Psychologist and researcher Dr. Patrick Carnes identified and started treating sex addiction in the late 1970s. He estimates that 3 percent of American women and 8 percent of our macho men have the addiction. Carnes said there are more than 15 million Americans "suffering" with the addiction. I would imagine the suffering comes from the guilt of the consequences, not the pleasure from the sex.
Carnes said sex addiction has its roots in adolescence. Growing up in a dysfunctional family environment that is chaotic and hostile, the child is emotionally deprived of love and resorts to sex-related activities as an escape, especially self-gratification. He starts reading sexually explicit books and magazines, gets high on his own behavior and the euphoria becomes addictive. It's a habitual sedative, like some drugs and marijuana. As the child reaches adulthood, sex is a substitute and escape from boredom, feeling anxious and not being able to sleep at night. No wonder I haven’t been able to sleep for more than 70 years.
Another contributing factor for adult sex addiction is child molestation. According to Carnes, about 60 percent of adult sex addicts were sexually abused by someone during their childhood. Most of the abused are girls used by family members or close friends to satisfy their own sexual needs and fantasies. The pleasure of the sex is shrouded in high risk situations, secrecy, fear, shame and deception, establishing a pattern that will stay with the child for the rest of his or her life.
Carnes makes some good points. Most addicts lead a double life. They claim that having multiple partners is stimulating and more gratifying. Married men use the excuse that they have different kinds of sex with different partners because they have wives who are inhibited and not responsive. They argue they have a family, children, position in life and have a relationship outside of the marriage to save the marriage itself.
Women claim they are not addicts; they just thrive on the anticipation of romancing a new partner. They enjoy the “game” of catching another addict or partner and not getting caught by their husbands.
The national news media is bringing more awareness to sex addiction. It seems every celebrity or politician caught cheating has a sex addiction and has to enroll his or herself in a sanitarium for rehabilitation, taking the cure for their guilt.
Steve Phillips, the one-time sportscaster who broke his moral clause with ESPN, was fired, went to rehab and is now on the media circuit doing his true confessions routine. He joins an elite group of celebrities using the term “sex addiction” as a justification for their infidelities.
Golf professional Tiger Woods is still in rehab for having who knows how many women. Actor David Duchovny lost his marriage and actor Billy Bob Thornton just seemed to be having a good time, but they all blamed it on sex addiction.
Actor Michael Douglas received therapy in the late 1990s for his addiction. He married actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and agreed to pay her $5 million if he broke his vow of fidelity. That should be enough to cure any addiction.
Actor Charlie Sheen really went all out. From cheating on his wife, soliciting prostitutes to allegedly watching gay porn, he just might have a real problem.
Comedian Bill Murray’s wife divorced him, claiming he was an adulterer and a sex addict.
Let’s not forget politicians. Former President John F. Kennedy was notorious. Gary Hart lost the 1984 presidential bid because of “another woman.” Eliot Spitzer, governor of New York, was married and had a list of prostitutes and former president Bill Clinton was caught smoking cigars with Monica Lewinsky. It’s hard to believe that every person on the list was a victim of child abuse or child neglect.
Addiction is a habit and having sex is a normal function of humanity. If single adults want to have sex with three different people a day, that is their business. But when a married person still wants to lead a single life, breaks his trust, commitment and vows to a loving partner, destroying his faith, character and family, it is time for the reality of a divorce, not the excuse of therapy.
Addiction is a habit. I have to wonder, though, if in our fantasies, imagination and youthful dreams, whether married or single, young or old, that maybe all of us are addicted to sex one way or another. Are you?
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at email@example.com. His Web site is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.