Dr. Douglas Weiss, Executive Director at the Heart to Heart Counseling Center and published author, has spent over 20 years in the realm of sex addiction and intimacy disorders. He quickly came to recognize that not all sex addicted individuals benefitted from the same treatment, seeing as not all sex addicted individuals were alike. In his book The Final Freedom, Dr. Weiss focuses on six predominant types of sex addict, while offering an intelligent explanation of sex addiction and providing several proven methods of healing. The six types of sex addict that Dr. Weiss expounds upon are also detailed in the training offered by the AASAT (American Association for Sex Addiction Therapists). In this article, we will focus on and further explore these six types – in attempts to break stigmas surrounding sex addiction, and clarify the very real devastation that this disorder causes in the lives of the afflicted.
6 Types of Sex Addict
- The Psychological Sex Addict
Most individuals who suffer from sex addiction later on in life are shown to have experienced some form of abuse throughout childhood – typically emotional abuse or neglect. The Psychological Sex Addict will typically employ a combination of fantasy and sexual release to self-medicate the unresolved pain of past harms. Dr. Weiss notes that in his own personal experience, somewhere upwards of 80 percent of patients have abandonment, abuse, or neglect issues in their personal histories. In order for the sex addict to truly heal, these past issues will need to be thoroughly and adequately addressed.
- The Biological Sex Addict
Like all other addicts, sex addicts almost always have some degree of biological component play into the development of their disorder – however, being a solely biological sex addict (meaning that the other five types do not apply), is extremely rare. Only about 15 percent of sex addicted men and women are purely biological. This means that the addict grew up in a healthy and nurturing home environment, and experienced no trauma or abuse at any point in his or her life. The afflicted was simply genetically predisposed to develop such traits, and created the neuro-conditioning cycle over time, leading them, ultimately, to sexual addiction.
- The Spirituality Based Sex Addict
In recovery, we often talk about the “God-shaped hole in the soul”. This specific type of sex addict will incessantly search for a spiritual connection in all the wrong places. He or she will confuse sex with spirituality, and attempt to satiate a nonphysical and innate desire with a physical act. However, many individuals who undergo spiritual awakenings and begin to develop a relationship with a higher power will still find themselves unable to pursue sex in a healthy manner. For this reason, it is important that those suffering from sex addiction still partake in the healing work, even if their spiritual problem seems to have been resolved.
- The Trauma Based Sex Addict
This specific type of sex addict experienced sexual trauma as a child or adolescent. In most cases, the trauma will become a major repetitive behavior in the sex addiction itself. The addict will utilize his or her particular traumatic experience as the subject of his or her predominant fantasy, reenactment, or porn selection. For example, if a young man was sexually abused by a woman who was significantly older than he was at the time, he might seek out sexual affairs with older women later on in life. For the Trauma Based Sex Addict, the early traumatic experience paves the way for unhealthy, sex-related behaviors. In order for the afflicted to truly recovery, intensive trauma work will likely need to be employed.
- The Sex Addict with Mood Disorders
Some sex addicts experience chemical imbalances in adolescence, childhood, or young adulthood, and discover sexual release as a way to temporarily self-medicate this imbalance. Repeated use of this sexual response may, over time, escalate into a sexual addiction. It was recently discovered that 28 percent of male sex addicts living in the United States concurrently suffer from diagnosable depression. Another common mood disorder that is commonly found in sex addicted males is Cyclothymic Disorder. This disorder is characterized by a slight up and down pattern in mood, usually shifting from day-to-day or week-to-week. In the case of mood disorders, it is crucial that the assistance of a licensed psychiatrist is sought, in addition to standard therapeutic approaches to healing.
- The Sexual Anorexic
It has been estimated that nearly 30 percent of sex addicted men and women fall into the category of sexual and intimacy anorexia. Below is a list of the criteria for sexual anorexia – if you find that five or more of the criteria apply to you, you may be suffering from a restrictive intimacy disorder.
- You withhold love
- You withhold praise or open appreciation of others
- You find yourself unable to express your feelings
- Your criticism often causes isolation
- You attempt to control through silence and anger
- You attempt to control and shame with money issues
- You blame your partner for everything
- You withhold sex
- You withhold a spiritual connection
- You attempt to stay busy in order to avoid time spent with your partner
Many sex addicts who have been free of sexually addictive behaviors for a prolonged period of time and find that they still suffer from severe interpersonal issues may be afflicted with undiagnosed sexual anorexia.
Of course, most sex addicted individuals are afflicted with more than one type of sexual addiction. Once you know what type of sex addict you are, seeking more comprehensive and individualized treatment will be possible. Recovery is always possible, though it is crucial for all co-occurring disorders to be addressed in order for long-term recovery to be maintained. At Next Chapter, we specialize in treating all types of sexual addiction in men – along with a wide variety of co-occurring disorders, such as unresolved trauma, substance dependency, and mental illness. To learn more about sex addiction or our program of recovery, please feel free to contact us today.