Friday, 29 January 2010
Why do I care? Well alcoholics would tend to find public support and understanding for their condition, and I believe this helps their recovery. However, I believe sex addicts would be more likely to experience scorn, and therefore less likely to seek help, condemning themselves and their relatives to a great deal of misery. I think the coverage of stars like Tiger Woods and the subsequent public response affects this greatly.
So can sex really be an addiction? There are various types of addictions, but certain drugs or activities stimulate the production of dopamine in the brain, these include cocaine, amphetamines, certain foods and sex. Dopamine is central to the reward part of the brain, so if we repeat these activities we feel good. Over time a person can become addicted to the drug and if it is withdrawn then the addict becomes anxious, and then starts to experience the withdrawal symptoms. It doesn't matter whether the high levels of dopamine have been produced by the use of external drugs like cocaine or by activities like excessive compulsive masturbation during the day.
Do I think Tiger Woods is a sex addict? I have no idea, but sex addicts normally have three aspects to the addiction, use of pornography, compulsive masturbation and a fetish or sexual fantasy, the extra marital affairs would fit into the third aspect, but we don't know about the first two aspects. Interestingly, addicts are often enneagram type 7s, who are adventurous, thrill seeking types but if they become stressed can be prone to addictions. Tiger Woods is thought to be a enneagram type 3, a type who are self assured, competitive, image conscious. An unhealthy type 3 would tend towards narcissism, and 'somatic' narcissists tend to have a series of sexual conquests and brag about their prowess.
I personally doubt whether Tiger Woods is a sex addict, but I care about how we speak of sex addiction in our society. I hope that those men and women who need help and feel desperately isolated will find it. There is more information here and here.