Hypersexuality or sexual addiction refers to the dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual desire, usually in combination with search for non-intimate or casual sex; objectified partner sex, pornography and compulsive masturbation for a period of not less than six months (Lowinson, 2005). This obsessive adult blueprint of behaviors and thoughts continues notwithstanding efforts to self-correct challenging sexual conducts (Hess, 2011). Sexual addiction causes negative life upshots, physical and emotional health problems, relationships instability, or legal or career problems. Sexual addiction is viewed as a process of addiction to sex. As a result, sexual addicts spend a lot of their time involved in the search for romance and sex as opposed to the sexual act. Such people are fanatical to the dissociative high and nuerochemicals produced through their powerful sexual ritualistic conduct and sexual fantasy life. Sexual addictions entail an adaptive effort to control mood and address stressors via the exploitation of powerfully stimulating sexual behavior and fantasy (Lowinson, 2005).
Sexual addiction is viewed as a dysfunctional adult reaction to instinctive character, personality or emotional regulatory shortfall, and response to untimely attachment disorders, trauma and abuse (Lowinson, 2005). There commonly known causes of sexual addiction include drug abuse, sexual abuse, health issues and exposure to pornographic materials. Symptoms include frequent engagement in sex and with numerous partners, preoccupation with sex, consuming a lot of time in sex related activities and irritable feelings when one is incapable of engaging in sex. Sexual addiction can be controlled through numerous treatment programs (Coombs, 2004). These concepts are highlighted in the below interview.
The interview involves an adult woman, 31 years old who began engaging in sexual activities as a teenager, 13 years old, as a way of running away from the neglect feelings and problems of her broken family. The woman has been an addict to sex for almost fifteen years. The following is her perspective on the problem of sex compulsion and recovery.
Interviewer: Kindly describe your sexual addiction problem. How would you explain it?
Interviewee: My sexual addiction problem began early in my childhood years and I would masturbate due to disturbing sexual desires. As a result, in explaining my sex addiction, I would articulate that the problem started when I was still young and facing difficult family problems when my parents divorced. I would masturbate to release tension, stress and bad treatment that I received from my parents. However, I at present am able to shun sex addiction conduct easily although I really struggled to attain assistance. I am ok now and I can confirm that I have managed to deal with this shameful problem. I am presently sober for a few years. My sex addiction problem started in childhood through masturbation, and as a teenager, I started getting involved with men to satisfy my intense sex inclinations.
Interviewer: When did you realize that you have a problem?
Interviewee: To define sexuality addiction and to realize that you have a problem is difficult. However, to declare that sex addiction does not exist is not correct. Similar to alcohol and drug addiction, I believe sexual addiction is a public health issue and a social problem. I realized that I had a problem of sexuality addiction when I started to become obsessed with certain sexual behaviors such having numerous sexual partners, engagement in extreme masturbation; ten to twenty times in a day. I also realized that I had a problem when I noted that I excessively used pornographic materials besides engaging in all forms sexual conduct, and particularly unacceptable sexual conducts such as sadistic sex. No matter how hard I tried to put an end to my sexual behavior, I was unable. I would engage in desperate relationships, and still cheat on these men besides masturbating even when I am in a relationship. This went on from my teenager years through my early thirties.
Well, when I realized I had a problem, I tried to stop but I would find myself in the same situation until when I made a decision to seek for treatment through therapy. I engaged in therapy because I was not happy with my life. My therapist informed me that my desperation during my early childhood, neglect and effects of divorce could have been the possible reasons behind my problem. In fact, a person who engages in a lot of sex, hold a feeling of well-being after sexual activity. Engagement in sexual activities would help me forget my familiar problems, and I would get anxious when I could not get the sexual feeling. I would pursue sex in a desperate, out-of-control manner and I continued doing it regardless of the negative upshots. Such as sexually transmitted diseases, negative public image and poor interpersonal relationships.
Interviewer: When did you feel that you needed help, and when did you realize that you had no control over your problem?
Interviewee: Accepting that I needed help to handle my problem, and that I had no control over the body was a great challenge. This is because matters related to sex are things that people do not like telling anyone about; sex life is a secret affair. Many sex addicts feel ashamed to let anyone understand their sexual activities. However, I gathered courage and talked to one of my friend and a close relative about my problem after they began to realize that something was wrong with me. My unhappiness, my irritations and stress were things that I could not hide from a close friend and a close relative. They advised me to seek Sex Addicts Anonymous therapy. I remember well that, at some point, I became angry with them and I rejected their offer. I told them that I did not need the therapy and instead asked them whether they would only help me through exposure to the public. However, they engaged me to a counselor and after several counseling sessions, I made a choice to join a rehabilitation center for further therapy. Opening up helped me recognize that I needed the therapy and a recovery program. Moreover, a desire to change my life and improve my image and character contributed to my decision.
Interviewer: What aspects formed part of your recovery process?
While counseling was still helpful to me, I realized that the recovery process would help me deal with the problem finally. I learnt that therapy and recovery are important in dealing with sexuality compulsion. Recovery from sexual addiction is a developmental procedure that can be comprehended to proceed in four different stages, which include:
I. Initial behavior modulation
III. Character healing
Personality, character, affect and behavior are connected dimensions of a person, and they are involved at all points in the process of development. Significant recovery from sex addiction requires considerable time given that addiction affects normal development and crumbles interpersonal links, and many of these problems remain even after addictive behavior has stopped. In this regard, my recovery process entailed a motivation for change, creativity, self-observatory ability, supportive social network, and a stable job. With respect to self-observity capacity, my recovery procedure entailed no masturbation and no engagement into sexual activity with men until I was sure of what is needed in life. This is because I frequently used masturbation and sexual multiple partners to satisfy my sexual desires. I also used them to prevent me from being committed to healthy and serious relationships. My recovery process progressed well after discovering certain things that were influencing me not to progress. Being in a stable job made me to concentrate on my work and turn away from sexual inclinations. Besides, my drive to change to a better and respectable person in the society helped me control and recover from my sexual addiction problem.