Sex addiction is controversial. Some argue that this is not a form of addiction at all. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-5) has yet to profile sex addiction as a diagnosable disorder. There is, however, an indication that sex addiction has similar progressive patterns like that of any “chemical addiction”. Moreover, sex addiction isn’t even all about sex as much as a drug disorder is about drugs or eating disorders is all about food. This does not mean that sex addiction is not a problem.
It is an oversimplification when one states that sex addicts are those who crave lots of sex. These individuals have core issues such as depression, anxiety, stress that drive their sexual behaviours. This excess of risky sexual conduct significantly impacts one’s life, resulting in shame, isolation, and serious distress.
The Six Different Types of Sexual Addictions and Their Warning Signs
Some call sex addiction as compulsive sexual behaviour, others call it a hypersexual disorder. But by either name, their sexual problems place so much at stake – their social and personal lives as well as their employment. It also puts their health at risk as they are more likely to be threatened with sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Few recognise that not all sex addictions are the same. The fact is there are six different types of sex addiction and they affect the addict in different ways. A sex addict can be any of the six types or perhaps a combination of all the types of sex addiction.
1. Biological Sexual Addicts
Most sex addicts have this element and start with sex conditioning. These individuals form sexual attachments from real or imaginary objects, constantly and reinforcing intrinsic opiates to the brain. This creates sexual responses and cravings to whatever the object is. The brain is conditioned to seek neurological euphoria from the behaviour. The endorphins being released create a certain high inevitably leading to repeated patterns of this sexual compulsion.
Warning signs: Excessive masturbation and pornography.
2. Psychological Sexual Addicts
Many sexual addicts have been abused or neglected in the past. By sexually acting out their sexual impulses, they feel they are “comforted”; the sexual acts are a means to medicate their psychological pain. This individual project a fantasy world where imaginary messages dictate their behaviours. This, plus the brain’s potent chemical reactions become a powerful psychological reinforcer of their sexual attachments and compulsions.
Warning signs: Relying on fantasies to build self-image and esteem by acting out sexual urges.
3. Spiritual Sexual Addicts
An individual with this sexual disorder is searching for some sort of spiritual connection – in all the wrong places. This person may have gone through some type of ‘spiritual awakening’ and uses sexual behaviours to fill the void he/she may be experiencing. However, these sexual remedies do not really satiate that emptiness they feel. The short-term high from sexual fixation just increases the behaviour.
Warning signs: Looking for love through a ‘divine connection’; seeks spiritual fulfillment through sexual acts
4. Trauma-based Sexual Addicts
These are sex addicts who have experienced or encountered sexual trauma as a child or adolescent. The trauma they experienced is their addiction's main repetitive behaviour. Meaning, the trauma will become the predominant fantasy; it becomes a basis of their pornographic choices as well as re-enactment of sexual acts. In this case, the trauma would need to be directly addressed to resolve this inner conflict.
Warning signs: Predominant fantasies come from, and/or the trauma experienced as a child or adolescent
5. Intimacy Anorexia Sexual Addicts
This type of sex addiction involves avoiding affection, which often leads the spouse or partner to think or feel like a roommate. Intimacy anorexia is a secret disease that ruins many relationships and marriages.
Warning signs: There are ten hallmark signs. If you or your partner exhibit 5 or more of these signs, you are most likely dealing with this sexual disorder –
6. Mood Disorder Sexual Addicts
Persons with this type of sex addiction are confronted with chemical imbalances and uses sexual acts to overcome this imbalance. This is common with people who are suffering from depression. They then regularly and unexpectedly create an addiction over time using this sexual response.
Warning signs: Experience mood shifts that change daily or weekly; uses sexual addiction “ease” and to balance the mood shifts
More Signs and Symptoms of Sex Addiction
If you or a loved one suffers from sex addiction, there is a feeling of isolation, inadequacy – healthy boundaries are being constantly challenged. If your spouse or partner has a sexual addiction, you may feel alienated, alone, depressed, frustrated, or embarrassed and need treatment yourself. If you're sexually addicted, you may become sexually or emotionally entangled with people irrespective if you know them well enough or are strangers to you.
Other sexual activities that may signify hypersexual behaviours are:
If you or your partner exhibit and feel powerless in controlling these urges, it might be time to seek treatment from sex addiction. The Arden Centre have treatment options that are bespoke to your needs. We have treatment specialists that together with your own support group, address underlying factors and help you cope with your feelings and behaviours.
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