Electronic Exhibitionism Exposed.

The internet has been a wonderful addition to our culture in both defining and steering how we interact with one another. During the past 10 years we have seen a marked increase in “social” sites such as facebook, myspace, twitter, blogs, youtube, and the like. These avenues of societal engagement have now become a norm for our culture. We post our lunch plans, bad dates, rants, raves, and other personal information for anyone to see. This has broken down many psychological and emotional barriers  for those who use these sites. These barriers are broken down and replaced with the virtual barrier the internet easily provides. Subconsciously, we might say to ourselves, “I am far removed from rejection, reprisal, and criticism.” Interestingly, the possibility of rejection and criticism are still there but are experienced at a more distant and manageable location for most.

So what does all this mean for the sexaholic, sex addict, or hypersexual individual? We could show how the internet has provided an easy means for many to stumble in every area of sex addiction but for the sake of clarity, we will stick to the topic exhibitionism.

Let’s begin by defining exhibitionism in concordance with the text revision of the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (American Psychiatric Association [DSM-IV-TR], 2000).

Exhibitionism is broken into two criteria:

A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges,or behaviors involving the exposure of one’s genitals to an unsuspecting stranger.

B. The person has acted on these sexual urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.

Within this diagnostic criteria, I can hear the questions begin to arise. How does this relate to the internet? How does it interact with social media? These questions are valid within the tradition use of the aforementioned social media sites, however, there are websites that appear to be just as benign but provide a relatively safe venue for the exhibitionist. If you have continued to read this post thus far, you may already be aware of these websites. Omegel, chatroulette, and hey-people are just a fraction of the websites that strangers can video chat with other strangers and as one of the name suggests, you get who you get, there is no choice. These are the websites that provide a safe haven for the exhibitionist. Before the advent of the internet, exhibitionists were forced to show themselves in public to unsuspecting strangers and in doing so risked being arrested. Now, one can expose himself at home alone on a webcam for anyone who happens to connect to his cam. The risk of legal action has now been removed because of the virtual barrier I mentioned. What is even more startling is the fact that many of the participants in the video cam sites are underage. Now we have added a new dimension to the sexually compulsive disorder of exhibitionism. Empirical data suggests that the traditional exhibitionist can be divided by the audience he seeks to expose himself to. Specifically, adults or children. Unfortunately these data are restricted to traditional public exposure cases and do not include any internet interaction.

This should be alarming to many, even to those who engage in this behavior because it is crossing and compounding lines of diagnoses. The exhibitionists who once discriminated in the selection of his audience, now, with little exception, exposes himself to male and female regardless of age. This virtual barrier is opening up levels of excitement that where restricted before thereby creating more complex issues for the hypersexual individual. This type of exhibitionism is not only revealing levels of compulsive behavior but gender identity issues as well. If this is true, the levels of guilt associated with this particular sex act and the resulting shame may be worse for these individuals. A study conducted by Langstrom and Seto (2006) suggests that:

“exhibitionism was positively associated with being male and having more psychological problems, lower satisfaction with life, greater alcohol and drug use, and greater sexual interest and activity ingeneral, including more sexual partners, greater sexual arousability,higher frequency of masturbation and pornography use, and greater likelihood of having had a same-sex sexual partner. Consistent with previous research from clinical samples of men with paraphilias, participants who reported any lifetime exhibitionistic behavior had substantially greater odds of reporting other atypical sexual behavior, voyeuristic, sadomasochistic, or cross-dressing behavior.”

What does all this mean for the the individual who finds him or herself sitting in front of webcam for hours every night?

This article makes no attempt to establish any psychological diagnosis, but rather to bring to light yet another issue that the sex addict may need to face and deal with. This article uncovers just a fraction of the psychological implications that this emerging method of exhibitionism may have tied to it and how these internet sites are enabling the addict to act out his/her fantasies.

This is what I say, “If you find that this may be you then seek help and do so before you ruin your life or damage the life of another.”

