Oftentimes, addictive sexual behavior is used to control or relieve other feelings, such as anxiety and depression. The sexual behavior becomes the band-aid that temporarily sooths emotional pain. Rather than sex being a healthy way to relieve stress, it becomes an overwhelming urge to medicate the stress and social isolation that comes with the loss of happiness, anxiety, depression and other mental and emotional pain. Thoughts of sex interfere with the normal activities of daily living. Certain types of mental disorders can cause a person to be hypersexual. Many men and women suffering from sex addictions were abused sexually as children.
The term "sexual addiction" is used to describe the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict's thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.
Sex addicts engage in distorted thinking, often rationalizing and justifying their behavior and blaming others for problems. They generally deny they have a problem and make excuses for their actions.
Sexual addiction also is associated with risk-taking. A person with a sex addiction engages in various forms of sexual activity, despite the potential for negative and/or dangerous consequences. In addition to damaging the addict's relationships and interfering with his or her work and social life, a sexual addiction also puts the person at risk for emotional and physical injury.
For some people, the sex addiction progresses to involve illegal activities, such as exhibitionism (exposing oneself in public), making obscene phone calls, or molestation. However, it should be noted that sex addicts do not necessarily become sex offenders.
Generally, a person with a sex addiction gains little satisfaction from the sexual activity and forms no emotional bond with his or her sex partners. In addition, the problem of sex addiction often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. A sex addict also feels a lack of control over the behavior, despite negative consequences (financial, health, social, and emotional).
The negative effects of a sexual addiction are circular. The person suffering from a sex addiction is caught in a vicious cycle of low self-image and destructive behavior. The low self-esteem drives the addiction, and the addiction drives the low sense of self. The hypersexual activity offers instant gratification, but that reward is minimal when compared to the psychological pain that is suffered on a day to day basis. All too often, sex addicts engage in risky sexual behavior. They put themselves and others at risk for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.
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