Translate

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Foundation of Sexual Health

When Mitchell reconnected with the music that meant so much to him, he had a restorative association between pleasure and self-esteem. The music and Mitchell's authentic self became congruent; they fit together as part of a force greater than him.

Mitchell is a short, slight man in his early thirties who has an intense manner. His jaw is locked, his eyes stern, and his speech clipped. On the rare occasion when Mitchell smiles, he appears controlled and distant. It is as if there is something going on in his head that is distracting him, something that is more important or interesting.

"So, Mitchell," I ask, "how did your tasks around self-nurturing go this week?"
"I didn't do them," he says, unabashed.
"Why is that?" I ask.
He looks up at me, annoyed, without responding.

This type of resistance is typical in early recovery. It is important not to shame the client for not following though; instead, he must figure out what the resistance is all about.

"I think it's stupid," Mitchell says.
"Well, I can understand whit it can feel trivial, but there are reasons it is important."

Male resistance to self-nurturing is a universal pattern. I remember when I gave a talk on healthy sexuality to a group of twenty recovering sex addicts. I was describing the gifts of self-nurturing, such as stimulating the senses by lightening incense or scented candles, when a large, burly man flew out of his chair.

"You've got to be kidding me," he said without even waiting for me to call on him. "There is no way in hell I am going to be lighting scented candles or incense. What are the guys going to think when they come over? The only smell I like is the smell of propane!"

Of course, he got a good laugh. He was expressing what we explored in Chapter 9 - High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church: the cultural bias and homophobia that are rampant in our culture. Being sensitive, nurturing, or sensuous with yourself is not about threatening your sexual orientation or masculinity; it is about being in touch with your body and learning to pleasure in non-genital ways.

Let's go back to our model for sexualized anger.

In our addiction, we learned to fill our shame core from the outside: how much sex we scored, how many secrets we could get away with, how large our porn collection got, how great we looked, how much attention we could solicit. These were all delusional ways we temporarily filled our void.

In recovery, we learn how to fill ourselves from the inside out. This is done through the arts of self-nurturing and self-care. Each time we honor ourselves by listening or supportively reacting to our internal cues, we are healing the shame core. This is the foundation of sexual health.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Place He is Now Ready To Embrace

Mitchell came into treatment desperate for help. Once a successful doctor, Mitchel lost his license after violating several patients under his medical care. His addiction destroyed the work he loved and the life he worked so hard to achieve. His once-full life has been reduced to a solitary existence contained within four walls of his efficiency apartment.

Mitchell looks at the dust covering his guitar; like a child's toy, it has sat idle for years. It was once his joy. As an adolescent, he taught himself to play and even started a band. When he reached college, he replaced the pleasure he got from the guitar with a fierce addiction to Internet porn.

Holding his guitar in his lap, he feels a familiar comfort, as pleasant memories spontaneously float through his mind. He notices a calmness that is juxtaposed with an electric excitement.

As he plucks each string, he feels exhilarated. Unlike the high of his sex addiction, this feels clean and healthy. Tentatively, he begins playing flamenco music; before he realizes it, Mitchell is transported, his fingers flying with precision. He is completely in the moment, present only in the notes and the melody he creates. He feels alive, full, complete, healthy, and whole.

Abruptly, Mitchell snaps his palm over the strings, silencing them. Painful feelings have welled up inside. But it is too late, and tears run down his cheeks. They are tears of sadness and joy, a strange combination of melancholy and hope. But he does not push them away. He lets them flow. Intuitively, he knows this is a passage to a better place, a place he is now ready to embrace. 

(To be continued.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Life Force (Part Two)

Lynn, a short woman, age twenty-five and lesbian, is four months into her recovery. She has been coming to treatment weekly because she acts out through affairs. In the beginning of treatment, she committed to a month-long celibacy contract with self and others. Lynn discovered that the idea of being sexual without the high felt foreign. Lynn never had sex while being emotionally present, the mere thought of it created anxiety and fear. In her feelings of inadequacy, she decided to extend the contract for a few weeks.

Note. This has been typed before but in keeping with my will to finish the book, in order, I'll reuse it.

"So how did your sexual encounter go with your partner this week?" I ask.
"It didn't," Lynn says, looking down and refusing to make eye contact.
"What happened?"
"Well, we started having foreplay, and then I just froze. I didn't know what to do, how to act. I felt so stupid."

Lynn sits on the edge of her king-sized bed, looking more childlike than adult. Alice, her partner of four years, has just stormed out of their bedroom, snapped on the lights in the living room, and zapped on the television to a deafening decibel level. Lynn's heart sinks. "This is not going to work," she thinks as tears start to flow.

Determined not to give up. she tentatively approaches Alice. "Honey," she says, sitting gingerly on the chair opposite her. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"What is there to talk about? Nothing happened," Alice snaps.
"Well, at least we tried," Lynn says, still hesitant.
Alice whips her head about and stares Lynn down.
"Try?" she says through gritted teeth. "You of all people know how to do IT; you've done it with just about everybody else but me. Maybe I am the problem, not you!"
Lynn's tears turn to sobs as she doubles over, gasping for air.
Alice knows she's gone too far. All of her pent-up anger and resentments exploded. She ad wanted to hurt Lynn, to make her feel her own pain. Now she regrets it. She wants their relationship to work, but like Lynn, she is at a loss.

Early recovery brings many challenges on many levels. Lynn and Alice were able to work through the hurt and betrayal. They were able to repair the wreckage of their capsized relationship, but they needed a plan, and they needed to apply this plan one step at a time.

Because the sexual urge is the energy source of our selfhood, sexual abuse caused us to lose contact with our creative identity. In order to get back in touch with our healthy needs and wants, we have to rediscover what it feels like to be authentic, free of traumatic intimidation, and vulnerable. This reconnection will be a careful and specific process of reflection and practical exercise. It is a step-by-step process. The goal is to rediscover, in the everyday events of our lives, the healthy bond between pleasure and sexuality. Only then will it be possible to see how spiritual truths and sexual energies energies are connected at the highest level of our being.

