Category Archives: Sex Addiction

The Art of Self-Deception

July 21, 2017 by

Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Traveled that “Mental health is the ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.” People struggling with addictive sexual behavior have lost touch with reality. They are in the land of self-deception. In fact, the sex addiction cycle is such thatSexual_Addiction_Cycle the preoccupation stage and the ritualization stage actually loosen one’s grip on reality. The imagined pleasure of acting out disables rational thinking. That resolve to refrain from acting out because you know you can’t act out and live up to your full potential suddenly loses its importance. That hard earned realization that you hurt others and yourself when you act out just doesn’t seem to matter in the heat of the moment.

If people were actually tuned into the reality of the behavior, the undeniable truth, then it becomes much harder to engage in repetitive and destructive behaviors. That’s why it’s important to become familiar with your rationalizations and work hard in tempting situations to be as honest with yourself as possible to avoid self-deception.

5 Common Ways of Practicing Self-Deception

1. Denial: rejecting the meaning of one’s actions to avoid some painful aspect of reality.

2. Minimization: admitting the reality of a situation but denying the seriousness of it.

3. Rationalization: A process by which an individual employs “plausible, but untrue” reasons or explanations to justify certain actions or attitudes.

4. Projection: admitting both the reality and seriousness but denying responsibility by blaming somebody or something else.

5. Compartmentalization: process whereby two conflicting ideas or values are allowed to co-exist by prohibiting the acknowledgement of their inherent contradiction.

What are the things that you tell yourself, if not consciously, then unconsciously, in order to maintain   your sex addiction?  Share your thoughts and comments in the space below.

Get your recovery on at New York Pathways.  You can stop the pain and self-deception with honesty and courage.

Sex Addiction – Not a “One Size Fits All” Disease

May 31, 2017 by Liz Lacy, LCSW, ACST

“I desperately wanted to have sex with him or for him to want me, but afterwards, I felt like a discarded crack vile. Empty, used, worthless.”…anonymous

Women always have been overlooked or underrepresented in studies of alcohol, drug, gambling or sex addiction. It has been 70+ years since the founding of AA and 60 or so years since the American Medical Association recognized alcoholism as a disease. Yet women in treatment remain unfairly, intensely stigmatized, especially in areas of problematic, compulsive sexual behaviors. We are supposed to be somehow more pure, nurturing mothers and, when sexual, only with those with whom we love, leading to more intense self-hatred and shame.

The Male Sex Addict – Detached Sexual Behaviors

In his book Don’t Call It Love, Dr. Patrick Carnes discovered that, in general, male sex addicts tend to objectify their partners. They usually prefer sexual behavior involving relatively little emotional involvement, although some have serial affairs. This leads male sex addicts to engage primarily in such activities as voyeuristic sex, buying escorts, multiple affairs, pornography, compulsive masturbation, anonymous sex, and engaging in exploitative sex. This may be seen as a logical extension of the way that men in our culture are raised to view women and sex.

The Female Sex Addict – Self-Validating Sexual Behaviors

Women sex addicts, responding to the objectification of women in our culture, tend to use sex
Sex Addiction Counseling Sessionfor power, control, and self-validation, despite negative consequences. They score high on measures of fantasy sex, seductive role sex, trading sex, and pain exchange.

Women who engage in problematic, compulsive sexual behaviors have often suffered abuse, serious emotional neglect, family instability or other developmental difficulties they are trying to “fix” with their behaviors. Self-soothing, thrill seeking or general detachment are sometimes the goals; other times, using the behaviors to form an emotional bond and to hold onto relationships. Painfully, the behaviors lead to just the opposite.

Common Signs of Female Sex Addiction and Sexually Compulsive Behaviors

While the etiology and manifestations of sex addiction may be different for men and women, the end result is the same – risk taking and out-of-control behavior that ultimately leads to serious, life crisis.

