Yes, Sex Addiction Is a Thing

A sex addict engages in sex for the same reason an alcoholic drinks: to escape unpleasant feelings. Whether those stem from childhood trauma, anxiety, depression, or some other source, often the addict isn't even aware of them. All he's aware of is an overwhelming urge. In the moment, sex addicts are in an almost-trancelike state. They feel as if their behavior is beyond their control, and often it escalates over time—they need to increase the activity to get the same high. 

Harassment is more deliberate: It's about one person exerting power over another. A powerful man may sexually aggress simply because he feels entitled to. But he may also be fulfilling a deep subconscious need, one that might have been established very early in life. For instance, a man who masturbates in front of women may be expressing a regressed part of himself. It's terrible for his victims, but you can imagine that little boy inside saying, "Look at me! Am I the greatest?" 

Even someone who doesn't fit the definition of sex addict but uses sex compulsively can benefit from rehab if they're motivated to change. Just wanting the problem to go away isn't enough. A man has to break down the walls of denial and compartmentalization and see his actions the way the world does, to look at the pain he's caused and the ways he's disconnected from himself. 

One hopeful thing: More people are seeking help now. And many patients want to work even harder. They're shaken. They see the situation from the outside and feel horrible for the victims. They say, "I don't want to be one of those guys." 

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