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#67515 - 08/28/03 11:37 AM Strung Out on Sex ( article about sex addiction )
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
This is possibly the best writing on sex addiction that I have seen, it appeared in a newspaper in1998 and has been on the internet in many places ever since.
It's worth a read.


Strung Out on Sex

If you're wounded, unloved or unsure, sex can be as addictive as cocaine. But when it's a sexual addiction that's destroying someone's life, we're too busy sniggering to believe it. By Jeanette Batz, The Riverfront Times, St. Louis, MO - June 23, 1998

Mention sex addiction, and the jokes start: This is a problem?" " do you know whether you're addicted?" "Where can I meet these people?"
Listen patiently, let 'em run out of steam. Then tell a few stories from the case files. Did you hear the one about the woman whose husband went to the office on a Sunday to do some catching up? She and their 8-year-old daughter found him in the rest room, dead as a result of autoerotic asphyxiation. Then there was the 38-year-old dentist who, furious about his wife's sexual unavailability, secretly drugged her so that he could have sex with her. The woman who wound up in the emergency room after using a vibrator so intensely that she burned herself. The man who had sex with a stranger in a gas-station rest room while his wife and kids waited in the car.

It's not funny. It's not even erotic. Sexual addiction is an obsessive preoccupation and compulsive acting-out that spirals out of control. It happens not in quest of pleasure but because, somewhere along the line, the psyche confused sex with love and the body interpreted a rush of adrenaline as a triumph over fear, loneliness and inadequacy.

Sex addicts aren't over-sexed, and they're not people making excuses for deliciously bad behavior. They're people without any real intimacy in their lives. The sex is a powerfully addictive substitute because, for a few seconds, it fills the emptiness. And that fleeting comfort keeps them coming back for more.

The cases mentioned above come from the research of Dr. Patrick Carnes, the psychologist whose book Out of the Shadows (now published by Hazelden Educational Materials) gave the general public the first thorough understanding of sex addiction in 1983. Carnes had written the book a decade earlier, but the world wasn't ready; it was only in 1978 that clinicians began recognizing this addiction as a disease, and the rest of us still think of it as decadence. "This country's about 13, sexually," he sighs.

Foul lust of lechery, behold thy due. Geoffrey Chaucer

"I can take you to two or three shopping centers where anonymous sex happens every day," promises Dr. Mark Schwartz, clinical co-director of the Masters & Johnson Clinic. "You're talking about a surgeon getting a blow job in a public rest room while his wife's shopping. That's how compulsive these activities get." Famous for rehabilitative therapy, the clinic gets at least three or four calls a week from sex addicts seeking help. "Most are men, which can be misleading. With women it's a lot more in the closet," explains Schwartz, "but there's lot of it."

"The cycle begins when a sexual experience temporarily but very effectively relieves painful anxiety, distracts your mind from its problems, releases your body's lonely tensions. Suddenly you feel supremely powerful, in control of anything that might hurt you, desired and satisfied and loved. The next time you start to feel anxious, lonely, hurt or inadequate, you repeat the process. And it escalates."
Usually there's a predisposition to addiction; a history of emotional pain and sexual confusion; a life land-mined with violations of trust; an utter inability to create intimacy. "But most of all," Schwartz finishes bluntly, "people discover that they can get high from it." The sex is doubly intoxicating because of the hit of adrenaline that comes with the illicit excitement, the Russian roulette you're playing with your job, your relationship or your life. Plus, if you're having sex with a new partner, it's "fantasy sex"--anything you want it to be. Except committed, meaningful and intimate.

Schwartz defines intimacy as "having a deep relation with another person, and then you sexually punctuate it." Addictive sex isn't just a comma; it's the entire vocabulary and syntax. It preoccupies, driving happily married accountants to park benches for nervous, furtive, anonymous sex; sending lawyers into tawdry back rooms, their floors sticky with semen, because a few locker-room jokes by unsuspecting buddies triggered desperate need.