As we have explored, sex addicts had to disconnect from their feelings when they were children because to acknowledge the betrayal of their parents' role of caregiver would have been overwhelmingly threatening. So they adapted, denied their feelings, and lost contact with the care and nurturing they genuinely wanted and needed.

***

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Life Force

One Step at a Time

That's how it goes in early recovery: a minute, a step, and a thought at a time. Living in a seemingly foreign land, we begin to navigate our new life, our new selves. We learn to live with intention a conscious live, as opposed to one of disconnection and numbing. We begin to identify what we are feeling and the sensations in our bodies.

Most people believe their sexuality is about their genitals, the stimulation, gratification, or the "chase of the orgasm." Often, clients will explain sex as being so "intimate," when in reality they are describing intensity rather than intimacy. The more intensity or the "greater" the sex, the better the high.

Without the potential of a high, the idea of "normal" or healthy sex becomes fearful, even dreaded: "It will be boring. I will feel trapped." Addicts do not like change, nor do they like letting go of power and control -- or the illusion of it, because that is how they learned to survive. However, the reality is that sex in recovery is not boring; it is just different.

Healthy sexuality is 10 percent about our genitals, while the remaining 90 percent is about our life force, our creativity, and our passion. This energy taps into the core of who we are. That's what makes this addiction so powerful, what sets it apart from all others. Our sexuality comes from the depths of our being, and so does our recovery. Examining and integrating our healthy sexual selves from this perspective results in much more than just "mind-blowing sex." It provides a spectrum of possiblities, a transformation of the whole self.

***

Friday, October 25, 2013

Healthy Sexuality (Part Two)

Sitting at the cafe in Berkley, I feel overwhelmed. It has only been a week since I was discharged from treatment. The coffee shop is buzzing with UC Berkley students chatting and studying.

In my fragile state, I feel bombarded by the rattling of silverware, the clinking of glasses, the squeaking of chairs, the ringing of cell phone, and the clinking of computer keys. I feel faint and distorted.

As Ellen returns with our tea, I feel the beginnings of severe nausea. Ellen, oblivious to my mood, is chatting about the excitement she has found in her recovery. She has invited me to coffee after taking me to my first Twelve-Step meeting. Her face is moving in and out of focus, her voice pounding in my head like a kid jumping on a trampoline.

Abruptly, I stand. "I have to go," I say, surprising even myself at my rudeness.
"Oh, okay," Ellen says, as if she is used to such erratic mood swings.
"How much do I owe you?" I quickly ask.
"Oh, don't worry about it," Ellen replies with a kind smile.
"Get you next time," I say, turning and heading for the door.

I breathe the October night air. Attempting to orient myself, I wonder if this is my fate in recovery. Am I going mad? Have I entered the Twilight Zone and no one has told me?

I would later discover that those feelings, responses, and visceral experiences were all part of the withdrawal phase of sexual recovery. Like any addiction, sexual addiction has a withdrawal period, a process that is just as uncomfortable as chemical addiction. In our addiction, we have literally created an IV drip or chemical cocktail as addictive as heroin.

In choosing to get sober, we pull the plug on our drug, and we must suffer the consequences of our withdrawal. The symptoms include mood swings, fatigue, headaches, disorientation, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, irritability, loss of concentration, and depression.

Ellen and others had assured me there was a better way. And so, like most addicts, when my pain outweighed the reward, I made the leap of faith. I let go of my addiction and fell into the void of my recovery. The big question was: What would fill the void?

I had learned the saying from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), "Fake it until you make it." I came to understand that you could act your way into good feelings and that proper behavior nurtures healthy emotions. Even if good behavior does not make you feel good at first, the AA saying urges: Do it anyway. Habitual sober behavior will eventually yield self-esteem, intimate relationships, and healthy sexuality, providing you are patient.

In the childhood abuse we sexually addicted people suffered, we were forced to disconnect ourselves. It was the result of sacrificing our authentic emotions in order to serve our immature and needy caretakers. The characteristic perversion resulting from this disconnection is that sex addicts lose the ability to get pleasure from sexual activity, even as they declare their need for sexual pleasure. In fact, they do not know what sexual pleasure is. The abuse they suffered in childhood caused them to fuse fear, shame, lack of power, and intensity with sexuality. Until addicts recover from this abuse, sexual motives will carry the rest of the painful bundle.

Recovering addicts will discover the use of manipulative sex to obliterate or ameliorate the fear, shame, and powerlessness wired into them by childhood sexual abuse. Emotional disconnection has caused a monumental mistranslation in which danger, intensity, fear, anger, shame, and powerlessness have come to mean "sexual pleasure."

Undoing this perversion of the emotional truth and revitalizing the addict's authentic shelf are the aims of recovery. During recovery, we reconnect to our authentic selves, and we recapture and experience the safety that we lacked as children. In this feeling of safety, we begin to build what I call a "congruent" self, wherein, on all levels of our being, we move toward intimacy in relationships.

So the answer to the original question -- "How do I know when I'm expressing myself in a healthy manner?" -- becomes clear. It is when we feel emotionally safe, connected, and affirmed in the act of sexual expression. We create this connection when we act with integrity, our values and beliefs intact.

An effective way to measure whether you have reached this point is to note how you feel after you have been sexual. Is it life-affirming and positive? Or is it the re-creation of what we have known all our lives: the feeling of shame? If your sexual expression elicits safety, love, and a feeling of emotional connection, it is healthy.

In recovery, our sexual experiences slowly become acts of affirmation and right intention, ultimately promoting an overall feeling of well-being. This is a process that takes time and patience; it provides a path into a place of sexual wellness and health.

Crawling into bed, I have feelings of hopelessness and despair. I don't believe I can take this level of pain. I want relief. I want to act out. But then I remember what one of the guys said to me in treatment. Looking into my eyes, he said, in a thoughtful, quite voice, "Maureen, you are worth it; you can do this." I believed, in that moment, that he believed in me. With that thought, that gift from a fellow addict, I was able to believe I could do it and that I was worth it. I knew, if only for that fleeting moment, that I was going to be alright.

