Sex Addiction – Compulsion
Has Your Sexual Activity Spiraled Out of Control?
Are you preoccupied by intrusive sexual thoughts?
Have your sexual behaviors robbed you of time alternatively spent with your partner?
Has anyone been hurt because of your sexual behaviors?
Have you tried to stop the chaos but are unable despite emotional, social, financial and even legal consequences?
Has your behavior been exposed by your partner or perhaps even your own child?
Living with sex addiction can be a shameful, isolating and at times a potentially dangerous experience. Someone who is sexually addicted or compulsive exhibits out of control sexual behavior despite negative consequences. Consequences of sex addiction may include but are not limited to betrayal to a loved one, divorce or separation, sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancies, financial loss and devastation; sometimes there are legal consequences—incarceration and the humiliation that accompanies it. Most virulent to this addiction is the impact it has on one’s healthy relationships—it distracts from establishing real intimacy with your loved one, creating a barrier to nurturing strong, intimate bonds. Despite one’s attempts to stop or reduce the frequency and/or intensity of engaging in risky behaviors perhaps on multiple occasions, the excitement and anticipation of the sexual release is overwhelming and they feel increasingly out of control.
Sex addiction poses a substantial betrayal to a partner; it also poses a consequential betrayal to yourself as you sellout your ability to have a healthy intimate connection. Reaching for help can be equally demeaning but nonetheless the first step to healing.
Sexual addiction and compulsivity can take on various forms including but not limited to excessive internet porn, solicitation of sex workers, compulsive masturbation, voyeurism, exhibitionism and chronic infidelity.
Dr. Winter addresses the following concerns:
Sex Addiction Has Become Increasingly Common
It has been estimated that nearly 12 million people suffer from some form of sexual addiction in the United States. This is not surprising given the accessibility, affordability and anonymity that sexual material and access to hookups on the internet and cable television affords.
Sex addiction is neither gender specific nor age specific. Both men and women experience out- of-control sexual behavior. Teens and the elderly struggle as well.
Sexual addictions are no more about sex than eating disorders are about food—that is, at the root of such disease processes, are dysfunctional attachment patterns and an unhealthy ego.
There are many models that attempt to explain these behaviors, from attachment theory, trauma repetition, to the brain and behavior dopamine, disruption in attention, impulse control and emotional regulation. Nevertheless, an addiction model serves to provide a format for treatment that reportedly spans three to five years.
Sex addiction will often but not always include pornography, an addiction based on fantasy. Further, there are many co-occurring and crossover addictions that may include drugs and/or alcohol, as well as disordered relationships with money and/or food and exercise.
Sex Addiction Treatment for Women
Given our cultural bias, we typically think of sex addiction as limited to men. We also know that while men tend to act-out, women tend to act-in. Like their male counterparts, women too spend excessive amounts of time on sex seeking and acting out with the resultant negative consequences. In fact, unless identified by the patient, sex addiction is often disguised within the rubric of the other coexisting addictions or labeled as love addiction. Cross-addictions exist often with body/food/eating related issues as well as drugs and alcohol and other behaviors; there is often a cycling between the out-of- control behavior and an abstinent or avoidant pattern.
Sexually addicted women as a group show a consistent rate of prior sexual trauma and abuse and their patterns represent a reenactment of their earlier trauma. Unlike their male counterparts, where there is a high frequency of voyeuristic and exploitive sex, use of sex workers and anonymous sex, women exhibit more seductive, exhibitionistic and fantasy patterns and use sex for power, control and attention. Yet there are similarities, the consequences notwithstanding, which might include pain exchange, compulsive masturbation, infidelity, anonymous sex and trading sex for good and/or services. There is often a co- dependence in relationships and/or a co-occurring addiction to love. In either case sex addiction is a disorder of attachment and intimacy.
As with men, there is sex addiction treatment available for female sex addicts. This might include but is not limited to inpatient treatment, intensive-outpatient, individual psychotherapy and group work. Unlike men, however, women seem to benefit more from gender-specific groups.
Sex Addiction Counseling Can Bring Lasting Relief
There has been considerable controversy amongst mental health professions as to whether or not Sex Addiction is a valid diagnosis. Sex Addiction or Hypersexual Disorder, as it was once known, is no longer in the DSM5 (other diagnoses continue to exist, such as voyeurism and exhibitionism). Yet, it is, however, a real disease that hurts many people. Opponents argue that the model is not “sex positive” or that the treatment providers are not adequately trained in human sexuality. In some cases, this is indeed true.
Dr. Winter has all of the necessary credentials needed to help those in need of sex addiction treatment. She brings nearly 30 years of experience. Her unique background blends sexology, psychology and addictions and focuses on the push towards a healthy relationship with one’s body and healthy sex; that is her work work is sex-positive. Dr. Winter is a certified sex addiction therapist (CSAT) trained by and in the task-centered model of Dr. Patrick Carnes, to whom the field is credited with evidence based treatment. She utilizes EMDR and the FSAP to work with the trauma and help heal sex addiction. She is the only certified sex addiction therapist and psychologist with this unique background that includes sexology, EMDR certification as well as Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples and Discernment Counseling.
Dr. Winter understands the deep pain, shame and isolation that an addictive cycle can perpetuate. She can help you struggle through the pain, establish recognition of yourself and what fuels your patterns, free yourself of your destructive behaviors and establish significant lasting relief and a healthy relationship with intimacy and sex.
If you’re wondering if your sexual behavior is “normal,” consider how it affects your life. It’s one thing to explore your sexual fantasies in private with a consenting partner or spouse. Sex becomes a problem when those fantasies, and the resulting actions, interfere with or threaten your daily life. If your sexual habits are causing harm to your relationships, professional life or wellbeing, it may be time to seek professional guidance and initiate the help you need.
How do I know if I’m a love addict and not a sex addict?
What’s the difference?
The seeking of the feeling of love and connection is the hallmark of the love addict or the person who compulsively seeks a relationship. Sex, seduction and manipulation comprise behaviors intended to secure an object of affection and is hallmark for the love addict who is looking for someone outside themselves to make them feel real.
The love addicted will go to lengths to compromise themselves for their relationship; they customarily take more responsibility for the relationship, are terrified to be alone and often seek connection with someone to whom they’re not well suited. Typically rooted in inconsistent or inadequate nurturing and abandonment, the seeking for love is a repetition of a trauma; love addicts do not thrive in the health and safety of a committed long term stable relationship. At the essence of their fantasy is that the idea that the relationship, whether it be romantic, a friendship, or with an icon, will heal them from their pain, albeit temporarily. That it will make them whole.
The obsessive features that often define the early part of a romantic relationship, a time when there is a lack of safety, continue because it’s a process that fuels these behaviors. A love addict typically compromises his or her own needs for the need to keep the object of their love connected.
Sexologist Dr. Winter has helped many with obsessive desires and dysfunctional behaviors for love (often unrequited), intimacy and connection achieve a more balanced and happy dating life.
Shame Can Be Isolating—Don’t Struggle Alone
Reconstructing a healthy relationship with sex, your body, food and money can be difficult. I understand the pain of addiction and am available to resolve your trauma and guide you through your recovery. Take the first step and reach out via phone or email with any questions or for an initial appointment at my Boca Raton office.