As always I can be reached at wesley.chapel.sa@gmail.com or visit our website at www.wesleychapelsa.com

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (Revised 4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Langstrom, N., & Seto, M. C. (2006). Exhibitionistic and voyeuristic behavior in a Swedish national population survey. Archives of     SexualBehavior, 35, 427–435.

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The High Price of Sexual Addiction

Loss

A High Price to Pay

“I have lost everything that means anything to me!” I remember saying this when I realized I had a real problem with sexual addiction and lust. I had a beautiful family and wonderful wife, we were best friends. The trouble with being a sex addict is that, by the time we realize there is a problem we have already hit rock bottom; for many of us that means the loss of important and priceless relationships. I say to myself sometimes that if I only knew 10 years ago what I know now, everything would be different. The trouble is, I didn’t know, and now I face the sad fact that I have lost the love of my life.

This is one of the main purposes of these blogs; to create awareness of a problem that is ruining lives everyday. With this awareness I wish that others may find the strength to make the changes in their life before they hit rock bottom and learn the hard way. Trust me when I say, “The hard way is painful!” If you already know that you face the problem of hypersexuality, then carefully read these posts because they contain insight from someone who has learned the hard way and desperately wants others to deal with their sexual addictions before it’s too late.

As with any addiction, there is a high price to be paid. Loss of spouse, children, career, friends, and so on. We have to ask ourselves, is our ignorance or pride more important than the losses we face? How much do we value what we stand to lose? If we hold these in high regard, then we must do everything we can to protect them. Addiction to porn and sex is not something to be taken lightly or to shrug off as a minor issue. When we view these addictions as minor issues we, in fact, protect the addiction more than the people we will hurt and damage.

Think about that last statement for second. For years I knew that I had a real problem with pornography but I chose to protect it instead of expose it. For years, I knew that hiring prostitutes was wrong and I had a problem, but I protected that as well. Looking back, I cannot believe that I was protecting a damaging addiction at the expense of my relationship with my wife. Instead of protecting that priceless relationship, I chose to devastate it. Sounds negligent and irresponsible doesn’t it? My only desire with these post is to attempt to prevent that from happening to you.

Ask yourself, “What is truly important to me?” and then I suggest you take an honest inventory of yourself to see if you may have a problem with sex addiction. This inventory can be found at: https://sexualaddicton.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/do-you-have-a-problem-with-sexual-addiction/

As always, you can reach me at wesley.chapel.sa@gmail.com or visit our website at www.wesleychapelsa.com


What if I Stumble?

 

Sexual Addiction Relapse

Sexual Addiction Relapse

 

 

This is the humbling reality of sexual addiction. This is the reality of all addictions. What do I do if I stumble and relapse or, for the sex addict, return to using the natural purpose of sex for unnatural purposes. For us, who truly desire to be free from the power of lust and stop our destructive sexual behavior, relapse is humiliating reality. Unfortunately, it is a possibility that each one of use who walk the long road to recovery must face. How do we face this reality and if we do stumble, how do we get back on track?  The following will be broken down into two topics, prevention and restoration. How do we realistically prevent a “relapse” and if we do stumble, how do we restore ourselves back on to the road to recovery.

You hear me mention the term “progressive” as it relates to recovery in most of my posts and there is a reason for that. Recovery from sexual addiction is a process which takes a lifetime of commitment to a program of some sort. Recovery, within the context of an addiction, does not hold the same meaning as recovery from the flu or a cold. Unfortunately, recovery is not something that takes a week or two and then we are better. Recovery, for us, will be something that we must maintain focus on for the rest of our lives. Ideally, taking proactive steps to keep ourselves from stumbling will ensure that we will not “relapse” to our old way of thinking and lifestyle. I will address three areas of prevention before moving on to restoration.