The problematic and/or compulsive sexual behaviors exhibited by female sex addicts include:

  • Obsessively searching for “the one”
  • Attracting abusive or otherwise emotionally unavailable partners
  • Mistaking sex and romance for intimate love
  • Using sex and/or love to mask loneliness or unhappiness
  • Changing one’s appearance through excessive dieting/exercise or surgery
  • Using seduction or other manipulations to attract or hold onto a partner
  • Multiple extramarital affairs
  • Compulsive masturbation with or without pornography
  • Making sexual advances toward individuals in subordinate power positions
  • Dressing seductively to attract attention, take risks or feel empowered
  • Having sex in high-risk locations or situations
  • Inappropriate sexual and relationship boundaries (e.g., engaging in a relationship with married men or bosses)
  • Trading sex for drugs, help, affection, money, status or power
  • Having anonymous sex or repeatedly “falling in love” with strangers
  • Trauma re-enactment sexual actions

New York Pathways Specializes in the Treatment of Sex Addiction

At New York Pathways, we tailor treatment to the needs of women and adolescent girls recovering from compulsive, problematic sexual behaviors. Confidential, compassionate and healing recovery is possible. Please call us today to start your road to sexual addiction recovery.

Liz Lacy is a Clinical Supervisor at New York Pathways in New York City. She provides therapy to individuals, groups and couples who are experiencing difficulties relating to problematic sexual behaviors and intimacy disorders. She is also considered an expert in the treatment of complicated trauma and anxiety disorders.

Compulsive Sexual Behavior and Sex Addiction – Listen to Your Instincts

May 26, 2017 by

I find when working with clients, almost all of them can pinpoint an instance when they just “knew” that their compulsive sexual behavior had become a serious problem. Whether it was paid sex, an affair, a one night stand, or compulsive masturbation, their inner, healthy voice was literally screaming things like, “This is no longer okay for me,” “I don’t what to act this way any longer,” “I think I need to stop this,” or “The last time this happened, I got in trouble.”

Despite the inner voice pep talk, their willingness or ability to stop the behavior fell far short of the need and desire to feel the dopamine rush of their addiction.

Rationalizing and Denying Sex Addiction

The problems erupt when the healthy voice, or what I like to call healthy shame, is overridden. When this happens, we don’t trust the healthy voice or flat out can’t hear it. The healthy voice is Rationalizing and denying sexual addiction as a result of shame ad guilt is common.drowned out by rationalization and denial – the litany of continuous lies that sex addicts tell themselves: “I won’t get caught again,” “I will do it differently this time,” or “It’s not really that bad,” etc.

There is psychic pain and neurosis, known as “cognitive dissonance” that occurs when we don’t listen to our inner voice of reason. It’s the inner clash of the many conflicting ideas swirling around in our head making it impossible to know which one to believe. In this state we feel depressed, anxious, and numb without knowing the cause. As a result, the bad behavior starts again, intensifying each time, and the cycle repeats itself. The line is crossed again and again until, suddenly, an important event is missed, a loved one finds out, or a job is lost. These bigger consequences bring on the “awakening”. A moment of crisis and clarity has arrived.

The Path to Awareness, Acceptance and Recovery from Sexual Addiction

The moment of crisis is actually a lifesaving moment. Usually when we’re in crisis, we’re motivated to act. We start to listen to that voice of reason we’ve been repressing or ignoring. At some point, the voice may say, “Well maybe it is time to get help,” “Maybe that therapist was right after all,” and “I have a problem with my sex and love life, and it is destroying my life.”

One of the benefits of sexual addiction recovery is that we no longer have to spend our valuable psychic energy denying the truth about our lives and situations. We can confront the demons and learn to understand the root causes of our obsession and compulsive sexual behavior. We can learn to trust again, to let go of destructive beliefs, to hope and to heal. The pain can be lifted.

Your Instincts about Sex Addiction Are On Target – Listen to Them

If you’re in crisis, and that inner voice is telling you that you have an issue with sex addiction, listen to it! Level with a trusted friend, go to an addiction recovery meeting, or call a certified sex addiction therapist for help. You can stop the pain and reclaim a healthy lifestyle.

I encourage you to keep taking the “next right action” towards a healthy lifestyle. I know I wasted much valuable time not taking action for myself when I knew what I needed to do!

