They need a supportive, stable person in their lives. If the child is abused, he or she is missing a key part of their development. They continue to grow up believing that they are alone. Not only is this feeling brought on by abuse but if a parent dies or the child is torn between a divorce, the adult can still feel abandoned. Sex fills that void, the individual feels that he or she is wanted and is being taken care of for the duration of the act. Afterwards, they find themselves alone and are once again on the prowl for another conquest.
But sexual addiction doesn't arise only from sexual abuse or from inadequate parental love. Nymphomania -- or "Don Juanism -- can result from a condensation of the striving for sexual satisfaction coupled with the need to reassure one's self-esteem (Kornblu, 1997, pp. 344-369). These constant sexual escapades can be used to contradict feelings of inferiority and to reassure fears over losing love. If these urges are not immediately satisfied, the individual may turn towards sadistic behaviors. Eisenstein believed that hypersexuality served many defensive functions as well, including warding off castration anxiety, supporting repression or denial of homosexual urges and counteracting feelings of guilt or shame. (Pfaus, 1999, pp. 751-758)
The sex addict is caught in a continuously downward spiral, where confused feelings will trigger the need for sexual acts which will continue to confuse the individual. The addiction cycle according to Carnes (1992, p. 15):
The addict is preoccupied with sex. The thought of it fills his/her mind everyday. He or she finds it hard to think of much else. Ritualization includes long-term planning, the addict decides where, when, how and who. Hours, even days can go into planning a sexual encounter. Often the entire event must be perfect and the individual allows other important commitments fall to the wayside. Finally the actual sexually compulsive act is performed and despair quickly follows. The addict wants desperately to stop and live their life "normally" but finds that they are quickly preoccupied with sex again and have already begun planning the next conquest."
Addicts often dehumanize sex. This trait keeps them from forming actual relationships. Sex becomes merely an act, something to pass the time and fill the empty space temporarily. There is little or no sense of sex as a "natural function." Sex is objectified and becomes a basis for self-worth. There is no such thing as intimacy. (Goldstein, 1994, p. 200) Communication is also a problem for the sex addict. Although they may be charming and lively, it is usually a mask for the fact that they keep relationships on a very superficial level. Once again, this is often caused by poor modeling in the home, never learning to develop meaningful, intimate connections with other human beings. (Janus, 1993, pp. 67-68)
Freuds's Theory of Psychosexual Development
According to Sigmund Freud, what we do and why we do it, who we are and how we became this way are all related to our sexual drive, no matter what biological or psychological point in what direction. Differences in personalities originate in differences in childhood sexual experiences. In the Freudian psychoanalytical model, child personality development is discussed in terms of "psychosexual stages." In his "Three Essays on Sexuality" (1915), Freud outlined five stages of manifestations of the sexual drive: Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital. (Earle, 1995, pp. 46-99) at each stage, different areas of the child's body become the focus of his pleasure and the dominant source of sexual arousal. Differences in satisfying the sexual urges at each stage will inevitably lead to differences in adult personalities. Conflicts between the sex drive and rules of society are present at every stage. A proper resolution of the conflicts will lead the child to progress past one stage and move on to the next. Failure to achieve a proper resolution, however, will make the child fixated in the present stage. The latter is believed to be the cause of many personality and behavioral disorders.
According to Freud, people enter the world as unbridled pleasure seekers. "Specifically, people seek pleasure through from a series of erogenous zones." (Love, 1995, p. 177) These erogenous zones are only part of the story, as the social relations learned when focused on each of the zones is also important, as we discussed earlier -- children also learn from the relationships of their parents. Freud's theory of development has 2 primary ideas: One, everything you become is determined by your first few years - indeed, the adult is exclusively determined by the child's experiences, because whatever actions occur in adulthood are based on a blueprint laid down in the earliest years of life. Two, the story of development is the story of how to handle anti-social inpulses in socially acceptable ways. (Gold, 1998, pp. 367-381)
Libido was Freud's word for psychic and sexual energy. How libido is expressed depends on the stage of development. But in each stage of development there are frustrations. If those frustrations are not successfully dealt with, then the libido will be tied to that stage of development more than it should. There is only so much libido for each person, and to develop successfully a person cannot use too much of their libido in one stage, because then there will less for the others. According to Groneman, (2000), such overuses will be reflected in later behavior in one of two ways.
Fixation may occur, which would mean that there are lingering desires for pleasure from the source experienced at that stage.
Reaction Formation may occur, which would be taking the lingering desire for pleasure from some source and acting in the opposite way.
Stages of Development
Freud proposed that there were 5 stages of development. Freud believed that few people successfully complete all 5 of the stages. Instead, he felt that most people tied up their libido at one of the stages, which prevented them from using that energy at a later stage.
Oral Stage. This occurs from birth to about 1-year, and the libido is focused on the mouth. The individual may be frustrated by having to wait on another person, being dependent on another person. Being fixated at this stage may mean an excessive use of oral stimulation, such as cigarettes, drinking or eating.
Anal Stage. This period occurs about age 2 and 3 yrs. Here individuals have their first encounter with rules and regulations, as they have to learn to be toilet trained. This encounter with rules and regulations will dictate the later behavior with rules and regulations. The libido is focused anally, and frustration may arise from having to learn a somewhat complex cognitive and motor response. Being fixated at this stage can result in stinginess, stubbornness, or orderliness, as well as messiness. Essentially, behavior related to retention and expulsion may be related to experiences at this stage.
Phallic Stage. This period starts about age 4-5 years. Some critical episodes for development occur during this stage, but these episodes occur differently for boys and girls. (Azhar, 1999, p. 263-265)
Oedipus conflict - the boy begins to have sexual desires for his mother, and sees his father as a rival for her affections. The boy begins to fear that his father is suspicious of his longing for his mother, and that the father will punish him for his desires. That punishment, the boy fears, will be castration, which brings us to the second critical episode for this stage.
Castration anxiety. The fear of castration make the boy anxious. This anxiety begun with the fear of punishment from the father leads to the boy thinking that the father hates him eventually becomes unbearable and the boy renounces his sexual feelings for his mother and chooses instead to identify with his father, and hopes to someday have a relationship with a woman (though not his mother) just like dear old dad has with his mother.
The story for girls is slightly different. The oral and anal stages are the same for both girls and boys, so the focus of affection and attention is on the mother for both. But this focus changes, for girls, from the mother to the father, when the girls realize that they don't have penises, so they develop penis envy. This realization coupled with the knowledge that her mother doesn't have a penis leads to her thinking her mother unworthy, and becoming attracted to her father, as he does have a penis. (Kasl, 1989, pp. 11-56)
Just as with boys, girls begin to suspect the same sex parent knows about their attraction to the opposite sex parent, and they hate them for it. These feelings go round and round for awhile until the point when the girls renounce their feelings for their fathers and identify with their mothers. (Azhar, 1999, p. 263-265)
Latency Stage. This period occurs after the oedipus conflict has been resolved and the feelings that were…