Sexual Addiction Shame Cycle
Sexual addiction produces a cycle of shame that can be difficult to break and often adds to the sex addicts reasons for returning to the sexual behaviors. I have witnessed many men that have worked on healing the underlying wounds only to be caught back up in the cycle of the addiction. Eventually, these men can become burdened by shame and a feeling of hopelessness.
The work of the person struggling with sex addiction (including addiction to porn) must address two areas of shame. One of those areas derives from the compulsive behaviors of the addiction. “I am such a weak and horrible person. Why can’t I stop these sinful behaviors? What’s wrong with me?” The work to heal this area comes from the work of connecting with others, telling other men in recovery your past behaviors, and working the steps for healing. Marriage therapists often find that the real issue in the relationship is the husband’s struggle with pornography.
Core Belief of Shame
The second area of shame has been with the addict for most of his life. Dr. Patrick Carnes calls this the first core belief of a sex addict, “I am basically a bad and worthless person. I’m not good enough. No matter what I do, it will never be enough. No one will love me as I am. I can’t rely upon anyone else to meet any of my needs. I am alone.” This shame comes from a childhood where relationships were not safe, affirming, or affectionate. The child believes that he is a bad child that is unworthy of love or of getting his needs met. In response, he keeps secrets and pretends that everything is okay with him. If he has a need, he believes that only he can fulfill that need. Lastly, he comes to believe that sex will meet his needs.
Shame Cycle of Brokenness
This shame is layered on top of the sex addict’s underlying wounds or brokenness. The shame simply re-injuries the underlying wound and it adds to the brokenness. The cycle continues to grow and the pain needs more of the addiction to cope. The behaviors get worse and his belief about himself comes more shameful. The cycle of shame is vicious. Recovery must address the shame for the addict to get free of the addictive behaviors. One addict in recovery says, “For me to get sober, I must work my recovery. To work my recovery, I must get sober.” This shame must be destroyed! When the sex addict begins to work on the shame, the sexual behaviors often lose significant power.
If you desire to be free of both your sexual behaviors and your shame, please don’t hesitate another day to call our counseling center to setup a therapy session with a qualified sexual addiction therapist.