Over the past 20 years, addiction to sex has been emerging as a mental health disorder that is being taken more and more seriously.
While it has not been a research priority and the scientific literature is still developing, counsellors such Owen Redahan, who runs a practice in London’s Canary Wharf, are seeing an increase in people seeking help for sex addiction. These are people, just like you or I, who have unfortunately developed uncontrollable sexual behaviours that are ruining their lives.
We asked Owen, who is the Vice Chairman of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (ATSAC), to give us some insights into this misunderstood condition:
- It’s not just an excuse or a boast about irresponsible sexual activity; it is an increasingly common condition that is devastating lives just like substance addictions do!
- It’s not just about men; therapists report that there are increasing numbers of women seeking help for sex addiction.
- It’s not about having a high sex drive. People with low sex drives get addicted to sex too.
- It’s not just about watching too much Internet porn, it includes any kind of uncontrollable sexual activities such as compulsively engaging in prostitution, social media driven hook-ups, exhibitionism, masturbation, voyeurism, serial affairs and repetitively frequenting sex environments such as strip clubs and sex shops.
- In order to survive, we are rewarded with the release of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ hormone, when we eat, when we drink and when we procreate. At the root of addiction to sex, is an addiction to a chemical made in our own bodies!
- While sex addiction starts off as a desire to feel good, it quickly turns, and sex addicts are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, shame, anger, fear and anxiety.
- Like those addicted to substances, sex addicts are looking for an escape from core feelings. Those may be feelings of low self-worth, depression, anxiety, abandonment, lack of attachment, anger, even, boredom.
- While easy access to porn and sexual experience through the Internet and social media don’t ‘cause’ sex addiction, experts believe they do enable people to become more easily addicted to sex, especially the younger generations.
“What’s important to know is that healing is possible,” says Owen “By lifting the veil on this devastating condition, sex addicts can put themselves back in control and move on to enjoy fulfilling sexual relationships that provide the healthy attachment that we all need for our well-being.”
This Psychology Talks is hosted by SACAP as part of their continued efforts to train an inspired workforce of counselors to service those people who fall by the wayside of accessible mental health services. The talk starts at 12:30pm (SACAP campus in Claremont, Cape Town) and runs for an hour. Entrance is for free, but booking is essential.
If you obtain satisfaction and a sense of purpose from helping people deal with their addictions, a career in counselling may be for you. The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a wide range of counselling courses, from a Higher Certificate and a Diploma in Counselling to a full-blown Bachelor of Psychology Degree. Graduates who have studied counselling at SACAP can build meaningful careers in any area where counselling and communication skills are valued. For more information, enquire now.