Childhood Covert Incest and Adult Life

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Childhood Covert Incest and Adult LifeDashiell, a 29-year-old CPA, first came to see me after his self-described “healthy sexual appetite” went from fun to over-the-edge to addiction. In our initial assessment, Dash told me his sexual behavior had spiraled out of control, resulting in a string of reprimands at work (for downloading porn on company owned equipment) and eventually the loss of his job. Dash was also using “adult friend finder” apps, primarily Ashley Madison and Tinder, to seek out casual sexual encounters and prostitutes. Unsurprisingly, he was in deep denial about his sexual problems – justifying, minimizing, blaming, and deflecting like a seasoned addict. Nevertheless, his treatment motivation was high, even though he was hoping to not give up the escapist and highly compulsive sexual intensity that ruled his life.

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Esteemed Study Identifies Sexual Addiction as Identifiable and Diagnosable

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Esteemed Study Identifies Sexual Addiction as Identifiable and Diagnosable All Highly Pleasurable Substances and Behaviors Have Addiction Potential

Led by Dr. Valerie Voon, a group of researchers at the University of Cambridge (UK) recently published a detailed fMRI study showing that the brain activity in sex addicts, when they are shown pornography, mirrors the brain activity in drug addicts when they are exposed to drug-related imagery. This study strongly suggests that sexual addiction not only exists, but in fact manifests in profoundly similar ways to other more readily accepted forms of addiction like alcoholism, drug addiction, and Internet addiction.

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Narcissism, Porn Use, and Addiction

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Narcissism, Porn Use, and AddictionProof that Porn Users are Narcissistic

Any clinician who treats sex and porn addicts on a regular basis can tell you that our clients, both male and female, tend to be highly narcissistic – a quality that often makes for a tempestuous therapist-client relationship. Simply put, evidence from the field strongly suggests that sex and porn addicts are nearly always self-centered and self-absorbed, often to an extreme degree, not only sexually but elsewhere in their lives. Of course, it’s nice to have scientific research that backs up what we typically see in our practices, and a recent study, Narcissism & Internet Pornography Use, accepted for publication in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, does exactly that.

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GLBT Addiction and Recovery: An Interview with Jeff Zacharias

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

GLBT Addiction and Recovery: An Interview with Jeff ZachariasBecause I sometimes find that the issues therapists deal with differ by region, I like to chat with men and women at the forefront of our profession in various areas of the country. Among these clinical leaders is Jeff Zacharias, Owner, President, and Clinical Director of New Hope Recovery Center in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. New Hope primarily serves Chicago’s LGBT community. Jeff also has a private practice in Lincoln Square. He specializes in the treatment of all forms of addiction, with a focus on sex and love addiction.

Recently I spoke with Jeff about the issues he commonly sees in the Chicago area, and how he and his colleagues approach treatment to those particular challenges.

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Intervention: Getting Addicts into Treatment

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Intervention: Getting Addicts into TreatmentThe Client

Margaret, a 29-year-old married mother of two preschool aged children, starts in therapy at the insistence of her husband, Jason, who wants her to stop drinking and popping pills. In the first session, she tells you there is nothing wrong with her behaviors, and it’s her husband who’s off-base. “He expects me to be this perfect little 1950s housewife. He doesn’t understand that women like that just don’t exist. I’m only coming to therapy to get him off my back.” And quietly, just before the session ends, she says, “You can refill my valium prescription, right?”

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Therapists and Clients: Common Problems and How to Avoid Them

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Therapists and Clients: Common Problems and How to Avoid ThemTherapists Are Not Perfect

As therapists, each of us would like to do exactly the right thing in each and every session. However, given the stressful nature of our work, the lengthy and sometimes sporadic hours, the occasional inability to feel secure in our continued income, and even our own not-yet-totally-resolved issues, we sometimes fall a bit short of this lofty goal. Simply put, despite our good training, supervision, and continuing education, we occasionally make errors. A few of the more common therapeutic missteps are discussed below, along with suggestions on how to avoid them. That said, professional organizations have guidelines that are (and always should be) a therapist’s first line of defense in this regard. Plus, without doubt I’ve missed a few things. If so, please add your thoughts on those issues in the comments section. That way, anything I’ve overlooked will still be discussed.

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Can Protective Software Help Addicts Maintain Sobriety?

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Can Protective Software Help Addicts Maintain Sobriety?Battling Tech with Tech

It’s no secret that access to 24/7 digital technology can facilitate addiction. The Internet and related technologies have greatly increased the average person’s ability to affordably and anonymously access an almost endless array of addictive substances (illicit drugs, prescription medications, and the like) and activities (spending, gambling, video gaming, pornography, non-intimate sexual encounters, and the like). The simple truth is that if you know where to look, you can find anything you want online. As a result, over the last two decades, as digital technology has proliferated, the number of people walking into therapists’ offices with addiction-related issues (especially behavioral addictions) has steadily and significantly increased.

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Gaslighting: How Addicts Drive Loved Ones Over the Edge

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Gaslighting: How Addicts Drive Loved Ones Over the EdgeWhat Is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where false information is presented to the victim by a spouse or another primary attachment figure, causing the victim to doubt his or her perceptions, judgments, memories, and even sanity. The term derives from the 1938 stage play, Gaslight, and a pair of film adaptions, one in 1940 and a more famous one in 1944 starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. In the 1944 film, Boyer’s character convinces his wife (Bergman) that she’s imagining things, such as the occasional dimming of the house’s gas lights, as part of his ongoing effort to steal her deceased Aunt’s money and jewels. (The gas lights dim whenever he is in the attic, searching for the treasure.) Over time, his insistent and persistent lies cause her and others to question her sanity.

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With No Formal Diagnosis or Treatment Plans, How Can Sex Addiction Exist?

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

With No Formal Diagnosis or Treatment Plans, How Can Sex Addiction Exist?After more than twenty years spent treating, speaking about, and writing about sexual addiction, I’ve heard all the arguments (and then some) both in favor of and against utilizing an addiction-focused model of diagnosis and treatment to identify and help individuals who self-report repetitive, problematic patterns of impulsive and/or compulsive sexual behavior. For the most part, those who believe that sexual addiction (also known as sexual compulsivity and hypersexual disorder) is simply a myth tend to offer some combination of the five challenges presented below. I thought it might be both interesting and useful to examine the validity/reality of these concerns here.

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Do You Want to be Happy?

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Do You Want to be Happy?What is Happiness?

As a therapist, I often encounter clients who say things like: “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I have everything I want and yet I never feel satisfied. There’s no joy in my life. Maybe I’m just not a happy kind of person. Maybe I’m just a glass-half-empty person.” When I get hit with that sort of proclamation, I typically respond with a few probing questions: “What would happiness look like and feel like for you? How would you know if you had achieved it?” Sadly, much of the time these “unhappy” clients simply don’t have an answer. For them, happiness seems so elusive that they can’t even picture it.

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