Cycle of Sexual Addiction

Sexual Addiction Counseling Group Denver

Cycle Of Sex Addiction: Belief Systems

The cycle of sex addiction is rooted in a larger addictive system which starts with a belief system.  The belief system is a collection of convictions, myths, and values that affect the decisions we make.  

In Dr. Patrick Carnes’ book, “Out of the Shadows,” Dr. Carnes identifies the four core beliefs or negative tapes (self-talk) that sex addicts have for themselves, others, and the world.  According to Dr. Carnes, the sex addict often doesn’t consciously recognize these beliefs but will benefit in become more aware of how those underlying core beliefs operate on a daily basis as unchangeable truths.

Four Core Beliefs Of Sex Addicts

These four core beliefs are:

“I am not good enough or worthy of love, acceptance, or value.” (Toxic Shame)

“If you knew the real me, you would reject me and not love me.” (Fear of Rejection and Abandonment)

“No one will take care of my needs but me.” (No trust in others)

“Sex meets my needs.  It is my strongest need.” (Sex replaces the risk of real relationship intimacy)

Negative Mental Tapes

There is an internal logic that flows like this:

“Because I am not good enough, no one would love me if they really knew what I was like on the inside.  Consequently, my needs are never going to be met if I have reveal the truth about who I really am.  Given that sex is my most important need, I will never be able to depend on another person who really knows me to get it.”

Delusional Thinking Of Sex Addicts

Out of this situation flow all kinds of delusional thinking which allows the addictive cycle to flourish.  It essentially distorts reality or even blocks the awareness of what is going on around the addict.  The addictive cycle becomes the driving force in the addict’s life.  Bad things and consequences begin to happen (this is often called “unmanageability”).

Lies, covering up, and trying to control the addiction are part of the delusion.    Sooner or later, the Addict’s life becomes a mess.  Addicts find themselves despairing about how complex, stressful, or awful their lives have become.  The feelings of despair confirm their dysfunctional beliefs about being an unlovable person.  Thus the system only strengthens and repeats and repeats.

Fear Of Relationship Attachments

This is why the real issue is not sex but a fear of relationship or attachment.  The fear goes back to childhood and derives from some form of abandonment (i.e., divorced parents), rejection (abuse, never affirmed or accepted the way he/she was, bullied, inadequacy, etc.), and eventually the defense system kicks in to protect the sex addict from further pain, harm, rejection, or abandonment  through defensive detachment.  “I don’t need anyone to meet my needs (too risky).  I will turn to detached sex to replace my need for intimacy (attachment).”

Porn, fantasy, prostitutes, affairs, and other types of sexual addicting out behaviors guarantee that the sex addict won’t be rejected, abandoned, or hurt.  Yet the brain of the sex addict will always need more, better, different (just like an alcoholic or drug addict will need more, better, different). The addiction promises what it can never deliver…  The sex addict needs to be loved, accepted, safe attachment, and especially non-judgement listening.

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