Friday, March 12, 2010
Many psychiatrists consider sex to be potentially addictive. In other words a person may feel compelled to behave sexually in spite of negative consequences. Tiger Woods recently spent 45 days in rehabilitation for sexual addiction and in 2008 David Duchovny entered rehabilitation for sexual addiction. Sex Rehab with Dr Drew was a popular television series several months ago.
In Judaism, sex is seen as being potentially very positive - when used appropriately for a positive purpose. When a couple has made a public commitment to each other and they use sex to create a bond between them and/or to have children it can be very elevated and sacred. Sex in this case is constructive and giving, not selfish and harmful.
Unfortunately, sexual addiction, in varying degrees, is something which may affect many people within the Orthodox community. A recent blog post presented a graphic example. An Orthodox young man, "Chezkel", is married with several children. Initially he convinces his wife to engage in various unusual sex acts, however with time he becomes bored with this.
One feature of addiction is tolerance: the drug no longer works and one is forced to take higher dosages in order to achieve the wanted effect.
Next, Chezkel makes some attempt to seduce the receptionist in the office where he works, however she shows no interest.
Then he looks for a girlfriend on the Internet, but still no luck. (I have a feeling that Chezkel is not exactly a Brad Pitt look alike.)
Finally, after a very unpleasant day at work, he decides to pay for sex. He goes to a strip club, where he meets, and pays, a young woman for attention. This is a typical case of using something harmful to self-medicate. This is the core of addiction.
Let's pause for a moment and consider how potentially catastrophic and reckless this type of behavior is.
Chezkel could easily acquire a sexually transmitted disease and pass that on to his wife.
He could impregnate another woman and be sued for child support.
He could very deeply hurt his wife's feelings. How would he feel if he found her having sex with other men?
Yet, in the grip of an addiction, Chezkel is in denial. He flies along entirely oblivious to all this. He may need to "hit bottom" - experience some very painful consequence - before he seeks help.
One technique used in sexual addiction is “Alert, avert, affirm”: as soon as you notice the behavior, alert yourself, then turn away, and affirm. The affirmation is, “I’m worthy of real love. I am a good person.” Or “I’m a great dad,” if you have kids.
I have found that making certain vows can be a powerful tool in developing self control. For example:
I hereby accept upon myself that if later this week or next week I knowingly unblock any webpage from Net Nanny software I will be required to fast 1 day during this month of --------- or next month of -----------.
The longer range solution is to overcome the depression and pain which is at the base of all this and to achieve true happiness.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 3:21 PM