PREVENTION

  1. Chronological Focus: In lay terms, breaking recovery down into 24 periods of time. This topic has been discussed in the previous post, https://sexualaddicton.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/living-in-the-future-failing-in-the-present/ and still holds value in the area of prevention. If we begin each day as a new day of recovery, we begin with a proper perspective of recovery. Reminding ourselves at the start of each day that we can stay sober for at least 24 hours.
  2. Self Focus: This focus is not selfish in nature, however, it is the continual reminder that in and of ourselves, we are powerless over our addictions and lusts. With each temptation we realize this powerlessness when we try to resist it with our own strength. This is where the term Higher Power comes in. For me, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is my Higher Power because the Bible says that cursed is the man that makes his flesh his strength, as well as, stating that I can do “all” things through Christ who strengthens me. This validates the principle of powerlessness. As a sex addict, I am powerless over my addiction but through my Higher Power, Jesus Christ, I have the strength to stay free of lust and sexual addictions if I stay in a state of surrender to Him. This leads us to the third area of prevention. Surrender and Cry.
  3. Surrender and Cry: This concept is one of the most difficult one to embrace and apply in the life of a sex addict because it involves releasing the reigns of power and crying out to our Higher Power, as well as, crying out to our sponsor during times of temptation. Again, I make no apology for expressing that my Higher Power is Jesus, the Son of God and I believe that only through faith in Him there is hope for me. However, I do not wish to discourage anyone who desires freedom from this addiction by presenting this information in a dogmatic and biased manner. So to help us from stumbling, we must surrender ourselves to a power greater than ourselves and cry out to this Higher Power for the grace, mercy, and strength to endure any temptation we encounter. In conjunction with the cry to our Higher Power, we must cry out to our sponsor. This is why finding a group is essential to recovery because it is through them we find those who are willing to listen to our “cries” for help at anytime we need and bring us back to reality.

    RESTORATION

    Restoration is defined as a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition. This is what we must do if we ever find ourselves facing the guilt and shame of a relapse. Recall how guilt and shame play key roles in sexual addiction in the post, https://sexualaddicton.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/what-roles-do-shame-and-guilt-play-in-sexual-addiction/
    with this in mind it is imperative for us to return to our former state of progressive recovery as soon as we stumble. If we do not return to this unimpaired condition immediately following the relapse into our former lifestyle, we run the dangerous and statistically proven risk of falling back into the sexual addiction cycle. It is in this cycle that we lose sight of our hope of recovery. So how do we restore ourselves once we realize we relapsed? Again, I will break it into three areas of focus:
    First we must quickly admit our wrong, first to our Higher Power and then to our sponsor. We must do this in order to get it out of the shadows because if it remains hidden from view, we hold on to all the negative emotion that is attached to the relapse. We admit it in full detail so that we release the power it has over us. The act must be brought into light so that we can examine how and why we screwed up so that we learn from our mistake and continue down the road to progressive recovery.
    Next we must ask for forgiveness from our Higher Power. This is merely a continuation of the previous step because it involves admission of guilt which in turn lessens the likelihood of the negative self-evaluative emotion of shame. It is also during this step that we must forgive ourselves, realizing that we are not perfect and that we are indeed powerless over our addiction. This renewed understanding leads us into the last step that I will address; going back to the basics of our recovery.
    Now that we are humbled and broken from our temporary fall from recovery, we must go back to the basics. We must start from the realization that we are indeed powerless because we just screwed up. We must surrender ourselves to our Higher Power because we are unable to stay sexually sober on our own. Finally we must again realize that recovery is a daily process and understands that a relapse yesterday should not affect our recovery today. Sounds a lot like the proactive steps of prevention doesn’t it?
    I know this post is not exhaustive in nature but is merely an attempt to bring hope and recovery closer to home for those who need help.
    As always you can email me at wesley.chapel.sa@gmail.com.

What Roles Do Shame and Guilt Play in Sexual Addiction?

To understand how these two interact with sexual addiction, we must first make the distinctions between the two and how they fit within the model of addiction.

When defining shame and guilt, let us use those proposed by Tangney and colleagues in their publication of Shame and guilt. Their perspective of shame and guilt suggest that both are self-conscious emotions that are involved negative self-evaluation. They go on to say that the difference between the two is that during shame the entire self is viewed negatively, while with guilt, a specific behavior that brought on those feelings is negatively evaluated. “Guilt says that this behavior is bad, while shame says that I am a bad person.”

