More and more people are seeking help for sex addiction in Singapore. Do you ever wonder if you may be addicted to sex? Find out what the most common types of behaviour are that constitute a sex addiction.
Sex addiction in Singapore has been steadily on the rise for some time now according to frontline health care professionals, and this observation is supported by the fact that we have a growing Sex and Love Addicts Annonymous (SLAA) fellowship here as well — but because the subject is rarely touched on by mainstream media most people do not even know it exists.
Sex addiction is very difficult to diagnose and treat — partly because sex is a natural part of couple life and the amount of sex one is comfortable having differs from person to person — but also because sex is considered a taboo subject by many Singaporeans. The hushed attitude taken around sex and sex addictions means that many Singaporeans are unaware of the signs or types of sex addiction or the treatments available to them. While sex addiction is not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Association doctors and psychologists working with with people suffering from this compulsive behaviour recognise that it is a legitimate addiction. Worldwide there is a building awareness of the addiction, with many famous people admitting to their problems and seeking help. One of the most notable celebrities battling a sex addiction is Tiger Woods who publically admitted a problem after his divorce. Tiger Woods was a serial cheater, but this is only one of many different types of sex addiction.
What is a Sex Addiction or Compulsive Sexuality?
A sex addiction also referred to as compulsive sexuality is classed as a process addiction, and treated similarly to a food or gambling addiction. Certain behaviours that offer enjoyment and emotional highs can become addictive over time and while the experience was initially enjoyable people crave more of the addiction to maintain those highs and end up experiencing negative consequences such as relationship problems, emotional and mental health issues. A sex addiction can be classified as increasingly compulsive thoughts and actions regarding sex, for example an increasing need for sex, feeling guilty about fetishes or behaviour, lying to your partner, cheating, increased time spent watching pornography or engaging in illicit activities.
The cabin Singapore is one of the few outpatient clinics in Singapore that offers treatment for sex addiction. Often clients have mentioned that they felt there was a problem with their sex life and sexual behaviours but were unsure what was wrong because sex additions are virtually unheard of in Singapore. However their growing feelings of shame and deteriorating relationships due to negative behaviours lead them to seeking help. But what types of behaviour classifies a sex addict?
What Behaviours make one a Sex Addict?
There is no set profile of a sex addict. The following list shows some of the most common actions and behaviours of sex addicts as defined by Patrick Carnes, but it is not exhaustive and should be used as a guideline rather than a set diagnosis. Also, many people suffering from sex addiction can present with more than one of the following behaviours.
Insatiable sex cravings
The desire for sex seems to be insatiable and addicts spend an increasingly high amount of time fulfilling these desires. The cravings often lead to negative behaviours such as cheating or paying for sex in a bid to satisfy the addict’s needs.
Porn and fantasy sex
Sexual arousal becomes increasingly dependent on visual stimulation and pornographic images. Sexual images are used with increasing frequency and negative behaviours or feelings result after. Arousal depends on possibilities and fantasies which may affect real life relationships, and the ultimate goal is to engage in increasingly elaborate sexual fantasies.
Sex occurs with multiple unknown partners and arousal lies in anonymity, risk and novelty. Anonymous sex has high risk factors such as sexually transmitted diseases and putting yourself in dangerous and vulnerable situations. Often addicts will engage in this behaviour in public spaces such as nightclubs and believe that it is normal behaviour.
In this type of sex addiction arousal is based on conquests and the ability to seduce another, resulting in a temporary ego boost. Often more than one partner is being seduced at any given time and the addict feels like they have control over the other person. Seductive sex can also occur in combination with anonymous sex.
Paying for sex
With prostitution the ability to have the type of sex desired on demand becomes quickly addictive. The elements of money and power also come into play and over time arousal becomes attached to the money and addicts cannot enjoy regular sex. Sometimes there is also a relationship developing of supporting the prostitute and providing for them. Prostitution can quickly lead to illegal activities and even exploitation of more vulnerable groups such as children.
This is bartering sex in exchange for goods or services, rather than hard cash. A common example is a boss who invites or forces his staff to sleep with him in order to get a promotion that they already qualify for. The arousal is in gaining control of others using sex as leverage. Here, the addict usually has difficulty in seeing how exchange of sex is an objectification of self.
Voyeuristic or exhibitionist sex
Voyeurism requires visual arousal either through porn or through real physical images. Behaviour becomes erratic from searching for stimulating images or scenes and illegal activities such as breaking and entering into property may occur. Exhibitionist behaviour is also erratic and addicts receive arousal from the viewer. They may expose themselves in both public areas and on the internet to a range of people. Both of these sex addiction types believe their behaviour is not damaging to others as it is non-contact.
Arousal occurs through violation of others, and is often illegal. Intrusive sexual activities can sometimes push the boundaries of sexual harassment and even rape. More often the violation is more subtle and addicts get aroused from discreet or ‘accidental’ inappropriate touching. This most often occurs in public such as on trains or at the work place.
Pain exchange sex
This type of sexual behaviour involves creating scenarios where pain, humiliation and fear is felt and sex arousal is based on these strong negative emotions. It is common that props and aids are used to inflict these feelings and sex addicts can play either the dominant or the submissive role. Often the actions link to the addicts feelings of unworthiness or strengthen their ego, and these are feelings that they have a hard time dealing with in their everyday lives.
In this type of sexual behaviour arousal is based on exploitation of vulnerable groups such as children, adolescents, people in need or even work clients or patients. Exploitative sex often occurs alongside a grooming process where the end goal is sexual activity, and thoughts of victims playing ‘hard to get’ are common.
Treatment for Sex Addiction
To effectively treat a sex addiction the root causes and triggers need to be identified, and the patient’s reaction to them changed. While substance addictions such as alcohol can be treated through abstinence, it is unrealistic for sex addicts to abstain from sex for a lifetime. Here is where The Cabin’s Recovery Zones treatment model comes into play — it is designed especially to address addictions where complete abstinence cannot be practised.
Treatment instead focuses on awareness about the addiction and the triggers that cause the actions. Clients can then define their own recovery criterion, including the problematic behaviours that they need to abstain from.
Through personal counselling, group sessions, and even special sessions with the sex addict’s partner, clients work through their personal issues and make a complete recovery, allowing them to engage in a healthy and positive sex life as well as mend their marital relationships in many cases.
As sex addiction becomes more talked about it in Singapore and worldwide, it is hoped that more people will recognise the symptoms and seek help to overcome their problems. While treating sex addiction can be challenging, The Cabin Singapore has qualified, expert therapists to help patients on the road to recovery.