Women’s Issues Articles

Psychiatric Care that Shortchanges Itself

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Psychiatric Care that Shortchanges ItselfOver the years I’ve grown more and more frustrated when viewing the mental healthcare system of which I am a part, as I consistently see this system fail to adequately meet the needs of various segments of the population. I have watched as the LGBT community, women, blacks, immigrants, children, and so many others – often the most disenfranchised among us – have been ignored, underserved, and even at times outright discriminated against. And not just by ignorant or otherwise unqualified clinicians. In fact, sometimes problematic diagnoses and treatments have been officially sanctioned, as was the case with the APA’s erstwhile designations of homosexuality as a mental illness and alcoholism as a personality disorder. Even now, if you’re not a well-to-do straight white male, you’re probably drawing the psychiatric short straw.


Valentine’s Day Massacred

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Valentine's Day MassacredWomen, Love, and Addiction

Valentine’s Day is once again upon us. For most happily paired individuals, February 14 is a day of chocolates, roses, and intimate time with a spouse or partner. However, for some more emotionally vulnerable single individuals, V-Day can feel like a cruel, frustrating, unjust reminder of their loneliness and unhappiness. The greatest sufferers are those who rely on an intimate relationship as their primary means of emotional stability and affect management. And while some men do struggle, SLA (Sex and Love Addiction) issues are more often a challenge faced by women, specifically those women for whom not being partnered can destabilize an already fragile ego state. For these “love addicted” ladies, the experience of romance, sexuality, and emotional closeness is, at best, a wildly emotional challenge beset with exuberant highs and painful lows. Living in emotionally chaotic, sometimes desperate worlds of emotional need and psychological despair, they fear being alone, being rejected, getting stuck in the “wrong” relationship, and most of all that they will never find that special someone – or, worse yet, that they will find the “perfect partner” and be deemed unworthy.


Love: The Healthy Addiction?

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Love: The Healthy Addiction?Some Famous Quotes about Love to Get Us Started:

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.” – Sophocles

“To be in love is merely to be in a state of perceptual anesthesia.” – H.L. Mencken

“Sometimes love is stronger than a man’s convictions.” – Isaac Bashevis Singer

“Loves makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” – Zora Neale Hurston

So, What is Love?

Romantic love, next to whatever happens after we die, has always been one of mankind’s greatest mysteries. LOVE is difficult to define, differs from person to person, yet somehow is easy for all to recognize. You sure know when it hits you – not unlike the flu. For eons men and woman have philosophized about what love is, how it occurs, and why it’s necessary, rarely coming up with anything more useful than really cool comments like, “Love is friendship set on fire.” Such sentiments make good song lyrics and poetry, but are not much help from a psychotherapy perspective. Nevertheless, despite centuries of vain attempts to fully define it, there is no denying that love exists, and that it’s as natural and essential to most human beings as breathing, eating, and sleeping.


Girls Gone Wild… Why Women Cheat

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

“Infidelity is best defined as the keeping of secrets in an intimate relationship.”

—Robert Weiss, 2006

Last week I published a blog on why men cheat. The piece generated an unexpectedly overwhelming response from all sides, with one of the main comments being, “It’s not just men who cheat.” And that statement is absolutely correct! Our cultural stereotypes tell us that it is usually men who step out on wives or girlfriends, but research actually indicates that nearly as many women cheat as men. And it does take two to dance the infidelity tango.

Studies on modern Western culture universally suggest that between 10 and 20 percent of men and women in marriages and other committed, long-term relationships are sexually unfaithful to their spouse or significant other. Interestingly, the reasons men and women cheat often differ by gender, and these reasons tend to parallel our general understanding of male versus female sexuality.

For example, when actively viewing pornography, males are typically more aroused by a rapid-fire succession of visual images, objectified body parts, and concrete sexual acts, whereas females tend to be more responsive to sexual imagery that includes some kind of emotional connection.


Obstacles in Treating Women with Relationship and Sexual Addiction

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Sexual Addiction… in Progress

The recently released film Girl in Progress is on the surface a coming of age story about Ansiedad, a sixteen-year-old girl who develops a plan—based on the clichés of young adult literature—for growing up quickly. A more interesting character in the film is the girl’s mother, Grace, portrayed by Eva Mendez.

On the one hand, Grace is an immigrant single mom trying desperately to make her way in the world while providing for an ungrateful daughter. On the other hand, she’s an archetype for sexual and romantic addiction among women, looking for love in all the wrong places, at all the wrong times, with all the wrong men, despite the emotional and psychological damage this behavior causes to both her and her daughter.

