Sexual Addiction

Restoring the Wisdom of the Nervous System: Reducing the Vulnerability to Relapse from Sexual Addiction

Out of control sexual behavior creates an imbalanced nervous system. The anticipation and hunt for sex leaves you dysregulated, as you remain lost in the attempt to numb your pain and escape your feelings. Dysregulation describes the disruption of the nervous system: up-regulation refers to internal states such as panic or rage, and down-regulation refers to disconnection or shutting down.

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Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder

A few months ago, the World Health Organization recognized and included “compulsive sexual behavior disorder” in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). This is the first time that anything close to “sex addiction” has been validated as a diagnostic code. For many years there has been an effort by sex addiction therapists to include “sexual addiction” as a classification/diagnosis, but to no avail. Sexual addiction was coined by Patrick Carnes in the 1980s, but it’s always been a controversial term accepted by some clinicians and rejected by others.

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The positive psychology of sex addiction

Traditionally, twelve-step programs describe addiction with borrowed language from the medical model such as disease, illness, and even the word addiction itself. Yet, there’s less shameful and stigmatizing ways to talk about it.

In 1998, Dr. Marty Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania coined the term Positive Psychology, and a like-minded, international community of researchers came out of the woodwork. Not only did they open the door to expanded research in this brand-new field, but they also paved the way toward its application toward addictive and compulsive behaviors.

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