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Why There's No Such Thing as Sexual Addiction -- And Why It Really Matters: Part 2

By Dr. Marty Klein Expert
 
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PROFESSIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE CONCEPT

It reduces the credibility of sexologists.

Prospective patients are now asking therapists a new set of questions: "Are you in recovery yourself?" "Have you treated sex addicts before?" What if a therapist is emotionally/sexually healthy and therefore not "in recovery?" Is s/he then disqualified as a professional?

The public, I'm afraid, is now getting a picture of us as being ivory tower types out of touch with the real -- i.e., destructive -- sexuality out on the street. They're feeling, "You want to waste time discussing systems, regression, defenses, and meanwhile there are kids buying Playboy out there!"

It replaces professional sexologists as relevant sex experts.

There are two groups of people behind this:

a) Addictionologists, often in recovery themselves (i.e., they have unresolved sexual and impulse control issues). They typically have little or not training in sexuality; and

b) 12-steppers themselves, lay people who love being in recovery. Their missionary zeal has nothing to do with science or clinical expertise. They freely generalize their own experience with sexual problems and "recovery" to all people and to human sexuality.

Both groups of people are now being quoted -- and are actively portraying themselves -- as sex experts.

By offering training from people with little or no sexological background, the concept suggests that all sex therapists offer is just another "theory" about sexual functioning. Just as creationists now want (and frequently get) "equal time" when scientists teach or discuss evolution, addictionologists now want -- and are beginning to get -- "equal time" regarding sexual functioning.

Graduates of such training programs believe that they have learned something about sexuality, when they haven't. They have learned something about addiction. And they are taught that they are competent to treat addiction in any form, whether its vehicle is alcohol, food, gambling, love or sex.

Most addictionologists admit they lack skills in differential diagnosis. They and their 12-step programs let anyone define him/herself as a "sex addict.

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Sexual addiction is nothing like alcohol or heroin addiction. These are somatoform addictions/disorders that are based on a PHYSICAL addiction. Sexaholics do not need to be in a 12 step program...AT ALL..they need spiritual direction and counseling as well as clinical psycho-social intervention. Most 12 step groups are not even remotely helpful for sexaholics.....because the direction is aimless and has no spiritual or clinical intervention! This is a disease of the soul..not the body and needs to be addressed in a different way than alcoholism and drug addiction....sexual addiction is SIN...a moral disease process, rooted in original sin!

June 29, 2012 - 1:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Marty Klein has alot of opinions about alot of things....not much research to back him up. He sounds more like the fundamentalists he hates so much. I would suggest moving to more scientic venues. Lots of hot air.

June 17, 2010 - 8:40pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I see your point, but when I was active in my "addiction" or whatever you want to call it, I tried to get help from a "professional" and was told that there was nothing wrong in my behavior.

I was spending close to 40 hours a week watching porn, I would skip school, work, time with family, and sleep to watch porn. I didn't want to watch porn, but couldn't stop.

Now I stopped and my life is so much better. And I am so glad that I didn't listen to that professional, and found real help.

May 24, 2010 - 4:42pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

While I think that this article raises some very interesting thoughts, I think it suggests throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Yes, it is likely that those with sexual compulsiveity may have something else driving these issues. Maybe, they have a sociopathic personanility, bipoar or other behavioral health disorder. Perhaps they have unresolved issues from their childhood in relationships with their parents or were abused or in abusive relationships that they have not resolved. It is also possible that they are addicts either primarily addicted to compulsive sexual behavior or that is a co-occuring addiction with another or substitute for another addiction from which the person is recovering.
There may be many reasons that a person engages in complusive sexual behavior. That does not negate the negative consequences that this behavior can have on them, their family and their work. I don't believe anyone who classifies behavior as sexual addiction or compulsive sexual behavior is referring to adventurous or enthusiastic sexual behavior that people engage in. It that behavior that falls into the category where it consumes the persons thoughts, disrupts their lives and causing problems where it begins to cross the line.