What's the appeal of sex without mutual tenderness, fidelity and all the values we're told to cherish? "Partly the circumstances, and the newness," Schwartz suggests, "and partly the fact that you are conquering somebody and somebody wants you. Or at least you have the illusion that somebody wants you. The sex addict will say, 'I'm only as good as my last hit,' meaning-- 'For a moment I felt like I was OK, because that person wanted me, but as soon as what I did sank in, I hated myself so bad the only way I could feel better was to go back out and do it again.'"

That, in a nutshell, is the addictive cycle. "It's like crack--you go way up and way down very fast," he continues. "Somebody wants you, they fuck you and, about three seconds after they ejaculate, you go low." Conventional lovemaking becomes undesirable, insufficiently stimulating. "For some people, the addiction's so severe that they have sex with people with active sarcoma lesions (a sign of AIDS)," adds Schwartz. "It gives you some idea of the deep craziness. There is nothing in our rational minds that would allow us to understand that."

William, a gentle, thoughtful professional who holds a graduate degree, never understood it, either. "Anonymous sexual encounters in public areas with other men," he blurts. "You want to stop, but then you rationalize, Just one more time. And every time, it's insanity: You do the same old thing and think, 'This time, the result will be different.'" When sex took over, he says, his emotional life died. "You don't really feel depression, or sadness, or joy. All those feelings become sexualized, until all you feel is a kind of numb anxiety."

William's addiction started young, worsened in college, continued through his 20's and lasted until he was arrested for anonymous sex in a park and his employer found out. He's been in recovery for 13 years. If he could go back in time, he'd tell his young self, "You don't have to live this life anymore; there are other people just like you; there is help; there is a chance of a rich, fall life." And the response? "I probably wouldn't have believed it."

"Sex addiction is kind of a steamroller to hell. The double life, the inconsistencies, it all takes great energy," he sighs, remembering how sure he was that he could somehow evade any consequences. "Nobody can juggle it in the long run; they burn out," he adds. "People can do it for years, though."
The hallmark of addiction is that sex becomes the organizing principle of daily life, with every spare moment devoted to fantasizing, planning the next experience, ritualizing it, enacting it, agonizing over the guilt and shame it leaves behind. From there, the addiction can manifest itself in an infinite variety of forms, settings, moods and degrees.

In Carnes study of 1,000 sex addicts, 89 percent reported regularly bingeing to the point of emotional exhaustion. A counselor locked himself in the bathroom every two hours to masturbate. A wife found three volumes carefully annotating her husband's sexual encounters with 1,500 women. But Jason, a soft-spoken, serious young man you'd expect to work in a bookstore, simply engaged in a series of committed relationships ignited by consuming infatuation. "Most lasted a year," he says. "We'd become joined at the hip; that would last two or three months. Then I'd spend the next seven or eight months trying to get out of the relationship."

What marks an addiction isn't the activity itself; it's how you feel about it and how it dominates and damages your life. Addicts might obsessively fantasize or play roles; seduce coworkers; have anonymous and/or public sex; masturbate compulsively; rub themselves against unsuspecting strangers (frotteurism); exhibit themselves; pay or barter for sex; watch others undressing or having sex; exchange pain with sexual partners; invade boundaries in ways ranging from unwelcome flirting to rape; molest animals or children; sexualize bodily wastes, clothing or objects; have phone sex or, now, computer sex.

"People are using the Internet as a way of feeding their sex addictions," notes Schwartz, "because it's anonymous and impersonal. Sometimes they ejaculate while playing on the computer, five or six times in an evening. Other times they arrange to meet someone, or they go somewhere to have anonymous sex afterward, which is very dangerous."

I don't think anyone is free. One creates one's own prison. Graham Sutherland

Our puritanical, adolescent, sex-soaked culture holds more addicts than you'd ever guess: One national study found that the number attending recovery groups virtually doubled between 1988 and 1992, and "we've crossed another threshold this year," remarks Carnes. "I've been astounded by the number of sudden experts in the field since Clinton."

