Roleplay Guide 020: Sex Addict (Character Guide)A look at hypersexual disorder. I will hopefully dismantle a few misconceptions about this disorder that will provide an educated resource to have should you find your character developing this disorder, or for creating a character that already has this. This guide will also take a look at possible reasons a character may experience this, and how they might get treated for it. (Includes helpful links)
DEFINITION & DIFFERENT TYPES
Hypersexual Disorder, most commonly known as “sex addiction”, is characterized mainly by the negative effects it has on a person’s life in general. While this disorder is not necessarily a mental disorder, the negative effects it has on a person day-to-day are similar enough to problems other addicts have that do seem to stem from underlying mental disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.) . It makes problems for their relationships with family and friends, occupation, and sometimes their very life (through STD’s primarily) — which is what the key difference is between a healthy sexual appetite, and a hypersexual disorder.
For sexual addicts, the goal is sexual stimulation. They crave it just like an alcoholic craves alcohol or a drug abuser craves their next high. Because the craving is so powerful, they will go to great lengths to satisfy it — often with no regard for the consequences.
This addiction can manifest in a variety of ways rather than the “traditional” sense of sexual activity. Some of these sexual activities are not necessarily considered part of an addiction when they are done within a healthy moderation. They may occur within the context of a normal sexual relationship.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
People often mistakenly think that an abnormally high sex drive, or an obsession with sexual activities, constitutes as a hypersexual disorder. However, it is much more complicated than that. Sex addiction starts mild, and gradually works up into a full blown issue — much like that with any other addict. It typically leads to other types of sexual activity that may be very risky, or blatantly dangerous.
For the addict, sexual activity provides an intense euphoric feeling while lacking any genuine emotional connection, intimacy, or love. It’s a temporary escape. Once the high wears off, the vicious cycle starts all over again. For the addict, the activity is not fulfilling. It has a significant negative impact on their life and often causes a lot of shame and self-loathing.
The indicators for this disorders will vary to some degree depending on the individual. For example, some sex addicts have multiple “extramarital affairs”, while others can find other ways to excessively get what they’re after.
- Excessive and/or frequent masturbation.
- Excessive and/or frequent use of phone sex services, viewing pornography, sex without protection, engaging in paraphilias, one-night stands with strangers or prostitutes.
- An inability to stop, despite consequences.
- Obsessing about a sexual partner who they cannot have.
- Engaging in sexual behavior that directly conflicts with their personal values or religious beliefs.
- Staying emotionally detached from [sexual] partners.
- Spending a significant amount of time planning their sexual activity.
- Obsessing about sex to the point that it interferes with their life.
CAUSES & RISKS
It is not yet understood why only certain people develop an addiction to sex. Most people enjoy sex for both the physical release and the emotional intimacy it provides. For the sex addict, however, the experience is often quite different. Although sex addicts crave sex for the pleasure it provides them, they also use it for other similar reasons. For them sex has little to do with intimacy. Rather, it’s an escape from painful or unpleasant emotions and a reaction to stress — in other words, it’s a means of self-medicating. It is said that many addicts suffer from an underlying mental problem, so using their choice drug as an escape helps to subside those negative feels.
Sex addicts are consumed with the desire to get their next fix, despite any short term or long term consequences. The vicious cycle of indulging in the activity, feeling guilt and remorse, trying to change, and then giving in to the craving all over again is just the same as with any other type of addiction.
- Biochemical imbalances.
- Medical conditions.
- Changes in neutral pathways in the brain.
- Abuse during childhood.
- Family dysfunction.
- Creating an addiction to something else; substance abuse.
- A co-occurring psychiatric disorder; depression, bipolar, a personality disorder, or difficulties with impulse control.
- A background with sexual or physical abuse.
- Death and/or illness.
Treatment may include a combination of psychotherapy (including group and family therapy), medication, and support groups. Residential treatment programs, which provide intensive treatment in a structured setting, are available and can be very beneficial. Since shame is a huge factor, particularly with sex addicts, many never seek treatment. Many sex addicts end up receiving court mandated treatment after being convicted of a sex crime.
Treatment effectiveness depends on a variety of factors.
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