Sam Louie
Source: Sam Louie

The Asian Christian sex addict is someone who must be addressed therapeutically on three distinct yet interconnected levels.  Pervasive to all three components are deeply embedded feelings of shame (cultural, religious, and sexual shame).  

After my recent teaching to a group of mainland Chinese Christians studying in Switzerland, I saw this first-hand.  The Asian component is one that dates back centuries with the dynamic of shame and honor significantly impacting an individual more than someone from a Western or European background.  One Chinese phrase that epitomized this deep level of shame is, "So ashamed even eight generations can feel it."  It was heart-wrenching to hear this and many of the European students couldn't believe it when they heard it as their level of shame rarely permeated beyond their current generation.

This shouldn't be so surprising since the veneration of ancestors and other folk superstitions among Asians highlight the significance of honoring your ancestors in everything that you say or do.  Getting help in itself is going against cultural norms.  While applauded in the West, it can feel like a disgraceful and dishonoring act as many Asian cultures see it as disrespectful.

With religious shame, Asian Christian circles can have their cultural values of honor and shame superimposed over Christian values.  This means cultural baggage can interfere with a healthy sense of Christian values like redemption, forgiveness, and God's unconditional love.  A simpler way to put it is that Asians dealing with cultural shame will have a hard time of understanding and accepting God's love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Finally, when you compound the first two layers of Christianity and Asian culture with sex addiction, those suffering may feel an even more pronounced sense of inadequacy.  Traditional addiction is still shame-provoking let alone if it's with someone's compulsive sexual behaviors.  For the Asian Christian sex addict, this can be the perfect storm of feeling misunderstood, ostracized, and condemned by both the Asian and Christian communities (with the two communities often overlapping).

In my work with this population, healing comes from being in the presence of others who can relate either culturally or spiritually.  Nothing is more affirming than finding another person who has or is walking down a similar path as you.

This is why group therapy, while significantly more shame-inducing than individual therapy, is still the therapy of choice for most of my addiction clients.  It can take time to get someone from this background to be in a group but if it can be done, the therapeutic improvements are exponential both from my view and from clients' direct experiences. 

But therapy is still just a starting point as a longer term approach is to find healing, understanding, and validation of their experiences back in their Asian Christian circles.  

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