When is someone a sex addict or just a Weiner?

Book "Out of the Shadows" - Understanding Sexual AddictionSexual addiction is a large problem in many societies that is seldom talked about because of the negative stigma of someone being a “sex addict” and  the addict often does not realize they are addicted.  Even the professionals in Psychology still argue about whether it is in fact an addiction since it generally has no “physiological” basis such as heroin, nicotine or alcohol addiction.  One of my friends Dr. Gary Kindley  specializes in counseling for sexual and sexual addiction issues because sex addiction is often a serious problem in many relationships.   So I asked Dr. Kindley how you define a sex addict and he said, “When sexual acts, thoughts or behaviors disrupt someone’s ability to lead a normal life then it has reached the category of an addiction.  This is especially true when it has become a damaging influence.”  So, using this definition as the test of whether someone has a sexual addiction issue would define Congressman Weiner as a sex addict and not just, well, a “weiner” which in addition to being defined as a hot dog, sausage or a penis is also used to identify “a stupid person”.  Perhaps Congressman Weiner is both a sex addict and a stupid person.

Another view of “sexual addiction is that it is a model to explain ‘hypersexuality’, according to Wikipedia these are “sexual urges, behaviors or thoughts that appear extreme in frequency or feel out of one’s control.”   The professionals, i.e. Psychologists, Counselors, Psychiatrists and others are mixed on whether hypersexuality is truly an addiction but they generally propose a 12-Step like program to help people deal with it such as through Sex Addicts Anonymous or a more intensive program involving cognitive behavioral therapy similar to that created to treat Sex Offenders in many states.   Aversion therapy  is another form of treatment where the subject is taught to associate an unpleasant smell such as ammonia, or an actual physical pain with a particular thought or chain of thoughts that they wish to avoid but results here have been mixed.  (Coincidentally, this is  the therapy used in the movie “A Clockwork Orange” which celebrated its 40th anniversary recently, and was used as a futuristic way to reform criminals).

The real problem with most sex addicts or others engaged in hypersexuality  is that they do not realize they have a problem until they get into trouble or their lives take a turn for the worse.  If they had been encouraged to seek help by relatives, friends or colleagues who were aware of some of their activity then perhaps they might be able to avoid later damage to their lives and those around them.   Once discovered, as is the case with Congressman Weiner, it still seems he fails to understand that he has a problem.  This also helps explain why so many other people including celebrities, politicians and others who have been engaged in what might be considered self-destructive sexual behaviors may go for many years before their behavior comes to light.  They didn’t believe they had a problem or they rationalized its existence to themselves (lied to themselves).   Most are usually slow to admit guilt or recognize that they have a need for an intervention in their lives.  While many sex addicts may apologize for their behaviors, it is really only when they recognize they have a problem and seek or are required to get professional help that might be able to change their thinking and with this change their behavior.   While the urge to procreate may be a natural impulse,  it is a thought-based behavior problem when sexual activities lead to self-destructive behaviors or harm others.

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