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From Sex Addiction to Sexual Potential

Over the years, the people I have worked with have used various words to describe the end result of their compulsive sexual behaviors: words like shame, anger, depression, anxiety, disappointment, self-hatred, hopelessness and helplessness, usually describe their subjective experience after the orgasm is over.
Never have I worked with a person who described their sexually addictive experiences with words like, fulfillment, satisfaction, closeness, or ecstasy.
Yet these are the kinds of states that optimal related sex offers. Exciting, healthy, hot sex, comes from being relational, that is, connecting deeply with both yourself and your partner. We are sexual beings from the day we’re born until the day we die. Sex is fundamental to our lives and seems to be the area of life that most deeply touches our most personal issues. Our sexuality is a core expression of who we are. We can hide with sex, we can hide from sex, but when we are fully ourselves sexually, we no longer have to hide.
For the sex addict, physical pleasure is fleeting and is only a numbing source for the excruciating emotional pain that triggered the sexual act. It’s a fallacy for anyone to think that sex addicts gain fulfillment from the sex act.
However, sexual desire and pleasure is our birthright. After all, we were created naked and with complementary genitals. There must have been a plan in mind.
“We can hide with sex,
we can hide from sex,
but when we are
fully ourselves sexually, we no longer have to hide.”
Good sex is a complex concoction of openness and secrecy, balance, risk and control, and personal satisfaction. These ingredients foster mutual fulfillment. Good sex –the quality kind that exists between healthy, consenting partners – requires an ability to be totally immersed in the moment (which is difficult for most people), ever-present to the sensuality of yourself, your partner, and attentive to life. Exciting, hot sex comes from being relational, that is, connecting deeply with both yourself and your partner.
Can a sex addict return to the natural expression of sex and receive its benefits?
After you achieve a period of abstinence from self-destructive sexuality, you’re able to focus on personal growth and intimate sexual relating. (Katehakis, pg. 67)
A program of comprehensive sex addiction therapy is a gradual process of moving from the addiction “arousal template” in the brain, to a different (healthier and ultimately more satisfying) template. It’s a process of redefining sex, and changing the addictive imprint born from faulty understandings about sexuality and intimacy.
Exciting, intimate, tender, ecstatic, hot sex is attainable if you’re willing to change your focus from non-related, self-centered sex to the joy of knowing yourself and your partner in sexual ecstasy.
Chart Your Course and Choose the Path
In order to arrive at a destination, you have to have a map of the territory and a view of what the destination holds for you. There are two paths from which to choose with one path heading towards a healthy life, and the other towards self destruction. Knowing the differences between compulsive sex and wholesome, related sex serves as the compass for the journey.
The Gratification Difference
Addictive sex is based on immediate gratification and surrender to acting on impulses. Mature sex is a choice; one that entails focusing on the entirety of the experience, not just the immediate gratification of orgasm.
The discussion in this book so far has focused primarily on the different ways to cease and desist sexual behaviors that you know are eroding your self-esteem and your relationship. In AA terms, this involves “putting the plug in the jug” of destructive behavior so that the business of recovery can begin. Learning to choose how to stop the destructive behaviors and to make a conscious choice about how to channel your sexual energies is “clearing the runway” for optimal sex to develop.
The Urgency Difference
Addictive sex is compulsive sex, while sexual celebration emerges from conscious deliberate choice. The compulsion of addictive sex, must be detangled, understood and put to rest. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud coined the term “repetition compulsion” and it is referred to by therapists when they talk about an addict doing the “trauma” work. You keep doing “it” (the sex act) over and over again until you get it right. But you never do – get it right – because “it” happened in times past and the behavior is no longer appropriate for your adult self. Having a sexual compulsion is like dying from thirst, but always going to an empty well to quench it.
