1. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566

    The psychology of sexual addiction

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Hubardo, Apr 19, 2014.

    Some people have a compulsive problem with sexual stimulation (ie, constant one night stands, excessive pornography/masturbation, dangerous behaviors around prostitution). What kinds of childhoods did these people have? Was authoritarian religiosity common among them? What kinds of attachment styles (certainly not secure ones)? Why sexual addiction instead of, say, heroin? (Lots of things can activate the old dopamine pathway.)

    What kinds of personalities might these people have?

    What's the difference between healthy and unhealthy sexuality, and how is this defined across different cultural and political perspectives?
     
  2. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    Well, histrionic personality traits are most strongly associated with sex addiction. A sex addict doesn't have to have all that, but a degree of superficiality, attention seeking, exhibitionism and seductive behaviour, impulse control issues, self esteem issues, and manipulativeness is usually present in people with sex addiction. Typically, sex addicts don't engage in high quality sexual relationships and women are frequently anorgasmic (so they overcompensate).

    Interestingly, the books claim that histrionic personality affects four times more women then men. This could be due to the society's prejudice towards female sexuality, and likelihood of labelling her 'hysterical' or 'histrionic', while a man gets a more pleasant attribute or at least doesn't get diagnosed. I think a lot of men who engage in sex addiction or even compulsive cheating, are also histrionic, but the diagnostic criteria favours female expression of histrionicity, so while female is 'histrionic' a male is 'flirtatious' or a 'Casanova'.

    As for what causes histrionic behaviour, there is no evidence clearly pointing either way. But perhaps, conditional love in childhood, feeling neglected or abandoned, can contribute. Early sexualisation? Sexual insecurity in a male perhaps? There is no clear evidence of causation but we can speculate.

    There's a condition where women experience repeated arousal during the day, and unless they have sex or masturbate, it becomes extremely painful. This is extremely rare and isn't associated with sex addiction, actually, people are quite disabled by it and find it very depressing. I'd go with the above.

    Healthy vs unhealthy sexuality is tricky to define. I would say, if a person engages in safe sex with consensual partners, never regrets who they wake up with, have sex without having to be drunk or stoned or worse, they regularly experience quality orgasms, sex doesn't interfere with their quality of life, they are having healthy sexuality.

    As for why sex and not heroin, all humans have their poison of choice. A heroin addict uses an opiate to achieve what a marathon runner gets from endogenous endorphins. Perhaps the heroin addict has a problem with brain chemistry and is unable to release adequate endorphins, or maybe years of deep psychological pain has exhausted endorphin production, or maybe resulted in huge upregulation (increase in the number) of opiate receptors? Certainly, that's thought to be the basis for opiate addiction.

    Sex, additionally to the analgesia and euphoria of endorphins, releases oxytocin and prolactin that help with feeling of closeness and connection. This might tie in with the theory that histrionics (and sex addicts) crave the feeling of closeness and have little capacity to psychologically feel it. So the chemicals overwhelming them is one sure way to experience what they most want. Not necessarily sex and orgasms, but the closeness afterward. However, as all drugs, the feeling is short lasting and another 'dose' is required soon after.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
    Hubardo and obsidian_cicatrix like this.
  3. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    The problem with your question is that the behaviours you describe are not all part of a single syndrome. Constant one night stands could simply be an indication of loneliness, or a very high libido, or if the person is male, may have accepted the concept of "Game" which encourages "scoring" as much as possible. What is excessive pornography. If someone enjoys pornography more than Reality TV or soap operas, why is that a problem? Similarly, masturbation may be indicative of nothing more than a high libido and lack of opportunity for intercourse. What is dangerous behaviours around prostitution? Not using a condom? Many men refuse to use a condom despite the risk because it makes it very difficult for them to orgasm.

    Basically, as jazzabel said, none of it matters unless there is self destructive behaviour. And even then, the proper question might be "Why is that person displaying self-destructive behaviour?". The answer may have nothing to do with sex.
     
  4. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    OK. Well. This book is good:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1568386214/?tag=postedlinks04-20

    Also, if you guys are ever curious you can go to a sex addicts anonymous meeting and listen to peoples' struggles there.

    Some people do identify as sex (or love) addicts, and I think there are similarities between those who identify as such.
     
  5. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    Hubardo likes this.
  6. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    @Bryan Romer :
    This is the major failing of most studies - not studying the actual people with the problem, but people who either don't have a problem or have a different problem, and then applying the result on the group that wasn't actually studied. Viewing' is very specific type of experience, and compulsive viewing is different as compulsive engaging in risk taking behaviours or actual sex addiction (when you do it, not mainly think about it and watch it). So the validity of the results may or may not be applicable. I would certainly not accept any conclusions of this study to relate to all sex addicts.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2014
  7. Hubardo
    Offline

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,075
    Likes Received:
    566
    [​IMG]
    That's what I found from google-image searching "Patrick Carnes sex addiction." I remember from his book there being more in-depth graphics and charts explaining how the stuff works. The key problem to me is the despair. I think it has to do with shame, and a belief system based on the assumption that one is a bad person. I've sat in on sex/love addict meetings and shame is an extremely common feeling expressed. Another common theme is around child abuse, whether sexual, physical, etc. In terms of attachment style, I don't think I've met anybody in those rooms who could be considered "securely attached." Point is, there are patterns and themes among people with these sexual/romance acting out problems, regardless of what brain science tells us. The problem could be as simple as people being raised with weird beliefs about sexuality and love, and so they feel despair around those issues in their lives, and they basically mix up certain behaviors into an OCD complex.

    Interesting reading: "An Overview of Sex Addiction"
    http://psychcentral.com/lib/an-overview-of-sex-addiction/000521

    "The percentage of people who go to therapy or a 12-step program is quite small. The majority of sexual compulsives live in isolation, filled with feelings of shame. Almost 100 percent of the people who come to me for an initial consultation — whether it be for compulsive use of prostitutes, phone sex, a fetish, cross dressing, or masochistic encounters with dominatrixes — relay that beneath the shame they feel in telling me their story, they also experience a sense of freedom that comes from finally being able to share with another human being the hidden, shameful, sexually compulsive acts that imprison them."

    Also - Shame: sex addicts reveal all / The acclaimed new film Shame portrays the harrowing world of sex addicts. We asked five people recovering from the condition if it was realistic
    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/10/sex-addicts-talk

    "It's Brandon's absolute cut-offness – his inability to have a relationship – that's so grim, and so real. You feel his sense of despair. I've thrown out all my porn magazines, books and DVDs many times over the years, and it doesn't change anything – the shame diminishes, and then you build it all up again."

    One could simply say their problem isn't about sexuality, but about their feelings *around* their sexuality. But it's still a problem for the self-ID'd sex addict, and a complicated issue I'm interested in understanding further. Particularly, ahem, because I'm writing about a porn addict right now (see Erotica section if interested, since it's the only section that allows for depictions of porn such as what I've written).
     
    jazzabel likes this.

Share This Page