***

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Healthy Sexuality (Part One)

Healthy sexuality is what we hope sexual recovery brings. We are often overwhelmed by the idea of "healthy" sex. The answers to questions such as, "What is healthy sexual expression,and how does a person determine when his or her sexual behavior is compulsive?" can feel like the cosmic mysteries. The recovering addict is not only intimidated by but afraid of the challenges of healthy intimacy.

The answers, however, are much simpler than most of us realize. The challenging part is finding our way there. When I was in recovery, I felt extreme emotional fragility. I had spent most of my adult life developing and acting out in my addiction, so when I chose sobriety, or stopped acting out in my sexual behavior, I felt a deep loss of identity. I had no idea who my authentic self was. All I knew was that I was no longer engaging in my destructive sexual behaviors.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (End)

It is important these wounded and suffering individuals receive the treatment they need, that our culture recognize the prevalence of sexual perpetration's, and that we challenge ourselves to face the issue from an educated, rather than a purely reactive, stance.

That assessment needs to include the patient's psychological history, his capacity for victim empathy, and his willingness to change, including compliance with treatment and the integration of all levels of recovery.

Other factors that can come into play include:
  • The patient's mental health status. Is he mentally able to participate in treatment? Blocks may include psychotic breaks, levels of dissociation, and antisocial traits. 
  • Socioeconomic limits. Does he have a means of transportation to get to treatment?
  • Organic brain damage, the causes of which may include excessive drug use or head injury.
  • Cognitive functioning. Does he have the mental capacity to follow complex thought patterns and insight orientation? Is he able to connect his process to an emotional internal world? 
For some sexual offenders, treatment may consist of a functional process, whereas a deeper integrated experience will be appropriate for others. Fortunately, the fields of sexual offending treatment and sexual addiction treatment continue to grow, adding to their programs progressive materials for advancing the health of each patient.

One effective tool, "the typologies of offenders," was introduced in 1979 by Dr. Nicolas Groth. He divided sex offenders into two categories. The first is the regressed, or situational, offender. These individuals are more impulsive; their triggers for acting out are usually external and related to stress, such as getting a bad review at work or having a fight with their parent. Their offending behaviors usually fall in Level Two.

The second typology is the fixated offender. These offenders are less impulsive, planning their offenses over time. They are usually not under the influence of mood-altering chemicals, and their behaviors fall in Level Three.

The treatment outcome for the regressed, or situational, offenders who are motivated in treatment is usually positive. Often the regressed offender started acting out with legal behaviors but progressed into illegal behaviors. These patients usually have the capacity for victim empathy, can feel remorse, and, once the consequences are steep enough, are willing to work in a treatment program.

For the fixated offender, there has usually been no progression in the offending behaviors. Their offensive behaviors have remained constant over time, and often there is little to no victim empathy. The treatment modality for these clients is slightly different; the focus often is on building remorse, victim empathy, behavioral tasks, and accountability.

It is important these wounded and suffering individuals receive the treatment they need, that our culture recognize the prevalence of sexual perpetration's, and that we challenge ourselves to face the issue from an educated, rather than a purely reactive, stance. As a culture, we must collectively address these devastating behaviors, but rather challenges our paradigm, calling for continued explorations and answers that serve to promote positive and life-affirming actions.

***  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Nine)

Level One

These behaviors are legal and generally seen as culturally acceptable; however, they can be devastating when used compulsively. 
  • Masturbation 
  • Serial relationships
  • Adult pornography 
  • Cybersex (chat rooms, avatar on-line gaming)
  • Affairs
  • Fantasy
  • Cross-dressing
Level Two

These behaviors violate the most significant boundaries. If caught, the perpetrators can face severe legal consequences.
  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Molestation
  • Cybersex (involving underage children or adolescents) 
In the assessment process, I look for patterns and treatment modalities that can best serve the patient. It is important to note that there have been two approaches to treating sexual offenders. The first is "the offender's model," largely used in criminal settings such as with incarcerated or paroled clients.   This model has historically been cognitive/behavioral model, meaning it addresses the thoughts that generate the individual's behavior. The cognitive/behavioral model can be an effective modality.

Many treatment centers and practitioners are expanding their programs, as explained by Barbara Schwartz in the book The Sex Offender: Corrections, Treatment and Legal Practice, "Society cannot afford to lock up all offenders forever. Instead, it should determine how offenders can be rehabilitated using a "whole system" or "integrative approach to treatment."

An integrated model is more congruent with the "addictions model" used at The Meadows because it focuses on the patient's behavior as it relates to his underlying trauma. The goal is the integration of the whole person: body, mind, and spirit.

No matter what model or combination of models is implemented, each case needs individual assessments to determine appropriate treatment planning to best serve the patient's long-term goals.
   

Monday, October 21, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Eight)

Sipe's research also reports that 2 percent of the priest population can be classified as true pedophiles, with a three-to-one preference for boys. Four percent of the priest population sexually offends adolescents. Gender preference is distributed more evenly in this group.

With the onslaught of reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, it is my hope that the church will examine the role its culture plays in a priest's sexual maturity. Hopefully, the church will question how it might grow and enhance the well-being and health of not only the individual, but the institution as a whole.

It is important to note that sexual abuse is not limited to Catholic priests or politicians. I have used these cases as examples because of the recent play that have received in the popular media. These incidents serve as a springboard for exploring the larger issues of sexual offending and treatment. Sexual abuse always has and probably always will cross all political, economic, gender, sexual orientation, social, intellectual, religious, racial, and ethic lines.

Terminology and Treatment

In terms of treatment, the word "offending" can be defined in two ways: linguistically and legally. As we have already explored, it means to violate boundaries -- physically, emotionally, sexually, or spiritually. For the addict, boundary violation is often done to increase the high or to test limits; he is provocative by making sexually suggestive overtures, or she attempts to shock by telling lewd or embarrassing jokes.

In legal terms, sexual offense is the violation of a law. Offending behavior that breaks a law always falls into both categories: a boundary violation and a legal offense.