Compulsion is a mental pressure of internal origin compelling you to think, act, or react in accordance with specific urges and energies that do no coincide with your habitual patterns of thought. For a person with a sexual compulsion, there is a “must have” quality to a particular sexual experience, regardless of a partner’s wants and needs. A compulsion is an irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation. There is a sense of being driven; it is obligatory — somehow destined to occur despite your better judgment. Compulsion’s home base is the unconscious mind where hurts and traumas of past experiences reside outside of conscious awareness.
“Sexual compulsion” is an attempt to “undo” the traumatic experiences of the past. You were powerless to effect change as a child because you didn’t have the resources to take care of yourself. As an adult, through a repetition compulsion, you can achieve a sense of mastery over the sense of helplessness you experienced as a child. But this is faulty thinking.
A case in point:
A new client came for a consultation recently. His distress was centered around compulsive enactments of themes of sexual dominance and submission where the female is fearful and vulnerable and he assumes the power in the play. While he didn’t report any family-of-origin traumas, he reported that he’d always had “a touch” of autism as a child. He felt disconnected to his peers and especially shut out from the mystifying world of girls.
When he understands that his sexual fantasies and enactments were devised for him to take an active role in contrast to his passive experiences of being socially unwanted; when he recognizes that his sexual desires were based on a need to feel in control in contrast to his childhood feelings of powerlessness; when he discovers and acknowledges his own sense of self-esteem and appropriate self mastery, my hope is that he will be relieved of the compulsion and be free to explore equality in his relationships with women.
In another case:
A former client had witnessed the protracted suffering and death by cancer of his beloved mother when he was six years old. His father was not able to give him the space to grieve the death, telling him he needed him to be the “little man” in the family. Years later, with unresolved grief as a catalyst, he became a compulsive cross-dresser and ruined his marriage. If he hadn’t been able to keep mother alive back when, he would keep her alive through becoming her in his cross-dressing erotic haze. Only when he was able to “do the grief work in therapy” was he able to lose interest in wearing women’s clothing.
Healthy sex enhances your self-esteem and allows you to enjoy and control your sexual energies without guilt, fear or shame.
Shame strikes deepest into the human psyche; it is a sickness within the self, a disease of the spirit. It is the feeling of indignity, of defeat, of transgression, of inferiority and of alienation. Shame is experienced as an inner torment. It is a wound made from the inside, dividing us both from ourselves and from one another. Shame violates our essential dignity as human beings.
The person feeling shame thinks, “Whether all eyes are upon me or only my own, I feel deficient in some vital way as a human being.” The disturbance within the self produced shame, impacts not only self-esteem, but also the development of identity and the pursuit of intimacy. When shame captures the addictive personality, it grows like a cancerous growth. Shame precedes and enables sexual addiction. It follows sexual acting out. Addicts often suffer another bout of sexual acting out to alleviate the shame of acting out! Until treatment, it is a vicious, never-ending cycle.
Children can experience shame beginning from a very early age. Dysfunctional (non-nurturing) families that are emotionally, sexually or physically abusive serve as the spark that heats hot-beds of shame for their off springs. Neglect that is physically or emotionally depriving also contributes to the formation of a shame-bound personality in a child. The family isn’t the only source of shame; problems with peer relationships at school can also be very traumatizing.
When an afflicted child reaches adulthood, he is haunted by shame. Combine this with the cultural messages about the “sinfulness” of sex and that a large part of the population feels shameful about sexual needs. Indeed, many of the dynamics of sex addiction are about managing sexual shame. Intense sexual arousal obviates sexual shame and allows for sexual activity. Sexual addiction makes sex so desirable it overrides shame.
Shame is an integral part of your “Addictive Prison”. In the first place, shame-bound people do shameful sexual behaviors. So shame precedes the acting out. There is one particular feature of every addiction which is central to understanding the addictive process: a profound, discouraging sense of powerlessness over the addiction. The tail increasingly comes to way to dog, engendering shame about the addiction itself. We feel humiliated whenever we feel controlled by anything, but especially in the sexual experience because of the shameful connotations communicated by family, church and culture that sex is “bad”, “sinful”, “shameful”. Each time there is failure to break the addiction and regain power over it, the sex addict feels defeated. He grows to hate himself, disgusted by the helplessness, the lack of resolve, the lack of inner strength.
