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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Understanding LGBTQ-Affirmative Psychotherapy

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

Understanding LGBTQ-Affirmative PsychotherapyI don’t understand the concept of having a “gay agenda.” In my belief system caring people closely hold to a “human agenda” of loving, accepting, and helping all people.

What are L, G, B, T, and Q?

We live in a heteronormative society. In other words, heterosexual relationships are the cultural norm, and anything different is, well, different. Yes it is true that things are changing rapidly in parts of the Western world and elsewhere – evolving societal attitudes about cultural diversity, softening religious dogma, the repeal of DOMA and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, growing intolerance of pejorative terms like “faggot,” “homo,” and “dyke,” legalized gay marriage, and more – but this doesn’t mean that people whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity falls outside the norm suddenly have an easy time of it. In fact, these individuals typically experience, at best, confusion (not just from others but within themselves) about who/what they are why/how they are different. In fact, sometimes even psychotherapists are unsure about what it means to be LGBTQ, and even the clinicians who do possess a basic understanding typically bring a lifetime of cultural bias to the therapy room.

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The Missing Treatment Link – Viewing Addiction as Symptomatic of Disordered Intimacy

By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S

The Missing Treatment Link  -  Viewing Addiction as Symptomatic of Disordered Intimacy Escape versus Connection

Alcoholics and drug addicts don’t drink and use to feel better; they do it to feel less. In other words, addiction is a disease of escape and dissociation from stress and other forms of emotional discomfort. This means that substance abusers don’t get drunk or high because they’re looking to engage with other people, they do it because they’re hoping to avoid the turmoil of other people. Nevertheless, our very human desire for connection that is present from birth onward remains in effect. As such, drug addicted individuals typically do want to connect, even though they are desperately afraid of the trauma that might ensue.

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