In sexual healing and recovery, creating safety, healing trauma, establishing trust, repairing relationships, and creating healthy connections are essential. Sexual recovery is a process of evolving the meaning of sexuality. The goal is the integration of sex and love, body and mind. The pathway to integration is through intimacy rather than intensity.
Compulsive sexual behaviors and problematic pornography use – Although there is no single behavior pattern that defines compulsive sexuality or sex addiction, the common themes are problems with intimacy. In addition, there may be a relationship/attachment disorder or a history of trauma or abuse. Possible indicators involved with offline/online sex and love addiction include: loss of control, compulsive behavior, efforts to stop, loss of time; preoccupation, inability to fulfill obligations, continuation despite negative consequences, escalation, losses, withdrawal.
People with attachment and intimacy disorders may experience a disconnection between love and sex. Because there is a disconnect, the risk is that sex is not used in the service of love, but rather in the service of medicating. People who have a compulsive relationship with sexuality use sexual behavior to produce a charge of gratification and to escape internal discomfort. Some people might not be available for connected sex because the always accessible fantasy images of pornography, hooking up with others, or the escape in romantic stories feel “safer” than being in an intimate relationship. Opening one’s heart and being vulnerable to sexually connect authentically with another requires tremendous courage, safety, and trust.
Possible indicators involved with offline/online compulsive sexual behaviors:
- Loss of control
- Compulsive behavior
- Efforts to stop
- Loss of time
- Inability to fulfill obligations
- Continuation despite negative consequences
PATHOS Questionnaire Items by Patrick Carnes, PhD
1. Do you often find yourself preoccupied with sexual thoughts? [Preoccupied]
2. Do you hide some of your sexual behavior from others? [Ashamed]
3. Have you ever sought help for sexual behavior you did not like? [Treatment]
4. Has anyone been hurt emotionally because of your sexual behavior? [Hurt others]
5. Do you feel controlled by your sexual desire? [Out of control]
6. When you have sex, do you feel depressed afterwards? [Sad]
A positive response to just one would indicate a need for additional assessment- seek consultation with a CSAT. Two or more indicates sexual addiction.