Risk Factors in Recovery From Sexual Betrayal

At the recent CSAT convention in February the emphasis was on partners and couples recovering from the posttraumatic stress of sex addiction. The numerous lectures covered a wide range of topics, but several things stood out to me.

What follows are some snippets I gleaned which are by no means meant to address betrayal trauma as a whole or the many issues involved in disclosure, assessment and treatment.   Rather they are suggestions regarding some of the relevant risk factors and healing strategies.


New Study on Porn and Erectile Dysfunction is a Wax Banana

I chose the metaphor of fake fruit to describe the recent article by Prause and Pfaus entitled Viewing Sexual Stimuli Associated with Greater Sexual Responsiveness, Not Erectile Dysfunction. I did this not because of any phallic symbolism with bananas but because the authors present fake conclusions. Published in the online journal Sexual Medicine (04/2015; DOI: 10.1002/sm2.58) this article appears to offer a synthesis of findings from Prause's prior attempts at porn research.  On closer inspection the article turns out to be lacking in any real substance.


Sadistic Sex: Orientation, Addiction or Lifestyle?

The mother of a 15 year old boy recently reached out to one of my colleagues for advice regarding her son's seemingly out-of-control preoccupation with kinky sex and highly sadistic pornography. (This boy was described as bright, poopular and high functioning). The response among my fellow clinicians was mixed.


If You Never Go Limp

I am impressed with the fact that men, the same men who are reluctant to have any fears or vulnerabilities, are all but obsessed with one persistent insecurity: their sexual potency. Normal men seem to be just this side of having a body dysmorphic disorder about their penis size and experience performance anxiety that is crippling enough to make them take ED drugs when they don't need them.

A recent article (1/25/15) reported the data on men's Google searches which found that men make more Google searches about their penises than about any other body part, more than about their lungs, liver, feet , ears, nose, throat and brain combined.

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The Whack-a-Mole Effect: Tackling New Addictions in Sexual Recovery

Sex Addicts in recovery have worked hard to identify their damaging addictive sexual behaviors such as out-of-control porn use, constant sexual hook-ups, or the obsessive pursuit of commercial sex. And they are often able to identify and eliminate other addictions such as drugs or alcohol which co-exist with their primary sex addiction.

In addition to these off limits behaviors, sex addiction treatment and 12-step programs help the addict to be on the alert for "slippery" behaviors. These might include things like driving through the neighborhood where the addict's favorite sexual massage parlor is located. These are red flags because although they are not forbidden, they can lead down the path toward relapse.

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How Denial Works in Sex Addiction

Denial is a form of distorted thinking. In fact it is a masterpiece of distorted thinking. Breaking through denial marks the beginning of addiction treatment. This is just as true for sexual addiction and behavioral addictions generally as it is for chemical dependency.

Without treatment, the set of ideas, rationalizations and beliefs that constitute a system of denial become more and more entrenched and tend to spread, becoming a world view which supports a deceptive and disordered way of life.

Even for a practicing sex addict, there are moments of clear-headedness when he or she suspects that they are engaging in a problematic or pathological pattern of behavior. But that awareness does not hold up. Why? Because denial is distorted thinking in the context of a semi-dissociated (i.e. "checked out") state.


6 Ways Helping Others Helps Addicts Recover

Addicts are afraid of other people. Sex addiction has been aptly described as an intimacy disorder, a disorder resulting from an avoidance of intimacy and a compartmentalization of one's life and one's sense of self. and their early life experience typically makes them feel unlovable and unable to be themselves around other people. Addicts deal with this dilemma by creating a facade or false self that they show to the world. Their real self, including their deepest sexual desires are compartmentalized and hidden.


Are You Dating a Narcissist or a Borderline?

Perhaps you have been involved with someone who appears to be seriously interested in the relationship but who sometimes goes emotionally off the rails, lashes out at you, and becomes over-defensive. And what if they also have an exaggerated need for attention, over-react when criticized, and seem to shut you out for no reason?

Leaving aside the question of whether you should stick around, and assuming instead that you see some value in this person, you may be wondering whether they are exhibiting signs of a personality disorder. And if you think they are, you may begin to speculate as to whether the person is a narcissist or a borderline.


Can Serial Cheaters Change?

A reader posted this question as to whether serial cheaters can change. In thinking about it I realized the answer is not a simple yes or no. Many factors enter into the prognosis for serial cheating such as the characteristics of the cheater, whether the cheating is part of an addiction, the motivation to cheat and the motivation to change.

Cheating in general is so common that it further complicates separating out what is serial cheating and what is just the normal state of affairs (as it were). The statistics I have seen are from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy: