The shame about sex addiction
The consequences of sex addiction can be traumatic for both the perpetrator and those associated with them. However, whatever the underlying cause of the addiction, recovery is achievable.
Experts still argue about the true definition of sex addiction. Some say that it’s an addiction that's similar to alcohol and substance abuse. Others believe that it might be a specific form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Some believe that it simply doesn’t exist and is brought about by conditioning with various influences, most notably, the internet. Internet sex researcher, Al Cooper, says internet sex can be described as the ‘crack cocaine’ of sexual addiction and without it, sexual addiction simply wouldn’t exist.
Regardless of the reasons why and the true definition of sex addiction, there is no doubt that this is something many people are afflicted by. Sex addiction is portrayed in the movie, 'Shame', produced by British video artist, Steve McQueen.
'Shame' tells the story of Brandon, a handsome young German man living in America. Brandon is a workaholic who can think of nothing else but having sex with beautiful women. When he’s not seducing women, he is searching for them on the internet or watching pornography. You witness how his habitual existence is thrown into chaos as his sister makes an unannounced visit, thus unwittingly messing up his routine and leaving him no option but to wander the streets after dark in order to get his sexual fix. McQueen’s research into sex addiction prior to the movie was in-depth. Having interviewed many sex addicts, he noted that one of the most frequent terms that were used during the interviews was "shame", hence the film's title.
Sex addiction triggers
It’s thought that addiction to sex is triggered by a number of different factors. However, the addict's core beliefs are at the root of it all, in a very similar way to most other addictions. For example a sex addict who is experiencing emotional pain, such as anger, shame or conflict, will look at sex as a means to resolve those feelings, albeit in a temporary fashion, effectively escapism.
One very interesting theory comes from Dr Patrick Carnes, an expert in the field of sexual addiction, who believes that people's core beliefs are instilled in them from a very young age and are predominantly influenced by family behavioural patters and the way in which they are treated. A child who comes from a background of stability and love is less likely to develop negative core beliefs than one who has a history of neglect or abuse.
Remember, treatment for sex addiction is available. If you are concerned about yourself or if someone you love is suffering with this condition, the most important step is to get professional help.