Get on the path to recovery and stop the pain. Call New York Pathways today at 212-244-4447.

Recovery from Sex Addiction – The Next Right Action

May 26, 2017 by Tim Lee

I always wanted to visit Lake Champlain. The story of the great Fort Ticonderoga, situated on a hill overlooking the lake, fascinated me after reading the book 1776 by David McCullough. A few years ago, my father and I traveled from Montréal to New York City via Amtrak. The train skirted all 128 Sexual Addiction Recovery - The Next Right Actionmiles of the beautiful lake. It was an amazing journey.

As a 12th wedding anniversary gift, my wife and I finally traveled to Vermont for our own Lake Champlain adventure. We got to the lake in the afternoon, put our boat in the water, and off we went.  We were on the southern half of the lake – new territory for me. I was nervous about being in a new place and found myself relying very heavily on the channel markers. We travelled about 30 miles, from channel marker to channel marker!  As we were moving along I kept thinking that this was a great analogy for early sex addiction recovery.

There’s No Giant Leap Forward to Sex Addiction Recovery

For most people who are in early recovery, life feels like it’s in complete shambles. Secrets that have been hidden for many years are finally out in the open, yet dealing with them feels like an impossible task. There are many wounded family members on the other side of all the secrets and lies.  Overwhelming feelings of shame, despair, guilt, and hopelessness take over. Complete paralysis sets in and taking action of any kind is impossible.

There’s a phrase in recovery that comes to mind – “Take the Next Right Action.”  It’s very common for us to want to try to figure everything out in one sitting and quickly “fix” the damage that has occurred over years and years.  This doesn’t happen with sexual addiction recovery.

I sometimes compare early recovery to a complete train wreck. There’s so much damage that it’s impossible to know where to begin, let alone rectify everything quickly.  Just as I was travelling down the southern channel for the first time, the sex addict in early recovery is in unfamiliar waters. The only thing to do is simply find the next channel marker – the next right action.

Small Steps Set the Course for Sex Addiction Therapy and Recovery

In the case of a sex addict, the next right action can be calling a friend in recovery, attending a support group, showing up for a couples session, completing a therapy homework assignment, showing up for individual therapy session, or engaging in new behaviors in your marriage.  All are small steps that help reduce the fear of the unknown and put us on course towards successful treatment and recovery.  After days, weeks and months of simply taking the next right action, life starts to change. After telling our story over and over again to our peers in recovery, we begin to accept ourselves more. After we’ve gone through treatment with our partner, our relationships experience new hope for healing.  After completing the many homework assignments and therapy sessions, we realize we’ve developed a new self-esteem we never knew existed.

New York Pathways is Your Safe Haven through Sexual Addiction Recovery

If you are new to sex addiction treatment and recovery and not sure what to do, I encourage you to start with small steps; find the next right action – just one right action that will support your recovery – and take that action. Then take another next right action; and another. Simply moving from one action to another, like moving from one channel marker to another, helps you stay the course. The journey may be slow, perilous at times, but the final destination – recovery and sexual sobriety – is worth it.

Take the journey to sexual addiction recovery and sobriety with New York Pathways. Your next right action is a call to 212-244-4447.


I Have A Disease?

If you have come to terms with the reality that you have a sexual addiction then yes, you have a disease. Take a breath. It’s not as bad as you think, and taking the first steps to treat your disease will start you on a path of recovery.

Like any disease, addiction is progressive and will get worse without treatment. Addiction will also affect the addict’s quality of life and ability to function at home, at work, and in the community. Addiction doesn’t discriminate by population, gender, region, or socioeconomics. It knows no boundaries. Like cancer cells which reproduce and infect good cells, the rituals of addiction, specifically sexual addiction, create a dominant space for addictive behavior to grow. The more the addict engages in pornography, masturbation, phone sex, cruising, affairs, sexual fetishes, and other forms of sexual addiction, the more the need grows for the addict to make room in his life for addiction at the expense of other areas of his life.