The laws of their consequences or legal judgments vary from state to state. Treatment also varies, given the type of offense and the history of an individual's behavior. When assessing patients who have acted out in legal terms, I want to explore their histories of acting out. Was there a progression to the behavior, and did it follow the cycle of addiction? I also compare their behaviors against a continuum. These behaviors exist on three levels, which are defined by both social and legal parameters.  


Sunday, October 20, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Seven)

Some stay in the "poor me" victim stance, whereas others flip into aggressive offenses. From the victim's stance they do not ask what their role was in the abuse, or what they need to do in order to take care of themselves, they attack from a victim's stance. From either the victim's or aggressive stance, all abuse takes place, not only priestly abuse. These attacks take the victim from one-down to one-up. Addiction, which is always a one-up posture, is often concomitant with the victim stance.

Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and former Benedictine monk and priest, has researched the institution and practice of priestly celibacy for more than thirty years. He contends that the culture within the church does affect the emotional maturity and sexual expression of the individual. In his book, Sex, Priests and Power, he writes:

Priests may be ordinary men, as stated in the 1972 Kennedy-Heckler study of priesthood, but they do not exist in an ordinary social-moral culture. Theirs is a culture apart. It is an exclusively male world bounded by mandatory celibacy, where power, control, employment and even financial reward are dependent on the exclusion of women and the appearance of a sex-free existence. No one can say that this culture has nothing to do with the problem of child sexual abuse. Experience demonstrates clearly that cultural factors inherent in the celibate/sexual system are crucial and pivotal in some instances of sexual abuse, not only of minors but also of women and men.
Sipe also states that 70 percent of priests who sexually abuse others were themselves abused as children, some by priests.As we have already explored, a traumatized person will react or adapt to his abuse, often re-creating it from the power position. This re-creation is an attempt to have power, control, or mastery over the original trauma. If a sexually abused individual enters the priesthood -- a system that Sipe reports is an abnormal social-moral culture -- his sexual health will continue to be arrested, meaning he will be more likely to remain in the adapted self. Or his behavior may worsen or progress if untreated in this environment.

Friday, October 18, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Six)

Every day the reports appeared, they described the unraveling of a great institution, once a place of sacred healing and truth.

In 2004, 1,000 Alleged Abuse by Priests
~The Washington Post

Priest Guilty in Sex Abuse of 11-Year-Old Altar Boy
~New York Times

Priest Suspended After Sex Abuse Accusations
~New York Times

The fallout, which began in earnest in 2002, was staggering. "The figures released yesterday," reported the Washington Post on February 19, 2005, "bring the total number of alleged victims since 1950 to 11, 750, and the churches' expenses to more than $840 million. Three diocese have declared bankruptcy."

As the reports continued to appear, the numbers became even more staggering.

"The church's cumulative expenditures on child sex abuse claims in the United States are now approaching $1.5 billion," reported the Spokesman Review.

How could an institution that we trusted, that we looked to for guidance, that held the salvation of our souls, be responsible for such horrors? Like a dam bursting, cover-ups, lies, and deceit resulted in a catastrophic gush that overflowed the banks. It eroded the deception, exposing that which had been buried, like the corpses of victims, once silenced, hiding in the shame of secrecy, could now speak. Their voices lifted, and a deafening cry was heard as the multitude of violations was proclaimed.

How could this be -- the church churning out sex offenders, each accusation more horrid than the last? Questions were asked, answers sought. Is it the environment? Are the priests gay? Words such as "pedophile" and "ephebofile" appeared in TV anchor scripts. But what did all this mean? How do we understand such atrocity?

Is there a specifically sexual component in church life that has caused such sexual acting out?

To understand priestly sexual misconduct, we must recognize that priests are no different than other individuals in terms of sexual development. Like all children, they develop their sexual templates through their sexual experience -- conscious and unconscious, overt and covert.

The things that were done to a priest were done by the usual suspect --his childhood caregivers-- and in ways I have described throughout this book. The question is not only "How can a priest have done such a thing?" It is also "How can someone have done such a thing to a priest?"

The fact that the offender is a priest does not create a separate class for his kind of sexual acting out or offending.

And if that parenting was abusive, what in church life encouraged its unhealthy growth? Like all abuse survivors, young priests live and react from their shame core. If they are survivors of abuse, they do not have the tools to be self-empowering and accountable. Not having a positive sense of self, they will characteristically react as having been victimized -- by everything bad that happens in life -- in the church and out. The adult wounded child goes into a victim stance as a way of coping with his lack of personal skills and power.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Five)

A. Over a time of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age thirteen and younger).
B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
C. The person is at least sixteen years old and at least five years older than the child.
 (Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a twelve or thirteen-year-old.)

The term "ephebofile" and "hebephile" are often used interchangeably within the justice system. they are not delineated in the DSM  but ar defined as individuals who are primarily attracted to pubescent and/or post-pubescent adolescents.

An individual may offend in an undifferentiated manner, meaning he or she will be attracted to kids of all ages and both genders. However, this is usually not the case. Most offenders who are sexually abused will abuse children who are within one to two years of the age of their own abuse. Foley was abused between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. His only identified victim was sixteen at the onset of the abuse.

The fact that Congressman Foley's sexual trauma was inflicted on him by a parish priest raises the inevitable questions and contemplation of the widespread sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

Archdiocese Hid Abuse, Grand Jury Says
~Boston Globe

More glaring headlines streaked across the nation, sending a resounding wave of shock and outrage.

Abuse Cost Churches Nearly $467M in '05
~Boston Globe

17 Priests Reported Discipline in Long Island Sex Abuse Cases??
~New York Times


DSM continued...

It is hoped and anticipated that the subsequent edition of the DSM will include sexual addiction as an official disorder. This will enable those working in the healing profession to first identify and facilitate treatment.

Another limitation is the paucity of research in the field of sexual addiction. Research has been primarily conducted with males and limited to those in treatment facilities. Although this information has been vitally important, the limited population leaves questions as to how many populations are being unidentified or misidentified.

Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the field of sexual addiction, (whose links have been provided here) discovered that, after a ten-year study, and estimated 6 to 8 percent of males and 3 percent of females are sexually addicted. I believe the actual numbers, especially for the female population, to be much higher. This is not to discount the work of those who have provided vital statical information, but rather to question and challenge their conclusions their conclusion so that further investigation can be conducted.

No matter what the data suggest, it is important to remember that, for anyone suffering from sexual compulsive behaviors, both the etiology and its related manifestations are the same: shame and the resulting sexualized anger. The expression of the behaviors may afflicted person's wounding and the consequences of their actions are equally devastating.

***

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Four)

The next question the media raised was: Did Foley's abuse cause his offenses? If we apply the theory that all abused children have the potential to become the abuser, then the answer, in the case of Foley, is yes.

All sexual abuse survivors are set up to offend, first themselves and then their victims. Do all sexually abused children become sexual predators? They do not. But is is safe to say that all people who are sexually abused will have painful emotions around their sexuality, and they will be called on to confront their abuse during therapy.

The press also raised the question: Did Foley's sexual abuse make him gay? Again, the question can be answered only in hypothetical terms. Our theory indicates that individuals who act out with same-sex partners, and who were abused by someone of the same sex, are often repeating the pattern of abuse in an attempt to work through or resolve the original wound. The behavior does not always indicate sexual orientation. This confusion is a common issue in treatment for individuals who are in primary relationship with someone of the opposite sex but who act out with someone of the same sex. What is critical in the treatment is the resolution of the client's truth.

In reporting or discussion of offending sexual behaviors, the terminology describing an offense can easily be misused or misunderstood. These terms include "pedophile," "ephebofile," and ""hebefile." The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Diagnostic Disorders (DSM) lists three diagnostic criteria for pedophilia:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Three)

In Foley's case, I can only guess at what drove him to such sexual offending.

Mark, an alter boy at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in his hometown of Lake Worth, was abused by a parish priest. Father Antony Mercieca, a trusted authority figure, admitted sexually abusing mark from age thirteen to age fifteen.

In several interviews reported by the press, Mercieca described the offenses in terms that indicate has denial and justification of his behaviors. "We were friends," he said, "and trusted each other as brothers and loved each other as brothers. it was not what you call intercourse... there was no rape or anything... maybe light touches here and there." In another interview, Mercieca reported, "He seemed to like it, you know? So it was sort of more like a spontaneous thing." In yet another interview, he talked about a number of sexual encounters that "Foley might perceive as sexually inappropriate," such as "massaging Foley while the boy was naked, skinny-dipping together at a secluded lake in Lake Worth, and being naked in the same room on overnight trips."

As of October 25, 2006, Mercieca faced further accusations of sexual abuse by another alter boy, who was twelve at the time of his alleged abuse.

As we have already explored, denial, distorted thinking, and justification are a large part of the addictive cycle. In his statements, Mercieca indicates he is unable to comprehend his offenses and the damage they caused his victim. he speaks of intimacy, friendship, and trust, thus demonstrating his delusion.

A common pattern for sexual offenders is the grooming of their victims, meaning they lure them into sexual traps. They are highly skilled at building trust with the children; techniques include engaging in common interests, offering advice, and seeming to care and emotionally support the children. In the offender's mind, these acts are rarely in ever spontaneous; they are usually planned and executed in a premeditated, systematic pattern. The offender's grooming techniques can be very confusing to the child, and they most assuredly result in feelings of extreme betrayal.

The child who is seduced into the offender's trap sees the authority figure as caring, loving, and concerned. He likes the attention and believes that the groomer's intentions are sincere. Before he knows it, he is being sexually abused. Sexuality becomes traumatically associated with betrayal and terror. A lifelong scar is made.

In in the offender's web, the child bonds with the illusion of a trusted confidant. At the onset of the abuse, the victim experiences profound confusion: "This is my friend. He cares about me, and friends who care shouldn't hurt me." Victims internalize the problem as being about them rather than the offender: "I must deserve this. This must be a good thing; there is something wrong with me for not liking it." The confusion is further compounded by the physical pleasure (the body responds no matter the source of stimulation and is unable to discern "good" from "bad" touch). But emotionally, the child feels afraid and confused. His or her reality becomes distorted as the youngster leans to doubt him of herself. This distrust and distortion of reality are the birth of the shame core, the bed in which all addictions are born.

Monday, October 14, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Two)

We Want the Truth!!! Waterboard GOP Mark Foley Now!
~The Washington Post

Priest Says He, Foley Had Encounters
~USA Today

The headlines glared out from newsstands, and questions were asked. What bout the case of Mark Foley, a man who lead a double life, whose secret world came crashing in on him in a publicly humiliating scandal?  

Mark Foley, born in Newton, Massachusetts, on September 8, 1954, was one of six children. He was baptized in the Catholic Church, and his godfather, Jimmy Piersall, a retired player for the Boston Red Sox, was a close friend of the family.  His father relocated the family to Lake Worth, Flordia, when Mark was three. Mark's youth was spent in the quiet community, where he eventually helped his mother open a family restaurant called The Lettuce Patch. His political aspirations began when he was appointed to the Lake Worth City Council at the age of twenty-three.

Foley, a six-term congressman for the state of Florida, easily won his  seat in two election by receiving more than 60 percent of the vote. Foley was a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and, throughout his political career, was an advocate and activist for the protection of youth from sexual predators.

Foley was one of the foremost opponents of child pornography serving on the House Caucus of Missing and Exploited Children. In 2002, he introduced a bill to outlaw websites that showed sexually suggestive images of preteens. In 2003, he sent a letter to the governor and attorney general of Florida, requesting that hey review the legality of a program for nudist teenagers in Land O'Lakes, Florida. Foley's legislation, which changed federal sex offender laws, was supported by a number of victims' rights groups, including The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted and father of Adam Walsh, who was abducted at the age of six and has never been found.

