Living the Truth

Ablow book coverKeith Ablow has written a great book about our tendency to minimize, deny, or otherwise try to hide from the pain of our past. It’s a great book for people in recovery, because it encourages people to face the reality of their pain, and therefore to heal from it. Many people get stuck in their recovery, continuing patterns of relapse, because they haven’t dealt with the soul wounds that drive their addiction. In early life, they turned to sex or chemicals or food to help them cope with their pain … and in adulthood, when those old wounds get triggered, they reach for the old solutions.

The book is so good that I’m going to include some quotes here. He opens the book with the following:

“The origins of delf-deception run deep inside us. Continue reading Living the Truth

Interview: How much sex is too much?

George Collins is a counselor in the San Francisco Bay area who has been in practice since 1995, working with sex addicts. Here are some excerpts from an interview with him, published in The Metro (a Bay area newspaper). I’m including this because I think he’s got some good things to say, and anyone with his experience is worth listening to. Enjoy:

Loren Stein (interviewer): How does someone know if they have a sexual addiction? Or in other words, how much sex is too much sex?

Continue reading Interview: How much sex is too much?

How to spot the difference between a healthy sex drive and dependence / addiction

How can you tell if someone has a problem with sexual behavior? Sometimes peoples’ defense is simply that “I just have a strong sex drive.” Where is the line between a healthy sex drive, and addictive behavior? What follows is a list of criteria from Dr. Pat Carnes’ web site “,” with some edits and clarifiers from me.

While an actual diagnosis for sexual addiction should be carried out by a mental health professional, the following behavior patterns can indicate the presence of sexual addiction. Individuals who see any of these patterns in their own life, or in the life of someone they care about, should seek professional help.

1. The person exhibits a pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior

Continue reading How to spot the difference between a healthy sex drive and dependence / addiction

Addiction and recovery over time

People respond to an addictive substance or behavior because it improves their sense of well-being for a short time. But over time the addiction helps less and less on each occasion of acting out, and one’s overall sense of well-being deteriorates. The forecast for well-being for an addict is always bad. Eventually the peak of a person’s “high” is a worse state of being than when they started the addiction, and the high only staves off the negative effects of withdrawal. David C. Bissette has created the following charts, that illustrate the sense of well-being on the divergent paths of progressive addiction and recovery. Check out this chart: Continue reading Addiction and recovery over time

The Differences Between Coaching and Therapy

I just got an email from someone thinking about working with me as a coach, wanting to know more about the differences between coaching and therapy. Whenever I’m asked about this, I try to keep my answer short and focused on recovery. Here’s what I say: “Therapy focuses on how past trauma impacts your present actions, and helps you work through unhealed soul wounds. Coaching focuses more on helping you move into action, getting clear about your goals and removing obstacles to reaching them.”

Continue reading The Differences Between Coaching and Therapy

Disclosure of extra-marital sexual activity to spouses

The topic that generates the most discussion – and anxiety – in our workshops is that of disclosure. Sex addicts who are in relationships need to come clean with their partners, but they are afraid that doing so will cost them the relationship. Knowing this, many addicts disclose the truth of their activities to their partners in stages. We call this “the installment plan” of disclosure, and it’s an exceedingly bad idea. Many wives I talk to are frustrated and confused because their husbands had used the “installment plan,” and they worry that they still don’t have the full story. “I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop,” they say. “I always wonder if there’s something more that he’s been holding back from me.”

Continue reading Disclosure of extra-marital sexual activity to spouses

Isn’t it ironic: more porn equals less sex

MAPA LogoYears ago – before porn had become so common – its opponents warned that if we didn’t limit pornography, men would start objectifying all women like they do porn stars, and treat them accordingly. Rape and all kinds of “sexual mayhem” would result. Naomi Wolf has a great article on the Mothers Against Pornography website where she reflects on this. It’s certainly true that pornography has become ubiquitous, and is changing how people experience sex. But Wolf makes the point that it is actually lowering libido – in relation to real people – rather than raising it. Listen to her own words, which I quote at length from the article:

“But the effect (of pornography) is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as “porn-worthy.” Continue reading Isn’t it ironic: more porn equals less sex

finding intimacy and freedom from pornography and sex addiction