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Monday, August 26, 2013

Paying For Sex

Clients who pay for sex (this includes street prostitutes, call-up escort services, massage parlors, and strip clubs, as well as Internet porn sites) often do not see their acting out as dysfunctional; rather, they see it as self-nurturing.

I believe that these clients were abandoned by their primary caregivers and never developed the capacity for complex intimacy in a relationship. The sexual element in their sex-for-hire escapades is not as strong as their desire for connection and intimacy.

The details of the sexual liaison are distorted recreations of the parental intimacy they deserved, yearned for, and never got. These johns seek out sex partners who remind them of their abusers, seeking to undo the lack of control they had over their caregivers--with a cash contract taking place of unconditional parental love.

It does not matter whether the initial wounding was perpetrated by mother, father, babysitter, nanny, or next door neighbor. The victim will look for someone with a resemblance to that person. Whatever I have a client who pays for sex, I want to know specifically the details in involved in their sexual acting-out activities: how the sex partner looks, sounds, and smells. Like a detective with forensic evidence, I trace a path back to the identity and modus operandi of the original abuser.

Let's go back to Ben, whom we got to know in Chapter 5, first abandoned by his mother and they by his Nanny. Ben is a classic example of how, through a wounding of abandonment and shame, a person becomes addicted to the world of sex for hire. Disparate for love and attention, Ben developed an "attachment disorder," which occurs when a child is unable to bone with his primary caregivers. An attachment disorder takes place when the primary caregiver cannot provide emotional and physical nurturing for her child. The causes can include:
  • Mental illness
  • Physical illness
  • Disabilities
  • Addictions
  • Depression
  • Inadequate parenting skills
  • Frequent moves
  • A temperament not matching the child's
  • Death
  • Divorce
Ben looks around the dark room in terror. From the inside of his crib, he cannot see anything but the wooden slats in his tiny world. He can hear his parents breathing, but he cannot move or twist himself around to see them sleeping in the bed next to him.

Ben is swaddled so tightly in his blanket, each breath becomes a gasp. Ben, an asthmatic baby, lies terrified and frantic for comfort and attention. His cries are unanswered as he desperately struggles to catch his next breath.

"I can remember everything," Ben says, squinting his eyes as if watching a movie in his head.
"You were very young," I say.
"Yes, I was an infant, but I remember it all."
"It must have been terrifying," I respond, imagining the impact of his abuse.
"It was."
"Do you know why she did not pick you up or care for you?"
"I have asked her, and she said the doctor told her to let me cry."

The primal struggle that Ben repeatedly endured left him with a preverbal wound so deep it arrested his normal emotional development. As we have discussed, the earlier the wounding, or the easier the brain receives messages that it needs to operate in survival mode, the more severe the impact on the child's emotional development. 

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