President George W. Bush signed Foley's bill as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Foley was also involved in getting a law passed that allows volunteer youth-serving organizations to have access to FBI fingerprint background checks for the safety of the children involved.

So what happened? How did the career of Mark Foley -- whose external would appeared devoted to the protection and safety of children -- end in such scandal?




Sunday, October 13, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part One)

Sex addicts' need for more intense highs drives them into realms they swore to themselves would always be off-limits. Sometimes their offenses become socially notorious, making headlines and filling the nightly television news. Two recent examples of such notoriety are the sexual predation of young males by priests of the Roman Catholic Church, and the case of Congressman Mark Foley, who was outed as a sex offender targeting young males.

As I have argued throughout this book, sexual addiction originates in the psychological damage suffered by children at the hands of primary caregivers. It leads to compulsive sexual offenses that become more frequent. As we have explored, sexual perpetration occurs more often than is commonly thought. A the Women of Substance website, the nonprofit organization's statistics present a painful reality:

  • Among girls, 38 percent are sexually abused before the age of eighteen.
  • Among boys, 16 percent are sexually abused before the age of eighteen.
  • In 1994, 345,000 sexual abuse incidents were reported to Child Protective Services in the United States.
  • Of all sexual abuse cases, 90 to 95 percent go unreported to the police.
  • In most cases, the child knows the sex offender. With female victims, 29 percent of the offenders were relatives, and 60 percent acquaintances.
  • With male victims, 16 percent of the offenders were relatives, and 44 percent were acquaintances.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Prince, the Playboy, and the Pervert (Part Three)

The Pervert

Sexually offending and fetish behaviors are considered perverted, deviant, a nuisance, and subhuman. Sexual offenders become cultural scapegoats for the sexual shame we feel when we deny the full reality of human sexuality. Anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse has the capacity to switch from victim to perpetrator. But is more comfortable to be in denial about the childhood origins of sexual deviation. After all, no one likes to accuse parents or caregivers of "not loving" their children, and no one wants to give a pervert the excuse that he or she was a victim rather than willingly evil.

Our shame is triggered when we hear the story of the high-school teacher who has sex with his fourteen-year-old student. Our initial feeling may be disgust or anger, but, at a deeper level, what we feel is shame of our sexual shadow side, our inner perpetrator. We then project this shame onto the offender. Our righteous condemnation is considered normal and is culturally supported. We look away in disbelief, disgust, and intolerance. "How can anyone have been so vile?" we as, and then walk away so as not to get the answer.

The solution will be found in unmasking our cultural myths. Once we are able to deconstruct our cultural personal denial, we will promote and purse the restoration of authentic sexual expression, which finds its reward in healthy intimacy with self and others.

***


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Prince, the Playboy, and the Pervert (Part Two)

The Playboy

In the myth of the "playboy," men are encouraged and expected to sexually virile, assertive, assured, and successful. From a very early are, a man is taught that his penis and his sexuality are entities separate from other aspects of his humanness. A man's sexuality and genitals are dissociated or disconnected from his otherwise complex humanity. The genitals seem to have a life their own, exempt from responsibility and relationship. Playboys have an emotionally abstract argot for sex and genitalia: "Did you get 'it' -- get laid, get pussy, get some tail, get a piece?" -- a playboy might ask. they refer to their penises as "Woody," "Sparky," "Johnson," and "Mr. Midnight." Women are objects to be conquered, status symbols to be acquired, "a good time," a little relaxation to take the edge off a tough day on the job. This kind of "manly cleverness" is not only encouraged, it is often revered.

***

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Prince, the Playboy, and the Pervert (Part One)

The Prince

Men, too, live in a culture that mythologizes and falsifies their sexuality. The "Prince" is a fantasy created in the minds of women, who are conditioned to be emotionally needy and dependent on the virile male.

Gail, who is in treatment for her sexual acting-out behavior, is a woman strong in character. She is self-employed, earning over half a million dollars a year. She is intelligent, articulate, energetic, attractive, and successful.

On the outside she has it all: a beautiful home, nice cars, and a successful business career. Internally, however, her world is very different.

Inside, Gail feels empty, alone, and anxious. She believes she is not deserving of love.

"What is it that you want in a relationship?" I ask.
"I want him to take care of me," she says.
"What would that look like?"
"I could become a lady of leisure: you know, go to the gym, lunch with girlfriends, shop,decorate the house," she says, somewhat surprised that I do not seem to be sharing the bliss of her vision.
"That is how you want to be in a relationship with your partner?"
"Yes, taken care of."

What Gail wants is a parent, not a partner. She wants her partner to step up and rescue her from the responsibilities of being an adult. She wants a knight in shining armor, a savior. Not only does she want this, she also believes it is her due.

For years she has bought into the cultural reinforcement that when she grows up, men will keep her safe, a la Barbie and Ken dolls. The fantasy develops into a defined image, which includes a prince who is charming, daring, bold, strong, and sensitive. he will listen, understand, and give her what she wants emotionally. He is among the "nice" men who make sacrifices for their women. They are expected to be sexually experienced, and, if he perceives a fault in his woman, he would never disclose it to her because he is too sensitive and gallant.

When the fantasy bursts, there is rage, outcry, disbelief, betrayal, retaliation, and revenge. Women support each other in the sorority of  "man hating."  They feel justified in doing so, thinking, "What do you expect? Men only want one thing." Having assumed the victim stance, the women restart the cycle by seeking out a new prince to ease their pain.

The individual leaving denial and grieving the myth is paramount in the healing process, which is usually excruciatingly painful. Often the woman will drop into a soul death, where she feels as if the very essence of her being has been made worthless. Often there are suicidal thoughts or gestures. The grief process is also tinted with a sense of betrayal: the cultural betrayal of the lost fantasy. In order for a woman to heal, she must learn how to construct an internal life that is sexually affirming and port of a healthy relationship. (Much will be discussed in Chapter 11.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Whores & Madonnas (Part Two)

The cultural conditioning that honors the denial of authentic sexuality has sexually disempowered the Madonnas. Often the idea of self-pleasuring and orgasm is an unobtainable and unimaginable reality: the forbidden fruit. The repression can generate passive-aggressive behaviors, which can include withholding sex, controlling sex, or keeping secrets, such as faking orgasms or dissociation. Passive-aggressive thoughts might include, "I will pleasure my partner, but he had better provide and take care of me and/or give me what I want. If not, there will be hell to pay."

