The Truth About Sex Addiction
Could Tiger Woods have a sex addition problem? The facts about this affliction.
“Is Tiger Woods a Sex Addict?” So reads the headline of a recent news story on CBS.com and, after being inundated with the sordid details of Tiger’s cheating history (what are we up to now, 10, 12 mistresses?) – it doesn’t sound so crazy. Or does it? is this just a lame excuse concocted by savvy publicists? Or might Tiger really be suffering from an affliction? And more to the point – does it really exist?
You’re probably thinking, “Sex addiction, riiiight – that’s the excuse David Duchovny gave for not being able to keep it in his pants.” But sex addiction is very much a real problem. Real enough to spur a new VH1 Dr. Drew Pinsky series, Sex Rehab, a segment on Oprah, and six, yes six, different anonymous recovery groups.
Most people like sex. Think about it a lot. And even go to great lengths to seek it out. But at what point is it an addiction?
According to sexhelp.com, a website run by sex addiction specialist Dr. Patrick J. Carnes, sex addiction can be defined as “any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living.” Sex addiction isn’t necessarily about having a lot of sex as much as it is having a sexual behavior that a person can’t stop even when he or she wants to — because they are hurting their loved ones or themselves by doing it.
A sex addict may be a guy who spends all of his money on prostitutes, a guy who can’t stop masturbating once he starts, a woman who tries to sleep with all of her friends boyfriend’s to feel powerful, or someone who feels an uncontrollable urge to have sex with many different partners. Somewhat ironically, many sex addicts don’t even really enjoy having sex. They don’t feel anything while they’re doing the deed, and many don’t even have orgasms. And after they have had sex they feel a great sense of guilt or shame.
“Almost always a sex addict lacks normal coping mechanisms and uses sex as a way to self-medicate every feeling. They use it when they feel sad, when they are celebrating, or when they are bored,” explains Sharon O’Hara, the clinical director of the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles. It’s a compulsion: sex addicts turn to sex when they need comfort, just like binge eaters turn to food. “Sex addiction is almost always about a secret life.” O’Hara adds. “Sex addicts lie to their loved ones about their addiction. They lie about everything – where they are, and what they’re doing.”