For sexual addicts an addictive experience progresses through a four-step cycle that intensifies with each repetition:
- Preoccupation—the trance or mood wherein the addicts’ minds are completely engrossed with thoughts of Sex. This mental state creates an obsessive search for sexual stimulation.
- Ritualization—the addicts’ own special routines that lead up to the sexual behavior. The ritual intensifies the preoccupation, adding arousal and excitement.
- Compulsive sexual Behavior—the actual sexual act, which is the end goal of the preoccupation and ritualization. Sexual addicts are unable to control or stop this behavior.
- Despair—the feeling of utter hopelessness addicts have about their behavior and their powerlessness.
The pain the addicts feel at the end of the cycle can be number or obscured by sexual preoccupation that reengages the addiction cycle.
Sexual addicts are hostages of their own Preoccupation.
Every passerby, every relationship, and every introduction to someone passes through the sexually obsessive filter. More than merely noticing sexually attractive people, there is a quality of desperation that interferes with work, relaxation, and even sleep. People become objects to be scrutinized. A walk through a crowded downtown area is translated into a veritable shopping list of “possibilities.”
To understand the trancelike state of preoccupation, imagine the intense passion of courtship. We laugh at two lovers who are so absorbed in one another that they forget about their surroundings. The intoxication of young love is what the addict attempts to capture. It is the pursuit, the hunt, the search, the suspense heightened by the unusual, the stolen, the forbidden, the illicit that are intoxicating to the sexual addict. The new conquest of the hustler; the score of the exposer, voyeur, or rapist; or the temptation of breaking the taboo of sex with one’s child—in essence, they are variations of a theme: courtship gone awry. Nowhere is this more visible than in the search for sex on the internet. Hours pass while you’re gazing at pornographic images on the computer screen or sending instant messages. There is total preoccupation. You might find yourself not sleeping because you’re tranced in cyberspace. You might not be working during the day because you’re too exhausted and you feel compelled to go online for sex despite promising yourself you wouldn’t. Progressively, your relationship suffer. Kids are neglected. Spouses are ignored. Phone calls remain unreturned. Isolation become real.
The despair that the addict experiences after being compulsively sexual is the “low” phase of the four-step cycle. The letdown combines the sense of failure at not having lived up to resolutions to stop with hopelessness about ever being able to stop. If the behavior was particularly degrading, humiliating, or risky, the addict’s self-pity grows. If the behavior violated basic personal values or exploited them, the addict experiences self-hatred as well. Addicts often report suicidal feelings longs with their despair and shame.
Standing in the wings, however, is the ever-ready preoccupation that can pull the addict out of the doldrums. The cycle then becomes self-perpetuating. Each repetition builds upon the previous experiences and solidifies the repetition builds upon the previous experiences and solidifies the reiterative pattern of the addiction. As the cycle fastens its grip on the addicts, the addict’s life starts to disintegrate and become unmanageable.
This Article is taken from Out of the Shadows
Written by Arshad. A