Getting treatment for shame is an essential part of recovery from addiction.
Those who have a healthy sex life do not need substitutions or escape mechanisms in their relationships. In contrast, the sex addict requires it.
The addiction serves as a substitute for shame-bound interpersonal needs. For example, the alcoholic who has a relationship with his bottle has substituted something http://www.simcitybuilditcheatshack.com/ else for a human relationship. All compulsive sexual acts are substitutes for human needs about which you feel shame.
The addiction also functions as an escape from intense shame. Feelings of shame encountered anew in daily life, may serve as triggers to re-experience shaming experiences from early life. These often trigger an episode of sexually acting out, as a way to soothe the pain of shame. However, each new addictive episode also reproduces shame, which then activates the entire cycle, all over again.
The Truth Difference
In contrast to shame-based sex addiction, celebratory sex is open, not hidden. It involves honest communication between lovers, not lies and duplicity. Healthy sex exalts the individual and the couple. Sex addiction destroys both.
Right now, you maybe you have the experience of having two selves: the private self and the public self; the solid family man and the sexual deviant; the social self and the self that may spend six hours a day in isolation looking at pornography. I call it “The Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde” syndrome.
Your “Secret World” is separate from your public self. The overwhelming need of your secret self is to protect it and hide it from other parts of your life. If addictive sex requires a double life, healthy sex enhances and celebrates who you really are, increases self esteem, and is empowering.
“Lying and Duplicity” are necessary to keep your “Secret World”, Secret!
Pivotal to all addictions is the defense mechanism of denial. It’s been said that DENIAL means “Don’t Even Know I’m Lying”. So you lie to yourself. You lie to yourself about how out-of-control you are, that you have a serious problem that requires professional treatment, that you’re not hurting your spouse and children, that you’ve been isolated from friends and have stopped hobbies and activities that you used to enjoy.
Shame is again the culprit. You feel that if you told the truth about your sexual experiences, you’d be shamed, humiliated, rejected and abandoned.
Part of clearing the path to healthy sexuality means telling the truth about yourself – in a 12-step program, to a trusted therapist or a close friend. Eventually you’ll need to have an open, honest dialogue with your partner about your addiction.
“It is impossible to have an intimate, connected relationship with another person if you carry a back-pack of secrets and lies.”
The Maturity Difference
Optimal sex requires a degree of psychological maturity. Perfect fulfillment of sexual potential is never achieved. It is a lifelong pursuit of personal development. It involves the conquest of self-centeredness, the transcendence of personal limitations, and the dauntless struggle to be fully human and fully sexual with a cherished other. The depth of connection in related sex far surpasses the fleeting physical pleasure of a sexually addictive behavior. Erotic, mature, intense sex makes sex addiction look like child’s play because it requires maturity and mutual caring for another that only an adult can bring into play.
Sex addiction is immature and narcissistic (self-centered). Like an infant, you require immediate gratification and cannot put off gratification in the service of a long-term goal. You may have problems in self-regulation. You cannot regulate your feelings internally. You need a sexual activity to help you feel good. Also like infants and children, you don’t have the ability to control your impulses. Impulse control is a mark of a healthy personality which can reflect on impulses and urges, think them through, and make decisions to let them pass.
With healthy sex, you have awareness and empathy for your partner’s experiences. True eroticism arises from the particular energy created by two people who care for and respect each other. Most therapists in the sex therapy field focus on being able to sexually function. But “optimal” sex includes consideration of eroticism, intimacy and personal meaning in sexual behavior. The human capacity for intimacy and attachment gives profound emotional meaning to sexual experience. With these factors in place, human beings are capable of profound sexual experiences.
