“If I drew a picture of myself of how this has affected me, I would be all in black. It would be like a black shadow expect that I would have this big empty hole in my chest, and I would be holding pieces of my heart in my hands. That’s the way that I have seen myself, it isn’t in colour, it isn’t happy and alive”
The words sexual addict can be overpowering to hear. Some have indicated that it brings shame and confusion, while others have shared that it brings a sense of clarity to overwhelming problem. Understanding what sexual addiction is, including the concept that there is a variety of ways that sexual addiction can be experienced, is often key to beginning the healing process for both the person with the addiction and the impacted partner. Sexual addiction can be understood as a “pathological relationship with a mood altering experience or thing that causes damage to the person and/ or others” (Griffin-Shelly, 2002).
“Like an alcoholic unable to stop drinking, sexual addicts are unable to stop their self-destructive sexual behavior. Family breakups, financial disaster, loss of jobs, and risk to life are the painful themes of their stories”
Dr. Patrick J. Canes, 2008
Many therapeutic communities are critical of the term sexual addict, as it can be stigmatizing and wide reaching in symptoms and severity (Hall, 2011). The term sexual addiction is used by Jacqueline in therapy and on this website to help describe the out of control and destructive thoughts and behaviours that centre on sexual behaviours that can deeply impact partners.
Griffin-Shelley, E. (2002). Adolescent sex and love addicts. In P.J. Carnes, & K. M. Adams (Eds.), Clinical management of sex addiction (pp. 343-360). New York, NY: Brunner- Routledge.
Hall, P.P. (2011). A biospychosocial view of sex addiction. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 26 (3), 217- 228.
Mayo Clinic Staff, “Compulsive sexual behavior”, Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/compulsive-sexual-behavor/DS00144/DSECTION
Tripodi, C. (2006). Long-term treatment of partners of sex addicts: A multi-phase approach. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13, 269-288.