Sex addiction is a condition in which a person’s impulses, behaviors or sexual thoughts become compulsive, get out of control and impair his daily functioning. This does not refer to a strong sexual instinct but an actual disorder.
sexual addiction can manifest in: incessant thoughts, need for frequent sex, increased masturbation, compulsive porn viewing, incessant search for sexual partners, consumption of prostitution, visiting strip clubs and so on. About 80% of sex addicts are men.
Although the phenomenon has no diagnostic definition in psychiatry, there are a number of recurring characteristics of addiction in various studies on the subject:
- Compulsion: Inability to freely decide when to stop a particular sexual behavior. Attempts to stop a sexual behavior often fail again and again.
- The person continues the sexual behavior despite the heavy price he pays for this behavior (as with any addiction). In many cases harm is experienced in occupational, academic, family and social fields.
- Obsessive thoughts about sexual activity: Over time, obsessive thoughts tend to become more extreme and intense.
Sex addiction, like other addictions, is a behavior that impairs the addict’s ability to function properly and develop healthy relationships. The addict loses touch with concepts of good or bad. they lose control. They have no more freedom or power of free choice.
Similar to substance abuse (alcohol / drugs), even when the addicted person is no longer able to consume the substance (e.g. alcohol), he is still unable to resist the intense need for it. And as with other addicts, so with sex addiction – any kind of sex (with him/her self or with partners other than his or her spouse) is destructive and addictive.
The way to becoming a sex addict is similar to the the way to any other addiction. Many people feel worthlessness during their lives, loneliness, fear and the feeling that they are not worthy. Their interiority does not correspond to what takes place outside.
As a coping mechanism – these people choose to disengage from family, friends and the environment. The escape is to the fantasy; To masturbation, to casual sex, to porn. Lust becomes the focus of attraction and the main occupation is in achieving it. This behavior is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, self-hatred, remorse, emptiness and pain. Shame and guilt are sometimes linked to cultural aspects (religious beliefs) of the addict or to conscientious aspects. The addict struggles, many times between his behavior and the values he would like to live by. This struggle further distances him from himself and the environment.
Why is it hard to stop this sexual behavior?
The condition can be likened to a small wound. We can treat the wound and disinfect it and on the other hand, we can scratch it and gain a momentary pleasure that seems to alleviate us. Actually, we only deepen the wound even more. A person who for years has been harmed by his environment so that their self-esteem has been harmed, or has developed a sense of failure – may in the attempt to deal with the vulnerability “choose to scratch the wound”, that is, in this case, escape into a hyper-sexual space to experience self-worth, power, or control. The person does “gain” momentary pleasure through hyper-sexual behavior (masturbation, viewing sexual content, having multiple sexual partners), but the vulnerability only deepens.
What can be done?
There are currently a number of organizations involved in assisting sex addicts. Most often these are rehab centers that deal with a variety of areas (such as alcohol, drugs, etc.). Many centers have expanded their activities into the field in question after it grew in recent years, both in terms of the number of addicts in the population and in terms of awareness to the subject, both of which have grown in the last decade because of the Internet.
Rehabilitation programs are very similar to the usual rehab programs for anonymous alcoholics. They started appearing in the 1970s in the United States, when people who suffered from uncontrollable sexual similar behavioral patterns were identified as alcohol addicts.
For help, you can contact SA (Sexhoholics Anonymous) for advice, there you can join one of the support groups. For more information on the israeli SA website, click here.
Various rehab centers offer treatment and diagnosis of sex addiction.
The Lewinsky Clinic also offers free sex therapy and counseling. For more information about the service and making appointments, click here.