Now that we have established the definition of shame and guilt, let us look at the common model of addiction for the sex addict to see what roles they do play.

The addictive cycle that seems to be common with sexual addiction as discussed by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. consists of four steps that intensify with each is completion. The cycle progresses through preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior, and despair. In his book Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, describes these four steps as follows:

  1. Preoccupation is the mood or trance like state that the sex addicts’ mind is engrossed in the thoughts of sex, a mental state that induces the obsessive search for sexual stimulation.
  2. Ritualization is the routines that the addict establishes that lead up to sexual behavior. This ritualization intensifies the preoccupation adding to it arousal and excitement.
  3. Compulsive Sexual Behavior is the actual sexual act that preoccupation and ritualization lead to. For sexual addicts’, this behavior becomes uncontrollable.
  4. Despair the utter feeling of hopelessness that the sexual addict has about his or her sexual behavior.

Sexual Addiction Cycle

It is at this point, despair, that the feelings of guilt and shame interplay and assist in the continuation of the cycle. The addict experiences guilt over the compulsive sexual behavior. This guilt can be so overwhelming that the addict may begin to negatively evaluate themselves and experience the feeling of shame and say, “I am a bad person.” These two emotions may significantly increase the likelihood of repeating the sexually addictive cycle. The emotions of guilt and shame, we find, can be numbed by preoccupation, ritualization, and the compulsive sexual behavior. The trouble is that the cycle ends with despair and those overwhelming emotions brake through once again.

This post is not meant to reveal how to deal with the emotions of guilt and shame, but merely enlighten the addict to their existence and interaction. In following posts we may learn how to counteract these emotions, as well as, breaking the sexually addictive cycle. Stay tuned for more.

As always you can reach me by email at wesley.chapel.sa@gmail.com or find our group at www.wesleychapelsa.com

References

Carnes, P. (2001) Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, Hazelden, MN

Tangney, J. P. and Dearing, R. L. (2002) Shame and guilt, Guilford Press , NY


The Battle for Purity: An Inch at a Time (via Diary of an Addict)

This re-blog is complimentary to the Living in the Future: Failing in the Present post below. Surrender ourselves to time and release the pressure of the the future.

The Battle for Purity: An Inch at a Time A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY RECOVERY – AN INCH AT A TIME “Victory is won not in miles but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more.” –Louis L’Amour How much fuller each day feels when we can be patient and accept the inches we have progressed. Yet, we are aware of large problems which require miles of progress. We may want others in our lives to change quickly, we may be impatient with a work situation, or we may feel … Read More

via Diary of an Addict


The Dreaded “C” Word!

No, it’s not what you are thinking it is. I am talking about the primarily benign website craigslist, except for the personals section and the therapeutic section. If anyone does not know about the lure of craigslist then maybe I am the only one. Let’s just assume that I’m not the only one so I don’t feel foolish for posting this.

Craigslist, one of many sites that compete for the top spot of my moral degradation list. Why? Because plain and simple, it brings the fantasy of pornography and video chat sites much closer to home. It facilitates the urge to act on those fantasies because they are now within my grasp. Think about it. Perceived and real access to fantasy is just a few clicks away. With porn sites the real access to the fantasy is far removed with the knowledge that the videos were prerecorded in an undisclosed location. Sure, you have adultfriendfinder and like sites, but those pose too much risk for some. But with craigslist you can remain relatively undetected and below the radar. It is this near real-time access to our desires, lusts, and fantasies that make craigslist a hot spot for “nsa” (no strings attached)  hook-ups.

Many of us have heard the horror stories of craigslist hook-ups that had no “happy ending,” however, its attraction is so fierce that, for the sex addict, the possibility of gratification compels us to throw all caution and concern out the window. We know the probability of getting STD’s, arrested, or worse are very high, but we find that the excitement of actual indulgence draws us like a magnet.