Sex with a partner can become something that is obligatory and/or tedious. Madonnas often feel trapped. This generates resentments, which justify revenge.

Many heterosexual men are afraid of the Madonnas because they were abused or emasculated by their mothers. They live in silent and/or unconscious terror that their partners will eventually retaliate, humiliate, or abandon them. To protect themselves from this inevitability, they flip-flop between a "wall of pleasant" caretaking and a "wall of anger." In the caretaking mode, they expect to be appreciated and emotionally safe. When a relational conflict arises, it triggers them back to the terror of their original wounding, and they mask their fear with a wall of anger. They have an affair, they see prostitutes, or the look at porn and masturbate while their partner is asleep -- all in secret, all in anger, all fueled by the fear and inadequacy imparted by childhood wounds.

We are not adequately looking at this cultural shame. We are not adequately addressing what goes on in w omens' bodies, minds, and souls, or what they want sexually. Many women don't know themselves. They have been shamed out of their sexual gift, and this shaming away of sexual human reality is an epidemic.

Certainly the women I treat are not getting a sexual education rooted in the fullness of their admirable humanity. Knowing the truth about their humanity -- its virtues and imperfections -- allows acceptance and self confidence of sexual vitality to flourish.

I do not think we are aware of how we have scapegoated women, how we have shamed them from becoming the full sexual beings they were created to be.

Some of the women come in to talk to me present the Madonna-whore syndrome. I ask them if they ever had an orgasm; they tell me never. They tell me they don't enjoy sex. I ask if they know how to masturbate, and the idea sounds dirty and shameful. They tell me they are afraid to masturbate, afraid to orgasm.

I also treat female clients who are at the other extreme: women who have acted out and are the "bad" girls.  They feel shamed and dirty. Often they are depressed because of this shame, because of their sexuality and to know how they have been abused. In the myth, the objects of male sexual buccaneers are women who enjoy the attention and who are empowered by their ability to seduce. Men arouse themselves in private with delusions of sexual potency. Unconscious of these compelling myths about male and female sexuality, both males and females accept their roles within the myths. They honor the split between whores and Madonnas, who represent the chaste and honorable soul of womanhood. The Madonnas point their fingers in shame at the lack of character and self-respect of whores.

In my own Irish Catholic heritage, my mother sexuality was intensely shame-based. When I was growing up in the '70s, all the girls were getting bikinis, wearing halter-tops, and baring their midriffs. I wanted to be part of that scene and my peer culture. My mother told me I absolutely could not. I had to beg to get a two-piece swimming suit, because, according to my mother, bad girls wore those kinds of things. Good girls don't.

When I first entered treatment, I saw the man around me ad perpetrators -- the worshipers and creators of the whores. But if this was so, why was I relating to these men with whom I sat in treatment? Why was I relating so clearly to their feelings of loneliness, pain, and shame? Why was I relating to their sexualized anger?

As my recovery and knowledge progressed, I began to see the same individual and cultural patterns of denial I had experienced in my own process. When I stepped into the professional realm and began training therapists, I was surprised at how many professionals also accepted the psychological myth of the Madonna--whore split. It became alarmingly clear that, if clinicians were treating females as either the Madonna or the whore, then these women were not receiving the treatment, support, and healing they needed.

***

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Madonnas and Whores (Part One)

The Madonnas are the mothers to our children, the pillars of our families, and the goddesses of our communities. They are pure. The Madonnas shun the dark side of human sexuality and banish the whores to hell. We put the Madonnas on a pedestal, and we can't think of them as being sexual or sexy because they must be pure. They must be virginal like the Madonna herself.

And then we have the whores -- the girls "we can play with." These girls are promiscuous and seductive, and culturally we think of them as wrong or bad. By calling them these names, we scapegoat them and transfer our sexual shame to them. We think they are kinky curiosities, seducers, and nymphos. The labels dehumanize them. Our contact with them is for physical gratification or pornographic imagining, only there is no intimacy. We think they are beneath us although we have paid the price of grandiosity by denying their humanity and our own lust. In this acting-in behavior, we self-righteously attack the whore, who is our shadow self.

The whores are seen as sexual objects, cheap, tawdry, trashy seductresses who lure our men into unspeakable realms. The whores are usually associated with the acting-out part of the cycle. Culturally, they are considered loose, easy, and disposable. They are not respected but are secretly desired as they provide the elixir for the virile male's unfulfilled fantasies and lust.

Whores are sexual performers who usually dissociate before, during, and after sex. Often the chase, rather than the genital contact or orgasm, is the most exciting part of the process. They seek pleasure in taunting, teasing, and punishing their "prey." They see men as their victims, as weak, stupid, and disposable. They use their sexuality as a weapon, not for pleasure but for punishment. They feel in charge and powerful.

Men are afraid of the whore because of the emotional and/or physical danger, but, as addicts, they seek her because she is playground for their shadow material. The fear creates emotional and/or physical danger. They become addicted to the intensity because it re-creates the same emotions that were provoked by their original trauma.

We cannot have the whore in our everyday lives. Instead, we want Madonna, and so our women have learned to be Madonnas, all at a terrible cost. For decades we have had cultural icons who act out for us, such as Marilyn Monroe or Christina Aguilera, who blast their sexuality in our faces like a highway billboard. In our culture, they become sexual caricatures. We tuck them away until they are needed for a sexual high. We do not let the sexuality that they imply -- and that we affirm by granting them celebrity -- take place in our own bedrooms. That would be shameful.

We have been conditioned to deny the human totality of our sexuality, which creates no less a delusion than denying our reason, our compassion, our hunger, or our need for friendship and intimacy. So sex is split between the pure and the sinful.