Just as there are certain symptoms that characterize diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and asthma, the disease of addiction also has recognizable symptoms: denial, family and/or relationship chaos, isolation and secrecy, grandiosity, low self-esteem, ritualization or fine-tuning behaviors, etc. Sadly, unlike cancer and other medical diseases, one of the symptoms of the disease of addiction is the desire NOT to be cured. The addict will often go to great lengths to hide and deny the disease, refusing to acknowledge the existence of the disease and refusing to get help.

Untreated addiction, like other untreated diseases, gets progressively worse until the addict seeks treatment, bottoms out, ends up in jail or even dies.

Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. It is possible to stop the progression of the disease of sexual addiction. Interrupting the disease cycle with therapy and 12-step participation will help you to take back the space you have given to your addiction. Your addiction has robbed you of time. Your obsessive behavior has controlled your hours and days until you are defined by your compulsions. Filling that space with healthy behaviors will help you redefine who you are.

Viewing addiction through the disease model is also helpful to the family member, spouse, or significant other who has been affected by the addict’s behavior. It helps to define the addict as someone who is sick, not someone who is bad. This is a vitally important piece to healing, especially when healing from sex addiction which is fraught with shame and judgment. If a diabetic needs a healthier diet and insulin every day, so too does the addict need treatment and 12-Step group participation.

It can be upsetting to think of yourself as someone with a disease. Part of recovery, whether from addiction or cancer or diabetes, is accepting that something unhealthy has taken you over. Like treatments for other diseases, once treatment for sex addiction begins, most addicts will begin to see positive effects. Once accepted, your disease will diminish every time you participate in getting better.

Where Do I Begin?

Coming to that moment of truth about your sexual addiction is monumental. It’s the kind of moment that finds you on the edge of acceptance, or it’s the kind of moment that so fills you with shame that you want to run away. Don’t run. At New York Pathways we are well aware of your feelings right now. We know that the pain of revealing what you have done, with total truthfulness, can be terrifying. But if you have finally gotten to the truth about your sexual acting out then there really isn’t any turning back. It has been said that the truth sets us free. What truth really does is screw up our addictions. No longer can we partake in past behaviors without that nagging voice of truth screaming at us.

Taking your internal conflict and turning it into action is the next step. Find a group of people who suffer from sexual addiction, ones who are on the road to sexual sobriety. Use the group, and its healthiest members, as your guide to freedom from the addiction that is ruling your life.

The best groups are the ones that adhere to the disease model  of addiction and the 12 Step model of recovery. The following is a  list of some of the groups recommended by New York Pathways.

SLAA – Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous: In SLAA, you and a sponsor – someone who has been where you are – will define what is and is not sober behavior. In our experience, SLAA is the place for you if you are addicted to a person or to the idea of being in love.

SAA – Sex Addicts Anonymous: SAA uses three circles to help you define what is 1) Acting out behavior, 2) Tools to assist you in moving away from acting out behavior, and 3) Top line behavior which ensures better sexual health. SAA believes the three circles will help you achieve better mental, physical, spiritual, and sexual health.

SRA – Sexual Recovery Anonymous: SRA has a more stringent definition of sobriety. It defines sobriety as no masturbation, and no sex outside of a mutually committed relationship.

SA – Sexaholics Anonymous: SA employs a similar definition of sobriety as SRA: no masturbation and no sex out side of marriage.  SA believes that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman. SA is the most conservative of the recovery groups.

SCA – Sexual Compulsives Anonymous: SCA is open to all sexual orientations. Through the help of a sponsor you will develop a sobriety plan to move you towards health.

Some things to keep in mind are that you don’t have to be in a relationship in order to act out sexually, or in order to seek recovery. The reason we urge you to find a recovery group is because the group experience in invaluable. It will help come out of isolation and feeling alone, and it will allow you to share your experiences in a safe environment. Recovery groups aren’t full of old men in trench coats. They are full of people like you and me, from all socio-economic backgrounds and races, with a spectrum of beliefs and ideologies. Addiction knows no boundaries. Neither does recovery.

For more information about these groups and links to their sites, go here

Bearing the reality of your sex addiction doesn’t have to be done alone. It shouldn’t be done alone. Get out of your own way by turning your fears into action. There is a group out there waiting to welcome you.