What is Sexual Addiction?

Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC

What is Sexual Addiction?

Sexual addiction can best be understood in two parts.  These are “sex” and “addiction.”  The first of these, sex, includes the cognitive, emotional, relational, and physical expression of sexuality.  It is not limited to the act of sexual intercourse, but includes all variations of sexual expression, thoughts, emotional components, and relationship dynamics.

 

The second component is addiction.  Addiction pathology is similar, in many ways, regardless of the object of the addiction.  In this case, sex is the object.  Addiction is a form of pathological avoidance of reality.  It is an issue of escape.  Perhaps you have spoken to someone who is addicted and experienced the frustration attempting to get them to see and acknowledge reality.  It’s like the are living in another world.  Addiction, often times, originates as a means of escaping the loneliness, hurt, sadness and fear.    Addicts are committed to their avoidance.  They will expend considerable effort to maintain this system, despite its destructive impact on both them and others.

The sexually addicted individual utilizes sex as a means of destructive escape.  Sex is no longer a part of a healthy, marital relationship, as God designed it to be.  Instead, the addict becomes obsessively focused on increasing the arousal and intensity of sexual behaviors, at the expense of intimacy.  Sex addicts compulsively seek out and obtain sexual gratification in harmful ways.  They may utilize pornography, prostitution, anonymous encounters, swinging groups, voyeurism, and compulsive masturbation, to name a few.

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