Psychological Self-Help

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pictures of nudes may well be an addiction. Is the average young male
who masturbates 3 or 4 times a week addicted? Probably not; if he
had an alternative, the masturbation would stop. If a loving couple has
good sex twice a day, morning and night, is that an addiction?
Probably not, but if that is their only way of being reassured that they
are sexy and/or loved and then one decides he/she doesn't want it so
often but the other can't stop, then he or she is addicted . If someone
masturbates twice a day, is that an addiction? Maybe not, but if that is
their only way of imagining or gaining intimacy with another human
being, then they might be considered addicted. Addiction is not just a
matter of frequency or amount. My 300 pound football-playing
grandson eats a lot but is he addicted to food? No. Addiction, in
addition to frequency or amount, is an inability to stop a behavior
even though it is doing harm--physical risk or harm to your body, legal
difficulties, or emotional harm to the addict, to others, or to his/her
relationships with others. The behavior is so needed the addict can't
Carnes (1983, 1992), a major writer in this area, classifies
different levels of sexual addiction. His level 1 includes excessive
masturbation, repeated affairs destroying loving relationships, unusual
demands for intercourse, nymphomania, promiscuity, obsession with
pornography, frequent use of prostitutes, strong homosexual interests,
etc. His level 2 might involve exhibitionism, voyeurism, stalking to
seek a relationship, indecent phone calls, etc. His level 3 is incest,
child sexual abuse, date rape, stalking to harm, rape, violent control,
etc. These levels make it clear that a wide variety of behaviors are
considered sexual addictions. The harm done to others is obvious.
After getting caught, the addict's self-respect plummets, 75% have
thought of suicide. Surely there are a myriad of causes behind these
diverse behaviors. 
The books by Carnes provide numerous descriptions of sex
addiction cases and some discussion of the common background
shared by many addicts. For instance, he found that 81% of sex
addicts were themselves abused in some way. Many come from
unemotional, morally rigid and authoritarian families. 83% have
additional addictions--alcohol, food, gambling, antisocial behavior--
and, in general, poor mental health and limited impulse control. He
reports that many addicts have unusually negative self-concepts (and
so do many of their mates): "I am bad," "No one could love me," and
so on. Unfortunately, Carnes's recommendations about addiction
treatment reflect primarily the usual medical/psychiatric endorsement
of 12-Step programs. Unquestionably, being in a good 12-Step group
is a good aid to self-control. But many addicts won't go and won't stay
in groups. They also need therapy or training that enables them to
have insight, cognitive self-awareness, new skills, and better
Bond test, and a book for escaping the bonds that sometimes bind a
significant other tightly to an addict or to an abuser/betrayer. Carnes
also edits Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of
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