February 1, 2010 - 9:54am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I agree with Anonymous, who posted July 10. You can preach about this all you want, but as an addict in recovery, I can assure you that this is a very real, incredibly hurtful and destructive disease. I have absolutely no control over my sexual behavior. I browse personals sites, in particular Craigslist, compulsively, all day, for hours and hours at a time, every day. I respond to hundreds of ads, some of which lead to anonymous encounters. When I'm finished, I feel remorseful, swear I'll never do it again, until the next day, or week, in which the cycle repeats itself. It has destroyed two relationships in my life and, if I can't recover, will continue to destroy my life.

I'm trying as hard as I possibly can to stop. I attend two meetings a week. I have a daily check in partner. I use the serenity prayer and other tools of the SAA fellowship to regain sanity. I pray, I journal, I work on the 12 steps. I've seen some progress, but it's slow and painful.

Sorry, Dr. Klein, but you're wrong.

July 22, 2009 - 7:36am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Wow. I don't think I've ever read anything more ignorant on this subject.

It wasn't very long ago that alcoholism was considered merely a moral failing, and not an addiction. I guess Bill W. and Dr. Bob were just tools of "the Right," trying to eliminate the fun in everyone's lives?

I am a sex addict in recovery, and I think Dr. Marty Klein has got this 100% WRONG.

July 10, 2009 - 10:24am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

What about self made porn? Pornographic materials people produce themselves with them selves and then share with others? How is that exploitive? Why are we as a society so dependant on the sex + love duality? I mean we accept that love without sex is possible and even desirable, so why do we denegrate sex without love? And why do we equat masturbation with "self love"? Our whole society is full of negative affirmations re pleasure and enjoyment. Sex addiction is a myth, and needs to be discredited.

June 28, 2009 - 12:45pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I can tell you that sex addiction is real and is the reason for the death of my marriage. My ex-husband prefers pornography and masturbation to sex with a real person. Therefore, he "spent" all of his intimacy on himself throughout our marriage. He repeated the cycle one too many times: confrontation, confession, change-promises, porn-discovery, confrontation, etc., and I left him. Just think what a wonderful sexual relationship we could have had together if he had invested some of that energy with me.

I don't think the masturbation itself is wrong; I do believe pornography is another way women are exploited and oppressed. The problem I have with his addiction is that it consumed his life. There was no desire for intimacy with me, his wife; no concern that his lies and his lack of investment in his children will forever impact them.

I am on my way to being a strong and independent woman who is able to appreciate her own sexuality in spite of the addict I was married to for far too long.

June 21, 2009 - 12:10pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Dr. Klein,
Thank you for this article. I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Patrick Carnes on a professional level. Although he truly believes his theories (as do many of his followers), I believe strongly that his theories are more of a justification for his own past behaviors. He is also a "sex addict" and has a very sordid history. He continues to struggle with compulsivity issues in other areas, and the business of training sex addiction therapists that he has created only goes to feed his own impulses.
Many of the therapists trained by Dr. Carnes have similar issues, although some do not. I only hope that they wake up and see that they are being led by the blind.

June 16, 2009 - 4:00pm
Aimee Boyle

Dr. Klien,
Really fascinating article. My favorite line is at the end, actually, when you write:' In these terrible anti-sex times, one of our most important jobs is to reaffirm that sexuality -- though complicated -- is precious, not dangerous.'
The profound truth and irony of this is that we seem to be more sexualized as a society than every before; teen pregnancy is at an all time high and sexting, web cams and over exposure in every form are becoming less and less taboo, more "normalized." However, even with all of that going on, it IS and anti-sex culture in so many ways - it's almost as if the prurient, puritanical, cut off aspects of our repression give rise to this strutting about and making a sort of clownish mockery of true, deep, connected sexuality.

Wonderful and thought provoking, thank you so much.
Aimee

June 16, 2009 - 12:54pm
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