The Scattered Mind vs. Moment-to-Moment
Awareness Difference
Sustaining a healthy, balanced sex life requires mindful attention to your senses, to the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions of yourself, as well as your partner. In profound intimate sex, nothing exists beyond the immediate presence of the two partners. Awareness of the room, or even the bed, may cease to exist as you are embraced by the sensual, erotic sense of the NOW.
The mind is scattered when involved with addictive sex; thoughts run the gamut of thoughts about past sexual splendor with no recall of the negative consequences (euphoric recall) to thoughts about future sexual exploits (fantasy). However, sumptuous sex with a cherished other requires the ability to maintain awareness of moment-to-moment sensation. Depth of involvement in a sexual trance increases as day-to-day reality fades, replaced by increasing concentration on the sexual reality of the moment.
At profound depths of involvement in the sensual/physical/sexual moment, the individual becomes totally absorbed in the sexual reality and loses awareness of extraneous events. There can be an ecstatic sense of preoccupation and transformation in which self and other become one.
According to the wise words of Sophocles, “KNOW THYSELF” in order to know what you want and need sexually. Then you need to have the courage and self-assurance to communicate these desires to your partner, even in the face of possible rejection. You are ready for intimacy and related sex only after you have achieved a core sense of identity.
The outstanding quality of intimacy is the sense of being in touch with your real self. When “the other” also knows and is able to express his real self, intimacy happens. Intimacy can be defined as a close, trusting relationship between two people who are both willing to be emotionally open and honest with each other in spite of the risks that may be involved. Intimacy is also the joy of being known and accepted by another who is loved. The quest for intimacy is one of the oldest themes in Western civilization. However, although most people chase after intense sex and intimacy, few seem truly willing and able to find it.
Through the experience of intimacy, you may experience yourself in some new, different, and more profound way. When I am close, I know you in your presence; when I am intimate I know myself in your presence. Intimacy is a remarkable experience. To feel and know myself in the presence of another is enlivening, enlightening, joyful and freeing. I can be who I am freely and fully in the presence of another. It is the only true freedom we have as human beings.
Sexuality is both an expression of that intimacy and a bond that enhances intimacy. With this kind of personal/sexual intimacy, your growth experience as humans is energized, enhanced, and fueled. Intimacy is the most meaningful and courageous of human experiences. Through its experience, it is possible for you to “grow yourself up.
Your personal well being and your ability to be intimate with another cannot survive your dislike or disrespect of yourself. If you dislike yourself, you’ll never be comfortable with your sexuality. If you hold a lot of self-judgment about your past sexual behaviors, identify yourself as a whole, valuable person who has an addictive behavior. Remember – who you are essentially is separate from your behaviors.
Sex addicts escape into the “erotic haze” which involves dissociation from true feelings; healthy sex opens a person up to tremendous depth of feelings. In the addictive sexual state sexual experience is an avoidance of connection with your partner and your own feelings in the present. Addictive sex is devoid of love; in sexual recovery, sex is an expression of love. In intimate sex, you no longer hide out through fantasizing about others or dissociating. You are fully present with yourself and your partner, preparing for your journey into the erotic.
Good communication is crucial to healthy sex. You can greatly increase feelings of mutual respect, emotional closeness and sexual pleasure when you and your partner know how to communicate well with each other. Knowing how to talk openly and comfortably about sexual wants and desires can help you address issues that come up from time to time in the normal course of an on-going intimate/sexual relationship.
The “Inner Validating” vs. “External Validating Difference
Addictive sexuality involves the search for “reflected validation”; that is, “if she/he desires me, I feel validated.” Healthy sex requires self-validation. You know you are sexy and desirable because your sexuality is a God-given part of who you are. You have no need to validate your sexuality through getting or not getting any particular response from your partner or through a fantasy connection on the computer.
