Mr. Analysand

A roving street reporter uncovers all things psychoanalytical.

Life After Analysis: Two Years and Counting

A reader has 8 questions about the post-therapy experience: I have 8 answers. Read More

Frank, revealing, and helpful

That's just a great summary of your experiences. It sounds like analysis is not for everyone, but for the people it is right for, it is a wonderful thing.

I was struck by the sex addiction piece of what you wrote, because you never mentioned it before, no? Do you go to 12-step meetings for it, the way many addictionologists claim is mandatory for conquering addiction? Did it wither away as your analysis went on? Was it the degree of addiction where you would have not turned down sex from any available partner were it offered? That, to me, is true addiction, like a cocaine addict unable to pass up the free line. Or was the addiction something else?

From a different angle, maybe you couldn't get to the roots of whatever was going on because it wasn't psychological, but sociological. Tons of American soldiers got addicted to heroin when they were in Vietnam. Many studies have shown that the vast majority of them kicked the habit on return to the USA, with no formal 12-step, therapy, or anything. They just stopped.

re: Frank, revealing, and helpful

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for reading, and the kind words about the post. I appreciate it! I'd agree with your synopsis there, yes.

Re your question, I want to note that the phrase "sex addiction" was not an actual diagnosis that ever came up. Ms. Analyst was loath to put a label on anything. It’s a phrase I came to use to explain what I thought was going on, based on some ways I saw addiction.

It was not about frequency or a non-discriminate attitude about who the sexual act was with, at all. And since that’s the stereotype I had about sex addiction from the media (like that scene in “Blades of Glory”) – that a sex addiction means an uncontrollable urge to do it with anyone, anytime – I didn’t really recognize my major issues as such.

For me, my concept of addiction was based on strong impulses connected to a particular expression of the sexual experience. Through analysis, I realized that my attachment to these impulses were part of a coping mechanism – a way to manage not just stress and low points, but even success.

People have all sorts of addictive ways they cope that way, using alcohol, drugs, video games, work, food – you name it. All in varying degrees, perhaps meeting a technical definition or several shades away.

I didn't consider joining a group because I was in analysis already three times a week. That was more than my schedule could stand at it was! But it never even occurred to me.

It’s possible that the root cause was more sociological than psychological, as you say. That’s something interesting to think about! Maybe we can come to view it as fine blend? The example from American soldiers in Vietnam is food for thought.

Thanks for the note!

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