One better way of describing sexual addiction is the presence of the 4 C’s:
- Loss of Control of amount or frequency of use
- Compulsion to use
- Use despite Consequences.
Consider a person who finds going to a sex worker so pleasurable that he regularly visits brothel or street based sex workers after work (Craving). His venting of sexual urge through sex workers escalates to overcome tolerance, and he experiences withdrawal when he abstains. He tries and repeatedly fails to cut down (loss of Control). He begins to reorganize his life in order to maximize opportunities to visit sex workers, neglecting his work and family (Compulsion). Eventually his spouse leaves and he runs into huge debt and eventually loses his job (Consequences).
The above is just one example of many expressions of sexual addiction. For some it could be watching pornography and for others it could be masturbating multiple times in a day or having sex talk to a stranger on live cams or even going to massage parlours for having hand relief (happy ending) (i.e. masseuse masturbating the male client).
Sex therapist and psychologists are the two groups of professionals who are very likely to witness the changing social patterns and its impact on many aspects of a person’s life, especially sexuality.
Well trained sex therapists and psychologists can offer therapy as a means of treating sex addiction by helping the patient to understand and express the underlying issues triggering their sex addiction before they are acted upon in a self-destructive manner.
In America, sexual addiction has been defined by The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. They deem sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behaviour acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” So we might say that the sex addict continues their behaviour despite the potential costs whether they be financial, emotional or health related.
Not all who watch internet pornography or masturbate on a daily basis could be considered as addicts. In a study, many men and women who watched porn on a regular basis did not consider that they have a problem or that there is a need to seek help. In fact, they justified their act of watching pornography and masturbating is a much safer and cheaper alternative to visiting sex workers and moreover there is no risk of spreading infections. While this is well acceptable as long as watching porn and/or masturbation has not become a dependent behaviour (meaning they must do it in order to get sleep). One strategy to self-check whether you have become dependent on a particular sexual behaviour (e.g. internet porn watching) is to abstain from it for a week or two and self-assess your tolerance level. If you find yourself restless and irritable (signs of craving) then it is time to seek some advice or help. It is never too late to seek help. Earlier the better for long term benefits.
Original article written by Dr Vijay Ramanathan