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA), one of three nationwide sex-addiction groups with chapters in St. Louis, draws between six and 30 people to each of 10 weekly meetings. Such counts are one of the best ways to estimate the extent of the problem, but they're limited to people who already acknowledge what's wrong and usually to people with enough education, money or health insurance to be receiving individual as well as group therapy. It's a skewed picture, and it fragments quickly: mostly male but an increasing number of females; all races, classes, religions and sexual orientations. Often people have been trapped in other addictions first alcohol and drugs, or eating disorders. "Sexual addiction tends to come later, in the 30's," notes Schwartz. Is it foreshadowed when people are teenagers? "Yeah, they're depressed as hell," he rejoins. "Sad all the time, disconnected, treated cruelly by their peers, and with parents who are not very compassionate."

He's generalizing, but the de>
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

#67516 - 08/28/03 12:32 PM Re: Strung Out on Sex ( article about sex addiction )
Sans Logos Offline

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5796
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...

There is a a ton of wisdom in this article. As far as the addiction part goes, for me, exchange the word "sex" for the word "food", "work", "drugs" "alcohol" and it fits all too snug.

Thanks for posting this article. I like having things spelled out and explained so clearly. Good de>
Ron Schulz, MSPC, NCC

#67517 - 08/29/03 06:02 PM Re: Strung Out on Sex ( article about sex addiction )
gryffindor Offline

Registered: 02/08/03
Posts: 131
Loc: St. Charles, Illinois
There are some uncomfortable truths in this article, especially the part about wanting to have sex in order to get to know a person better. So much anxiety is temporarily relieved. But how sad that the possibility of getting to know someone provokes so much anxiety that I want to have sex with them in order to get the "getting to know you" part over with as fast as possible. I'm learning to savor the slowly developing over a long period of time friendship. It hasn't always been easy. Even now it isn't, although it has been about three years.


"Where there's a will, there's a way." American Folk Saying

"Had I not fallen, I could not have arisen; had I not sat in darkness, I would not have recognized the light." Midrash Tehillim Ch. 22

#67518 - 09/02/03 02:53 PM Re: Strung Out on Sex ( article about sex addiction )
PAS Offline

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Good article. It certainly puts my bf's past into perspective. Me and my insecure ways have painted his past into some wonderful "experience" of having all kinds of casual easy sex but according to his reports it was nothing like that... it caused him more pain and anguish and guilt so much so that he can't even write about it in his journal. I suppose his background at the time he was acting out he was also drinking and/or smoking large quantities of pot - an addiction is an addiction is an addiction I guess.

I wish he'd get to the point where he could recognize that his past sexual life was addiction and compusion driven instead of something he feels totally responsible for... he's still hanging on to either some guilt or shame in this regard. He just cant let it go and he certainly can't look at his sexual past in regard to something that's been affected by SA - he totally blames himself and calls it a result of being "immature".

I guess part of me wants him to acknowledge that he was affected by SA in this aspect of his life - I just want to know that he's not some kind of jerk woman-user - like the many jerks who tried (and some who succeeded) in using me (while all the while professing love and affection) to satisfy their sexual needs and left me in the dirt (or those whom I didnt satisfy and also left me in the dirt)... I guess I have my own anger about the way I've been treated - crap I've not gotten over yet.. that comes out when I think about my BF's past.

Its all about protecting myself I guess. I've been hurt, burned and abused too...

#67519 - 09/02/03 05:46 PM Re: Strung Out on Sex ( article about sex addiction )
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Dr. Carnes describes how sexually addicted individuals have become addicted to the neuro-chemical changes that take place in the body during sexual behavior, much as a drug addict becomes hooked on the effects of smoking "crack" cocaine or "shooting" heroin. This is not to say that expression of ourselves as sexual beings, an intensely pleasurable, life-enhancing experience for the majority of the population, is an inherently addictive reality. As Carnes states, "Contrary to enjoying sex as a self-affirming source of physical pleasure, the sex addict has learned to rely on sex for comfort from pain, for nurturing or relief from stress," comparable to the alcoholic's purposeful use of alcohol.
I've been stealing from Sex Addicts Anon' again ! \:D


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

#67520 - 11/13/06 02:16 PM Re: Strung Out on Sex ( article about sex addiction )
lostcowboy Offline

Registered: 11/10/04
Posts: 798
Loc: Rhode Island
Bumping this one up also.
Take care,

"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend." - Albert Camus
Pretty much my life as I have posted so far. Triggers!


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