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Carnes (2001) explains the addictive experience for the sexual addict is a four step cycle that intensifies with each reoccurrence. The first step is preoccupation where the addict becomes totally engrossed with sexual thoughts. This state of mind induces an obsessive search for sexual stimulation. The next step is ritualization where the addict performs his own special routines that intensify the preoccupation increasing arousal and excitement. The third step is the manifestation of the compulsive sexual behavior; this is the culmination of preoccupation and the ritualization. Sexual addicts do not have the capability to control or stop this behavior. The final step is despair where the sexual addict experiences profound hopelessness about their actions and their inability to control their behavior.
Typically it takes a major crisis where the consequences are so great, or the pain is so bad, that an addict must come to terms with his or her addiction. Carnes (1983) lists some of these events: when the squad car pulls into the driveway and you know why they've come, when you break off yet another relationship you never wanted to be in, when your spouse announces the end of your marriage because of the latest discovery, when your daughter's friend sees your photo in the mug shots at the police station and no one in your family knew, when the school councilor calls to inform you that your daughter does not want to come home because, after eight years, she no longer wants to be sexual, and you are being reported to child protection, when you have a car accident while exposing yourself. The consequences for the addict his or her spouse, and his family are devastating.
Bird (July, 2006) acknowledges there are differences in the experiences of the sexual addict across gender and sexual orientation, yet, by and large, the addictive experience appears far more similar than different. Addicts continue to engage in sexual behaviors despite negative consequences to their personal life and relationships. Even though addicts experienced shame and isolation as a result of their behavior they were unable to cease them. In order to avoid further negative consequences, sexual addicts endeavor to hide their behavior from their spouses.
Partners report a feeling that something is wrong generally and feeling of distance in their relationship with their addicted partner, but are unable to identify what is causing those feelings. Eventually they begin employing detective behaviors until they uncover their partner's addictive behaviors[continue]
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