the other party is interested or not. Sometimes it can be very refined until the victim does not understand what is being done and thus is prevented from responding or responding. This type includes “accidental” touches in public places in nearby people; Rubbing against people in crowded places; Touching as part of a professional treatment or work that appears to be included in the work of the professional; The use of sexual language and sexual jokes in an inappropriate manner, which causes others to feel disfigured and dirty.
The most violent form of invasive sex is rape of all kinds.
The most common form of sex
Behavioral examples: acceptance of physical damage or pain during sexual activity to increase enjoyment; Causing physical pain or pain to the partner in order to increase sexual pleasure; Voluntary renunciation of domination or roleplaying of a victim within sexual activity; Use sex toys to increase sexual pleasure.
Sex with objects (Object sex)
Behavioral examples: masturbation through an object; Wearing clothing of the opposite sex to increase sexual pleasure; The use of fetish as part of sexual rituals; Sexual activity with animals.
Sex with children
Behavioral examples: sharing children with inappropriate sexual information; The child’s exposure to sexual activity among adults; Forced sex of a child within or outside the family; Sex with minor consent; Watching children’s pornography.
Using a behavior that is consistent with one of the above types is not necessarily evidence that the person is addicted to sex, but if a pattern of lack of control is present, it is an addiction.
Most addicts mix three or four behavior patterns and do not settle for one.
The pattern of lack of control, obsessiveness, helplessness and the use of sex as a means of relieving pain indicates the presence of addiction.
Characteristics common to the eleven patterns of addiction to sex that make them prone to addiction are according to Carnes:
Taking advantage of others – many of the behaviors exploit the vulnerability of others or of other victims through invasion of their boundaries and the use of force. The addict reiterates what they did to him when he was sexually abused in childhood and becomes an attacker himself.
Lack of mutuality – behavior includes inequality and isolation. Usually, it will not create intimacy or emotional rapprochement.
Objectification – Many of the behaviors refer to others as inhuman, turning them into objects, objects. Sexual objects are easier to exploit, can be endangered, and do not interfere with the addressee’s trance with expectations of treatment.
Dissatisfaction – the behaviors leave the addict in despair, still craving for more. The dissatisfaction is partly due to the lack of meaning in impersonal sexual intercourse and partly because sexual pleasure only lulls existing pain, without really healing it.
Increasing shame – behaviors create shame and secrecy, the key components of addiction. When ego is diluted, the addict finds it difficult to set limits beyond those necessary to prevent the discovery of his actions.
At the basis of behavior is fear – dangerous behaviors create fear. Excitement and arousal are directly related to the degree of fear that exists within the situation.
Some of the addicts are lost in a fantasy life. Others are trapped in the pursuit of certain levels of arousal and danger, shame and danger. Others use sex to sleep and forget personal pain and anxiety.
Prices of sex addiction
The prices paid by the addict are many, and Carnes has created a list of the ten most painful:
Loss of significant relationships
Loss of children (abortion, death, and loss of child due to removal from home by social services)
Loss of significant members
Lack of availability for his or her children (including real neglect)
Guilt for injuries caused to others (victims and sex partners)
Loss of productivity and creativity
Loss of sense of integrity (including violation of personal values)
Damage to self-esteem
Most prices are related to the impact of significant relationships.
Emotional prices also exist. In addition to being a price, they also become the reason for the continued addictive behavior. Many addicts think they deserve nothing good because of the shame they experience because of their actions. The source of these feelings can be found in childhood, within the dysfunctional family or the abuser in which they were raised. Addiction “justifies” those feelings and reconstructs them.
For addicts, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to accept the idea of intimacy with another person because deep down they believe that eventually they will be rejected. The resulting loneliness, and the suffering that results in further addictive behaviors.
Many of the addicts said they were unable to maintain non-sexual relationships, but the ability to develop friendship and friendship was the basis for intimacy.
Recovery from sexual addiction
According to Carnes, addicts have to go through several stages of years of determined work, but ultimately there is a possibility of recovering from addiction. Despite the hard way, the end result is satisfying and promising.
Based on reports from individuals who have recovered from Carnes addiction, the experience of recovery from addiction is summarized by several key points:
Empathy and compassion – the love and acceptance of others, the ability to understand human suffering are considered the most meaningful gifts of healing. The agonizing changes that have occurred have forced those who have become addicted to addiction to develop these abilities.
Familiarity with spiritual life – For many spiritual recruits, the spirit was alien. This is not a spiritual path, but rather a man’s task to find his way of seeing things from a spiritual point of view that suits him personally.
The ability to take care of themselves – through coping with the shadows of self-hatred and shame, the addicts increased their self-esteem and developed the ability to take care of themselves as part of this change. This ability was also new to many of them.
Learning about the family of origin – the healing process requires many to learn about the family in which they grew up and problems in their functioning. Issues in relationships with the family that was hidden became clear through treatment, reading and the process of recovery.
Friendships – Contact with others has become the main thing for the weaned. Interpersonal communication skills evolved and grew as the participants learned to value healthy relationships.
Life-realistic vision – The changes in life that occurred were the result of new abilities to solve problems, to withstand the frustrations and creativity acquired in the recovery process.
A reduction in the power of perfectionism – tolerance, generosity, and acceptance of himself and others – has begun to transcend the habit of “doing it right” acquired in childhood in a family based on messages of shame.
Reducing the mystery about sexuality – the old myths, which kept the shame of addicts sex