There has been much written in the press, in movies, and even on television about sex addiction. However, these depictions of sex addiction rarely include the pain, the sorrow, and the devastation that this addiction can bring to both the addict and the family.
Sex addiction can occur in both men and women, although it is more commonly associated with men. Sex addiction is also commonly found with other mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and depression. In some patients the sex addiction itself causes extreme feelings of guilt, shame and self-blame that may then lead into depression.
Sex becomes additive when the individual realises that the behaviour is dangerous or may cause them harm, yet is unable to stop the compulsion to engage in the behaviour. For many people the harm may be the loss of a relationship or a family or it may be the loss of a job. For others the dangerous behaviour may involve high risk sexual activities that could lead to life threatening health concerns.
The Symptoms and Signs of Sex Addiction
As with any addiction the sex addict is not open about his or her behaviour. They will make every effort to keep it from their friends, family, and loved ones and, if caught, will often deny the behaviour or attempt to blame it on circumstances beyond their control.
People often increase in their high risk activities with a sexual addiction. Commonly the first signs may be looking at porn online or through magazines or videos. This often overtakes the person’s waking hours and they may miss work, view pornography at work, or make excuses to be online at home while actually on porn sites.
In addition a sex addict may escalate physical sexual interactions with others. There is rarely a change in the sexual relationship between spouses, but with people outside the marriage or partnership there may be experimentation, requests for sex in public or in specific locations, or even the desire to have sex with prostitutes or strangers.
This sexual activity is of itself not the addiction; it is the immediate pleasure sensation in the brain that creates the addiction. In an effort to try to keep achieving that pleasure the sex addict must continue to increase the excitement, anticipation, and risk.
Getting to the Issues
Sex addiction cannot be cured with a pill or by simply not engaging in the acts anymore. Like any addiction the compulsion will become unbearable without treatment that addresses the root cause of the problem.
Psychotherapy and counselling will allow you to look deeply at what is triggering this behaviour. For some clients it may be a history of being sexually abused as a child or in an abusive relationship as an adult. When these issues are not treated and resolved it will be impossible to stop the current behaviours.
Philippe Jacquet uses many different therapeutic approaches to treating and working with patients with sex addiction. Discovering underlying issues and learning new and more effective coping strategies is essential, but so is rebuilding relationships and trust that may have been damaged through the course of the addiction.