Self-validation produces an enhanced sense of self. Being “other-validated” you put your value as a person in the hands of other people. You sculpt your behavior and attitudes on the basis of not being rejected or judged by others. If you have a reflected sense of self, you see the result of your actions as though through another’s eyes.
You can never have an authentic sense of self if you are “other-validated”.
The fear of being separated, rejected, abandoned or judged makes you concerned with the response of the “other” or “others”, and so keeps you from being your real self and ultimately prevents you from loving, since loving involves disclosing your true and authentic self to another.
An Expanded Vision of Sexual Fulfillment
What prevents people from experiencing the upper limits of human sexual potential?
Adherence to rigid gender-role stereotypes where sexual behaviors are dictated by cultural gender norms.
Viewing the goal of sexuality as intense orgasms. For some, the number of orgasms rather than their quality is the key to sexual fulfillment. It is a mis-perception that orgasm and repetitive copulation capacity is the sole determinate of sexual satisfaction.
While orgasms are undeniably erotic, orgasms and eroticism are quite different things. The fulfillment of sexual potential involves experiencing the upper limits of physical sensation together with the capacity for intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual connectivity. Intense sexuality occurs within a context of profound emotion and meaning.
The focus on intercourse in “normal” sexuality keeps dysfunctional gender-roles in place. In this culturally embedded view of sexuality, the man must PERFORM and the woman must be desirable. The focus on male sexual potency creates the most common problem in sexual relating: PERFORMANCE ANXIETY.
In addition to his concern about the size and function of his penis, the male may have shame about his anxiety! Now, how sexy is that? The man thinks he shouldn’t be anxious and feels shameful. The result is that he becomes more emotionally isolated from his partner and more turned off. Sex becomes something that isolates the lovers rather than bringing them closer together.
Sexual intensity is more a function of emotional maturation than of physiological responsiveness.
The sex addict’s pursuit of intense orgasms per se, often interferes with repeated attainment of transcendent eroticism and intimacy. As you know, orgasm can (and often does) occur without profound personal meaning. The capacity for intimacy and intense, hot sex is a function of personal development, rather than on physiological functioning.
Seeking personal validation through sexual performance,
It is essential that you detach your self-esteem from your sexual “capacities,” and gender-role behavior. Adequacy and eroticism should be detached from sexual functioning. There are handicapped people who transcend their disability and maintain eroticism and self-esteem intact, even though they violate normal social expectations. Self-worth derived from sexual performance perpetuates the continual need to perform with its attendant anxieties.
Lack of partner engagement.
Self-centered, compulsive sexuality, in recovery, will give way to a caring attachment to a partner. The partner is seen as the individual person she is, rather than solely as a sex object. Sex addicts sometimes have deficits in empathic listening and relating skills and may need to learn them to have more satisfying relationships.
In the intimate and sexual bond, you appreciate your partner’s core potentialities, strengths and assets; as you disclose your wants and needs, you also are accepting of the partner’s self; loving synergy is involved in partner engagement.
Misconceptions about the function of intimacy. I’ve worked with people who say they want a healthy relationship. What, in fact, they are doing is desperately seeking someone to reassure them that they are worth loving. The quest for intimacy is not about the trials of knowing yourself and letting yourself be known; it’s about the quest for a “reflected” or “other-validated” sense of self. These kill shot bravo cheats tool people have ego deficits in validating and soothing themselves. Some people think they seek intimacy when what they are doing is looking for someone to help carry the burden of a dissatisfying relationship with themselves.
When intimacy and sex are pursued to validate your self-image and self-worth, you will never be able to really see and acknowledge someone else. Moreover, you will never know your true, authentic self. The ability to self-disclose and self-validate in the absence of validation from others is a disquieting and challenging task, but it can be done. People involved in these types of “validate me!” relationships become over-sensitive, reactive, combative, and controlling. This is not the stuff that hot, loving sex is made of.
Does Sex Take Work?