Though Girl in Progress is not likely to become a cornerstone of modern American cinema (early reviews have been mixed, at best), it at least serves as a reminder that sexual addiction is not an entirely male phenomenon, even though media portrayals of sexual addiction focus almost exclusively on men.

The fact is, between 8 and 12 percent of those currently seeking treatment for sexual addiction are women, and we are likely to see those numbers increase as clinicians gain diagnostic clarity.


How Do I Know if She Is Cheating?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Studies universally suggest that somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of people in committed relationships sexually cheat on their spouse or significant other. Of course, in today’s world of chat rooms, webcams, instant messaging, and instant pornography, the concept of cheating is, in the minds of many who do it, somewhat malleable and easier to deny than in the past, when cheating meant actual live physical contact.

So in consideration of our evolving Internet definitions and experiences of cheating, it is likely that 10 to 20 percent number is an underestimate.

While our cultural stereotypes tend to focus on men stepping out on their wives or girlfriends, the fact of the matter is almost as many women are unfaithful as men. It does take two to dance the infidelity tango. Some women stray sexually when seeking some form of deeper romantic connection or emotional support seemingly missing in a primary relationship.

But many others will cheat for the very same reason most men do: they just want more or better or different sex.


Women, Food, Drugs and Addictions: Identifying the Missing Piece

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Betty’s Story

Betty has been referred into treatment for a binge eating disorder (BED) by her long-time psychotherapist, who sees out-of-control patterns emerging that need to be addressed outside of the outpatient frame. Betty arrives 75 pounds overweight and has a number of health problems, but with the right combination of therapy and self-care she starts looking and feeling better than ever.

Once home and attending support groups and meetings, Betty finds that men are now taking note of her “improved look.” Betty finds herself both feeling sexy and wanting to be seen. So out she goes, looking for “the one” but settling instead for a lot of romantic attention and casual sex.

Eventually she finds “the one” and settles down into a committed relationship. Sadly, within a few short months of playing house Betty begins to gain weight and within 18 months, Betty has gained back 60 pounds, but also loses her new romantic partner who walks out the door not having gotten the woman he bargained for. This pattern plays out not once or twice, but nearly every time Betty gets into a serious relationship. It has never been identified.


Female Archetypes of Love & Sex Addiction: Dora Danger Girl

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

This is the friend you worry about. You wonder how she doesn’t end up in the hospital or on the late-night news. She doesn’t seem the least bit afraid of hooking up with strangers, even those she just met online. When it comes to sex and intimate relationships she takes a typical male role. Much like the character Samantha in Sex in the City, Dora has all the sex she wants and that’s just how she likes it. No one gets too close; no one can really hurt Dora.

Into the high of meeting new men, Dora hooks up online, through social networks on her smart phone, and in local bars. Dora often meets men for the first time at their apartments, never considering this might be dangerous because it’s so exciting.


Female Archetypes of Love & Sex Addiction: Lucy the Love Addict

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Lucy the Love Addict – you have likely encountered her: She is dying for love. Always on the hunt for Mr. Right, her eyes scan every crowd looking for him wherever she goes. Unable to tolerate dinner or a movie out alone, and unwilling to go places or attend events unless available men will be there, she stays home alone a lot … but searches online. When out, Lucy’s made up and ready for a date whether at the Laundromat or picking up a few things at the corner store. You never know, he could be there — the man who will make everything okay. The one who will finally make her feel whole.

For a love addict like Lucy, every place has the potential for her to meet her one true love. Obsessed with finding the guy who will make her life complete, Lucy’s needful drama and intensity tend to turn men off. Sadly her relationships rarely go beyond the first few days, yet she doesn’t understand why.


Can Women be Sex Addicts?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

From what the media tells us, sexual addiction is a strictly male problem – or least that is all we seem to hear. Men cheating on their wives, men seeing prostitutes, men going to strip clubs, massage parlours and of course, male politicians sexting online.

Does this mean that there are no female sex addicts? If there are women out there who are acting out with sex, where are they and why don’t we hear more about them?

The news media gives endless examples of famous husbands who betray their wives in ways that often result in public humiliation for them both (Clinton, Sanford, Tiger, Weiner, etc.). But what about women who ‘act out’ with sex and romance? While we know that women act out additively with food, drugs, alcohol, gambling spending and caretaking, the truth is that there is little to no research on female sex and relationship addiction.


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Recent Comments
  • Aalish: this has effecting my sexuality as well, but not only from my marriage which basically died, but also casual...
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