Anastasios D. Kalantzis, Surgeon Urologist-Andrologist
The term “addiction” in the Greek etymology dictionary is defined as the acquisition of a habit or a compulsion which affects our behavior and psychism. Addiction is synonym to obsession and dependence, which mean a pathological condition that leads the person to an endless and desperate seek for pleasure.
It is common knowledge that addictions are both physical and psychological, a fact that makes rehabilitation even more difficult.
As sexual addiction is defined the compulsive-obsessive urge of a person to constantly seek sexual experiences, while exhibiting great distress from deprivation symptoms, when they are not capable to satisfy their urges. It is an obsessive-compulsive behavior which dominates over the addicted person’s life and Sex becomes the organizing principle of their ways and whole existence.
One of the first specialists who spoke about sexual addiction was the American Patrick Carnes when, in 1983, he published his book “Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction”, which has helped, since then, thousands of people to recognize how destructive this addiction is and to be rehabilitated and cured, as well as achieve healthy relationships and fulfillment in their lives.
Sexual addiction (also referred to as sexual dependency or hypersexuality) is not a commonly accepted condition, there is no consensus over its recognition as a distinct disorder or syndrome, and specialists disagree on whether it is another addiction type or whether it is part of a more general obsessive-complulsive disorder (as an obsessive sexual behavior), or if it should be included in non-otherwise defined sexual disorders. It should also be mentioned that it may belong to the wider symptomatology of another condition, such as manic depression – bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or it can be a defense against excessive stress and anxiety, with pleasure operating as a substitute for a stress-relief medication.
There is no specific behavioral pattern defining sexual addiction. Even the healthiest expression of human sexuality may turn into an uncontrollable and self-destructive behavior. Such types of sexual behavior are complulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual or homosexual affairs, nymphomania, pornography, prostitution or use of prostitutes, exhibitionism or voyeurism, high-risk sex, deviant sex (e.g. sadomasochism), phone sex or cybersex, and can reach very extreme and reprehensible conditions, which are prosecuted by the law, such as child molestation, incest, rape and generally any other form of violence.
This condition has long term results and, as the sexual urge becomes uncontrollable, the person starts facing problems and enters into conflict with the members of their family and work and is no longer accepted by their immediate social environment. This person has been entangled in a vicious and self-perpetuating circle, from which they can find no way out: the sexual drive and desire becomes even greater, they are no longer likeable or accepted and become isolated. They start feeling guilt and shame for the pain they caused to their close environment and the entire process starts over.
But what is the intriguing factor that leads a person to become addicted to sex?
As with the other forms of addiction (alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling etc.), the person cannot control their urge which will give them momentary emotional disconnection from reality as well as pleasure and euphoria. Sexual obsession becomes a form of escape from everyday problems and from negative feelings such as low self-esteem and feeling of self-unworthiness, dissociation from the feeling of loneliness and the emotional void felt and experienced by the addicted person. Also, a great percentage of sexually addicted persons have been molested in childhood. More generally, behind any form of addiction there is an abnormal balance in the triptych of thought, body and feeling.
In the case of all other forms of addiction, the solution would be “cut it out”! But in the case of sexual addiction things are more complicated, as sexual activity is an inseparable element of human biology and nature, from which nobody should abstain.
Being a symptom, condition or compulsion, sexual addiction is a condition which requires immediate help and treatment by a specialist.
1. Victoria Prekate, Psychologist–Author – “Sexual Addiction: The Invisible Prison”, 18/05/2009, www.iatronet.gr
2. E. Eleftheriou, Psychotherapist-Clinical Therapist of Sexual Disorders – “Sexual Addictions: Dependence or Compulsion”, www.emas.gr
3. Evi Syrou, Cognitive Psychologist-Synthetic Self-Awareness – “Sexual Addiction”, www.evysyrou.gr
4. “Addictions-One of the most serious human problems”, 15/06/2010, http://billieplace.wordpress.com