For some people, climbing a mountain is unthinkable work; for others it is a vacation. The sex addiction fantasy is that sexual gratification involves no effort at all. It’s like wanting to have the benefits of running a marathon without ever actually running. Good sex requires effort – but its effort that can result in self-transcendence and self-and-other celebration. The romantic view of sex suggests that if you love your partner (enough), and if your partner loves you (enough), desire and performance naturally follow. Working at desiring sex is a bit tricky. Pushing yourself to desire when one is not desirous is self-defeating. But working at the things that might effectively increase desire for sex often requires advanced preparation.
This might include scheduling an “intimacy time” with your partner; sending the kids to grandma’s for a few hours; disclosing your sexual dissatisfactions, demonstrating what you really want, and struggling through one’s possible anxiety and embarrassment, It might involve losing (or gaining) 30 pounds. It might involve keeping one’s integrity intact. Discarding the societal pathological beliefs about sex and developing your own definition of good sex takes work. Intense, erotic sex with a partner takes effort. However, effort in related, intense sex doesn’t feel like work; in mediocre sex it does. Intense sex and profound intimacy take more effort than most people want to invest. It takes a lot of personal development and work to mature enough to tolerate intense intimacy and eroticism.
Sexuality that is like “kissing the face of God”
In health-based models of sexual potential, the upper limit of sexual desire is where one meets the God-within.
For Plato, Eros has a transcendent manifestation when the subject seeks to go beyond itself and form a communion with the other.
Eastern philosophy, particularly the Hindu tradition, sees physical sensual pleasure as one of several paths to liberation and the union of the individual with the universal. Sexual relations are considered a path to integration and expanded cosmic awareness. Eastern views celebrate sexual pleasure as a value in its own right. Kama, “the pursuit of love and pleasure, both sensual aesthetic”, is one of the goals of life in the Hindu tradition.
Eastern approaches to eroticism based on Tantric Yoga emphasize self-discipline in focusing consciousness and sexual energy. Sexual potential is thought to require practice, discipline, and understanding the interaction among spiritual, emotional, and physical dimensions. This approach emphasizes spiritual and emotional transcendence through sex rather than orgasm.
In marked contrast, Christian-dominated Western society promotes a division between spirit and body and is associated with original sin. In Western Christian mythology, sex is a barrier to be overcome. Humans are urged to achieve salvation by denial of the senses, especially the sexual impulses. Western culture and religion has failed to help people to integrate sexuality and spirituality. Contemporary Western values inhibit the exploration of human sexuality, rather than support it.
The role of sexuality in one’s spiritual development is evident when spirituality is conceptualized as the integration of all aspects of the person and the actualization of one’s fullest potential. Spiritual development divorced from religion and dogma is human development viewed from the perspective of an ongoing integration that results from openness to the experience of http://www.wwesupercardhackcheat.com/ self-transcendence.
From hot, erotic, related sex, you can begin to be open to spiritual energies you’ve never experienced before because of the strong connection you’ve made both with your authentic self and with your partner. Slowly your judgments strip away, together with your clothing, your pride and your fears. The lovers’ experience coalesces into a swirling energy that rises and bursts out of your head. When the boundaries of self and other are transcended in this swirl, it is possible to achieve an experience of your incontrovertible connection to the universe.
Sexual potential comes from surrendering – that is, not trying. With a willingness to give up control along with your egotistic preoccupations, you’re in a state of not knowing, of just experiencing as you make a space for deep eroticism to emerge. The illusion of who you think you are, the mask of the false and social self, the need to perform or look good, together with your ego, gradually drop. Peak experiences of self-transcendence may occur. Shame is banished, replaced with deep serenity and contentment. Your thoughts and your bodily tensions relax and slow down. Time stops. Consciousness expands. The experience is similar to what the mystics describe as ecstasy.
Two dissolve into one and a third energy, perhaps a spiritual energy, emerges. You meld into one entity and touch the silence of the universe. (Katehakis, pg. 205).
Nothing beats it.

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