Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sexual Anorexia (a compilation of interesting stuff from various articles)

Interesting quotes:

Can someone be a sex addict and not be sexual with their spouse or committed relationship?

 "YES! We call this later stage of sex addiction, sexual anorexia or sexual dysfunction. In this stage of sex addiction, the addict prefers the fantasy world and fantasy sex with themselves or others instead of relational sex with their spouse or partner. The addict/anorexic avoids relational sex and hence this couple has sex infrequently and often at the partners request not the addict/anorexics."
Doug Weiss

Sexual Anorexia/Dysfunction:

 "Sexual anorexia/Dysfunction is a term used to describe a form of sexual addiction that exists at the opposite end of the continuum from the hyper sexuality condition that is more commonly known as sexual addiction. While excessive and extreme sex is more easily understood as addictive, similar to an alcoholic’s excessive drinking and a food addict’s overeating, the extreme avoidance of sex can also be addictive. It is addictive because it exhibits the characteristics of addiction: compulsivity, living in the extreme, violating some of one’s personal values, being powerless to stop the behavior, and causing problems in the addict’s primary relationship. How some of these attributes of sexual anorexia work will be described further on in this discussion.
The term, sexual anorexia, is borrowed from the medical condition known as anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder in which the sufferer has a distorted body image, inaccurately viewing oneself as overweight or fat, and as a result compulsively avoiding food, which can lead to serious medical problems and even death. Like food anorexics, sexual anorexics have a distorted perception of their sexuality, viewing it as undesirable, unnecessary, repulsive or even evil. So they compulsively avoid sex.
People with this problem sometimes justify their avoidance of sex on religious, moral or medical grounds. For them there is no choice whether to be sexual or under what circumstances or with whom to be sexual. They attempt to live in ways that eliminate sexual activity by avoiding emotionally and physically intimate connections with others. Therefore, it becomes obvious that the avoidance is not only evading sexual contact but circumventing deeper connection with others. Some sexual anorexics do marry or form other committed partner relationships but will manipulate their partners in order to avoid, postpone or reduce sexual interactions. This is done by redirecting activities or conversation that could lead to sex, or dressing in an unappealing manner, staying up at night until the partner has gone to bed and gone to sleep, or simply refusing advances.
Sexual Anorexics and Hypersexual Partners:
Sexual anorexics who form partner relationships may in an uncanny twist pair with a partner who is hypersexual. In this scenario the two extreme ends of the sexual addiction spectrum are living under the same roof. Both parties can use rationalization about the other to justify their own addictiveness: the sex addict husband, for example, telling himself, “I have to go outside the marriage, or I have to get sex from the Internet, because she won’t give me any,” and the anorexic wife thinking, “I’m not going to have sex with him because all he wants is sex.” or vice versa. As the old adage goes: opposites attract, and here they are serving to avoid intimacy in the relationship which they both probably fear."

More On Why Men Who Use Pornography May Lose Interest Later & Experience Sexual Dysfunction/Anorexia:
 "Over time, too much viewing of pornography can harbor surprising physical effects in younger men, says recent research. Many could be at risk of losing their physical response to sexual activity and could become impotent.Sexual dysfunction is one of the physical consequences researchers are studying alongside pornography addiction, a type of sexual compulsivity that is increasingly becoming the focus of sex addiction treatment programs. Researchers in Italy released study results that suggest when men become addicted to pornography, especially Internet pornography, they build up immunity to the pictures over time.

Not only does abuse of pornography lead to a loss of interest in sex, it can make men unable to perform sexually and create a mindset where even the idea of sex exists in a different realm than reality."

 "Dr. Patrick Carnes has identified three causative factors in the formation of sexual anorexia:

- A probable history of sexual exploitation or severely traumatic sexual rejection (ie. exposed to pornography, pornography addiction, sexual abuse)
- Family history of extremes in thought or behavior (often very repressive/religious or its’ polar opposite of “anything-goes" permissiveness)
- Cultural, social or religious influences that view sex negatively and supports sexual oppression and repression

Dr. Doug Weiss posits his three criteria for the formation of anorexia:

- Sexual abuse
- Attachment disorder with the opposite sex parent
- Sex/pornography/lust addiction" states:
"Any activity that might bring the addict and his partner closer are the very things he will seek to avoid altogether or sabotage if “threatened” with closeness. So he’ll keep her at bay by:

-Withholding love/emotional closeness from his partner, often leaving her feeling unloved or unwanted. For the benefit of others watching, sexual/emotional anorexics may put on the appearance of being affectionate in public with her but withdrawing again as soon as they are alone together
-Withholding praise or appreciation from her
-Controlling the money for the household (that way he maintains the power, leaving her weakened. This can be enacted whether he earns money or does not contribute financially. Again, either way, he is the one in control, not her)
-Withholding emotional interactions from her
-Withholding spiritual connection from her
-Withholding sexual relations with her (all sex therapists know that whoever says no in the sexual relationship maintains all the power)
-Controlling her by using silence or anger
-Staying so busy that there’s no alone time with his partner, either by working, watching TV or any other activity that takes him away from her
-Blaming the partner and refusal to look at his part in any relationship issues
-Ongoing or ungrounded criticism of her that causes isolation, especially if they are headed towards emotional and/or sexual intimacy

Often the addict has a loving partner at home who’s often in great amounts of pain at the deprivations he imposes on her. She waits expectantly for him, wishing he would make love to her, tell her she’s pretty, or take her out to dinner and have meaningful conversations with her. But he can only do that if he felt comfortable with what comes next: closeness, the dreaded state an anorexic avoids at all costs. That would leave him exposed to the possibility of pain from his distant past, pain that he might not remember until well into recovery/therapy: the possibility of being rejected, hurt, disagreed with, made wrong, shamed, etc. In a very real sense, emotional intimacy (vulnerability) turns the anorexic into a child-man protecting himself in the present from past injuries.

Making sense of it:
Sexual anorexia starts to make sense if we realize that the very thing the addict is after when he’s out “searching” is the high of sex without the possibility of getting hurt by anyone. That’s why he either pays for the sex, or it’s anonymous in one sense or another. Anything other than that starts to feel too much like a real relationship between equals. Real relationships demand vulnerability, that we reveal our innermost souls, precious hearts and bodies to each other. That is precisely what most terrifies a sex addict. Vulnerability on one or more levels is what addiction defends him from. Earlier woundings set him up to avoid intimate vulnerabilities and seeds the course for his addiction.

Treatment then, begins with a crucially important correct diagnosis of this condition by a qualified sex addiction therapist. First, any active sex addiction (acting out by pornography/masturbation/lust/multiple sexual partners etc) must be arrested. Then, its opposite form (anorexia, deprivation, or acting in) is addressed. From there, the sex addiction therapist usually gives assignments for the addict to start taking baby-steps towards closeness with his partner. Often, this can generate intense anxiety in the addict so working with a specialist who can guide and help the process along is critical.

It’s important to realize that of all the sexual acting out behaviors, the one that seems to most impede true intimacy is compulsive pornography use (even if use is only every month, every 3 months, once a year, and so on) . Why? In any other acting out behavior, the addict interacts with a real human, who, if he spends any amount of time with her, will eventually demonstrate her humanness. This will have the anorexic running for the hills. In pornography, no such day ever arrives, as the girls are “virtual”, unreal and therefore, rendered incapable of ever hurting the addict.

Dr. Weiss contends that early reinforcement of bonding to the fantasy world (with or without pornography) and being maintained through adulthood can lead a person to primarily sexually bond to that fantasy realm. The neurological, chemical bonds (oxytocin, the bonding chemical, among others) to the unreal world combined with the psychological ease of the fantasy world can allow a person to conclude the altered state fantasy world is not only easier psychologically and sexually, but preferred. Once the individual makes this conclusion whether they’re in their 20s or their 50s, the anorexia symptoms will follow."

Who knew?



    1. I'm so sorry you had to go through that :( Patrick Carnes actually wrote a whole book on it called Sexual Anorexia, he was one of the first to shed light on it. I hope things are better now!

  2. Can you clarify something ? Your explanation is great and you said my feelings for me once again ! I was / am still one to say no to sex when I felt like he was only using me to act out his lust . There was nothing else meaningful to our relationship , this going on for years left me feeling so cheap and dirty. He had almost NO time for anything else. I do run into explaining why I need to have at least sexual abstinence until I KNOW he is in recovery ( not just him saying it ), to counselors or people when he complains of no sex. I wonder how you would explain this ?
    Then in later years as the addiction went on it turned into avoiding sex. A bunch of excuses, but it made me question any desirability . I will look into Patrick Carnes book , that sounds helpful.