So what am I supposed to do? Block the site, download accountability software, throw my PC out my window? While all of those suggestions are good in their motives and intentions, they do not solve the problem. We can find ways around any roadblock when it comes to filling our lusts. However, hope is not lost, recovery is not a myth, there is help.

The advice I am about to give should not be taken lightly and may force you out of your comfort zone but if you truly want progressive recovery from lust and the danger of sexual addiction then just DO IT!

Find an anonymous group (SA, SLAA, SCA, or SAA)  that will provide you with a sponsor who is committed to helping you 24/7. Yes, I mean you need someone to call that can bring you out of your fantasy and back to reality. This is one of the greatest keys to recovery from sexual addiction. I don’t care if you feel uncomfortable calling someone for help, just DO IT! Get over the pride that stands in the way of your recovery and just DO IT!

When we begin examining our daily routines and finding the triggers of our lust that lead us into fantasy land, we can discover the starting point. When we realize the starting point of our destructive cycle, we can then be on guard to take any step necessary to stop. When we realize the staring point, we can begin to teach ourselves to recognize the feeling of the pull, the draw, and the attraction so that if we are close to the point of no return we can recognize it and call our sponsor.

As always, I can be reached by email at wesley.chapel.sa@gmail.com or if your local to the Wesley Chapel Area our SA group site is www.wesleychapelsa.com


Living in the Future: Failing in the Present!

As I have stated before, the sexaholic or sex addict has flawed perspectives, attitudes, and expectations of life. One method of thinking that can become a stumbling block to recovery is living in the future. What does that even mean? Culture has influenced us to plan for the future from school, career, life milestones, and to retirement. For some, we have become so accustomed to living for the future that we miss the present that we are now living in. We begin our projects, careers, and relationships with expectations of the future already in play. We start a new job and in no time at all, we are jockeying for position to move up the ladder at some point in the future. We start a project, say painting a house, and we already have the future look of the house in our mind. We enter into relationships with expectations of the future close at hand. What marriage to this person will be like, when and if you will have children, and how you will spend the golden years with our significant other. All of these normal life events have a future that bleeds into the present. So what is wrong with that? Shouldn’t we plan for the future? Isn’t that smart? The answer to these questions is yes. But, you just said that this was a stumbling block for recovery. What’s the deal?

Sexual addiction recovery involves many aspects, but at the start we quickly begin to feel overwhelmed because we do not see how we can maintain a sexually sober lifestyle because we have the natural tendency to bring the future into the present. We say, “How can I keep from masturbating, lusting, or any other identified sexual addiction for the rest of my life?” It is overwhelming because we are focused to far ahead of our current position. For example, if I were to try to run a marathon with a pair of binoculars strapped to my face, I would quickly find myself stumbling left and right and unable to see how I could finish even when I can see the finish line so far ahead of me. However, if I take off the binoculars and focus on one step at a time, the marathon becomes more manageable.

I remember the first few weeks of my sexual sobriety. They were filled with anxiety, questions, doubts, fears, emptiness, and frustration because I found myself failing almost everyday. I was failing in the present because I was so focused on my future. It wasn’t until I received a 24-Hour Commitment coin from my local Sexaholics Anonymous meeting that I took off the binoculars and began to live 24-hours at a time. I began each day by reminding myself that today is not the future and that I can do this, one day at a time. I found out that it was easier to pursue progressive recovery if a broke it down into 24-hour periods with each new day being another step towards recovery. It took the pressure of the future off my shoulders and allowed me to focus on the present.

So try taking off the binoculars in regard to your recovery and break it into 24-hour periods of time. It works if you work it. So work it.

As always, you can reach me by email at wesley.chapel.sa@gmail.com

For more information on Sexual Addiction and related issues check out these blogs:

http://bambonella.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/sexual-addiction/

http://rocklandingtherapy.wordpress.com/

http://diaryofanaddict.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/the-battle-for-purity-an-inch-at-a-time/#wpl-likebox

http://mikedaynnight.wordpress.com/