Sex Addiction: The Shame Cycle

The most Common Issues for Couples-5

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Okay. Can you explain the shame cycle that is especially pertinent in sex addiction?

Charlene: I think the cycle that comes up in sex addiction usually starts off with a feeling at first so I always try to get my patients to get in touch with whatever it is that they’re feeling. A lot of what I’ve seen is it’s usually a negative feeling, although it can be a positive one also, but for the most part anger, loneliness, frustration, feeling less than. When the person experiences that feeling the way that they’ve coped with the feeling is using one of the sexual acting out behaviors, whether it’s pornography or escort services. Then that feeling that they get from the acting out, for the most part especially towards the end of the cycle, causes the shame and the guilt which does the feedback loop back into a need to act out. The acting out, at some point instead of bringing relief, what it does is bring more shame and then a bigger need to act out.

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