Asking a sex addict to take a polygraph seemed ludicrous to me at first. First off, it seems like something you do with a criminal, not with a patient who has come in for help with a sexually compulsive behavior.
It is certainly true that addicts are world class liars. In fact, as I have argued in previous posts, they often seem sociopathic in their dishonesty and lack of accountability to anyone. But in treatment we are trying to help addicts learn to be honest. We want to promote honesty as a value, not coerce them into it with police tactics.
I recently presided over a formal disclosure with an addict and his wife along with her therapist. The addict disclosed “everything” about his history of leading a double life including extensive use of prostitutes, strip clubs, sexual massage parlors and pornography.
Later in a group therapy session he was discussing the fact that his wife still felt he was keeping secrets. I said that sometimes therapists recommend a polygraph test and he quickly said he was unwilling to consider that. He added that he would be afraid to take a polygraph because there were things he hadn’t told his wife. It turned out that these were not minor details either. In this case the mere mention of a polygraph was enough to get the addict to come clean with the group, the therapist and ultimately his wife.
So what would be the rational for considering or discussing the use of polygraphs with sex addicts or couples?
For the sake of the addict
For sex addiction recovery honesty is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Obviously addicts cannot address their problems in treatment if the nature or extent of those problems is hidden. The goal of sex addiction treatment is not just abstaining from a compulsive behavior pattern. It also involves breaking down the compartmentalization of the addict’s life: the normal life vs. the secret sexual acting out life. The new and healthier way of living is one in …
Divorce is always a big adjustment and often carries with it a period of grief and other strong emotions. But breaking up with a sex addict brings its own strange set of challenges. Here are some of the questions people in this situation have to deal with.
I do not take sides on the issue of whether it is better to stay in a marriage or committed relationship with a sex addict or whether it is better to get away and start over. I think there are many valid arguments on both sides depending on the situation.
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I was starting a romantic relationship a while back with a guy I liked a lot. I was talking to a friend about it and the friend said “how does he get along with your dog?” This was a striking question at the time because the guy, as nice as he seemed, didn’t relate to the dog at all! As it turned out I should have trusted my friend– and the dog.
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