In our culture, the burden of sexual shame is most brutal to women, whose Madonna-hood has been forced upon them by male dominance. Why is it that many women cannot have fun about their sexuality? Why is it that they cannot feel good about their bodies? It is because of shame. It is because "good girls don't do that."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cultural Conditioning: Madonnas, Whores, Princes, Playboys, and Perverts

We are a culture that uses sex like a drunk uses alcohol. We stimulate ourselves with sexual fantasies, innuendo, bragging, and mockery, all in order to medicate the unacknowledged shame of our failures at sexual intimacy.

Our sexual sideshows can get bizarre. Janet Jackson exposes her breast at the halftime show of the Super Bowl, or Britney Spears and Madonna tongue each other on national television. We respond to these exploits with a shiver of naughtiness and then beg for more.

We have the opportunity to experience our sexuality as the sacred energy force it is. This source of life and energy can be channeled into our relationships, giving them power, creativity, and healthy self-care. I will discuss this sacred life energy in greater detail in Chapter 11, but first I want to explore dysfunctional cultural beliefs about sexuality that have come to dominate our psyches.

These messages are not only generated from the mass marketing machine. In churches, sex is "bad and sinful." In schools, fourth-grade girls are pressured to dress in sexually provocative attire. On sports teams, the messages are: "Tough it out," "Only sissies cry," and "Don't act like a fag."

Stereotypes are born from these everyday slogans, cheap opinions, and bigotry. What about the boy who is homosexual? Where does he fit in? Or the girl who is taught to deny her feelings when she falls down and skins her knees? Or the youngster who is ridiculed because he would rather study than chase "ass?" The beauty of individual expression is devalued, and irresistible pressure is exerted to join the "normals" in the pursuit of sexually dysfunctional stereotypes. One of these stereotypes is called "the Madonna/whore split."

***

Friday, October 4, 2013

Beastiality (Part Two)

It is early morning as the sun rises over the fields. the frost on the ground dances like tiny crystals. Pete has been up for nearly an hour and is well into cleaning stalls and distributing hay. He can see his breath as he moves mechanically though his chores. 

Pete has just turned thirteen and, despite his love of the land and the work, he aches for emotional connection. His mother is a cold woman who has raised Pete and his sisters in the tradition of "spare the rod and spoil the child." His father does not suffer fools lightly either. He is rigid, self-righteous, and emotionally distant.

The only boy in a family of six, Pete has been treated like a hired hand, his emotional needs ignored. Long ago, he developed an emotional connection to the animals. He learned to channel his emotional ache into their care and attention. The animals and their cycles of life became a natural undercurrent shaping Pete's own development.

"When did you first act out with an animal?" I ask Pete.
Obviously uncomfortable, Pete responds, "I guess I was around thirteen or fourteen years old."
"It sounds like, as a kid, you were starved for emotional attention and comfort."
"I wouldn't say 'starved,'" Pete says in a defensive tone, as if admitting an emotional need would put his character in question. "But I was lonely."

Pete, who was recently arrested for having sex with the cows on his neighbor's dairy farm, has landed in my office. With his neighbor threatening to sue and the county to prosecute, Pete is facing the harsh consequences of his addiction.
"My life is a mess," Pete says in a defeated tone.
"That is one way of looking at it, but now you have the opportunity to get help."
"There is no help; I'm just a perverted sexual deviant," he says, rubbing his face with his hands as if trying to rub his shame away.
"No, you are a man who, as a young boy, found a was to ease your loneliness."
"Good God, stop with the psychobabble. I could end up in jail."

Pete's defensive posture was born from lack of trust in others. As a child, he was taught self-sufficiency, to endure and perform. He learned to abandon his authentic self by denying his emotional truth. He learned to toe the line, pull his weight, and bury his emotions.

"Do you think you resented the lack of emotional connection you had with your parents?" I ask.
"Probably," he says, a little less defensively.
"And that you acted that anger out in your secret sexual world?"
"Probably," he says in a softer tone.

Pete's lack of emotional connection left him desperate for attention, love, and connection. The only overt affection he knew was with the animals. They provided him with loyalty and unconditional love. Through them he found connection.

The imprint of Pete's parents' emotional neglect was profound. And his anger at his parents simmered and his curiosity about sexual development progressed, his perversion began to fester and grow.

When Pete received the attention and loyalty of the animals, he knew they were vulnerable. But, at the same time, he felt driven to violate them. He did this in an attempt to control his parents' emotional abuse and neglect, which he was unable to control. The very thing Pete so desperately craved, he debased.

"Then that is what we need to work on: the anger and shame you felt as that lonely boy," I say.
This is where Pete will find his healing -- through the emotional connection he lost so long ago, a connection that can ultimately restore Pete to a sense of worth and value.

***

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bestiality (Part One)

Bestiality is the addictive attraction to or interaction with an animal for sexual arousal. The basis for this behavior is the same as for the other acting-out behaviors we have explored; it is derived from trauma fused with sexual shame.

***

Fetishism (Part Two)

Hon sits in front of the fan, watching the blades whiz. He is transfixed as he attempts to make out each blade as it turns.

"Come over here and help me," Hon's mother snaps.
She has pulled out the card table for her weekly mahjong game.
"Thank you, my good son," she says with a smile.
"Now help me set up the chairs."
Four-year-old Hon resents these weekly gatherings. His mother, a single parent who works during the week, has little time or energy to spend with Hon. On Saturdays she spends her afternoons playing mahjong with her family and friends. For hours on end, they sit, chatting and playing, leaving Hon isolated and uncared for.

Like many of the behavior we have explored, in our culture, fetishism carries tremendous shame and invites scornful abuse that drives the addict into a secret and sordid life.

The fixation can be as varied as individuals. I once heard a colleague say that a sex addict can become addicted to anything in the Sears and Roebuck catalog. This is probably true, and it is my job to help make sense of why this is so. Once addicts are able to understand their connection with that objects the compulsively enslave them, their shame will automatically reduce, and the power the objects hold will diminish.

Hon has crawled under the table. The light, filtering through the red, floor-length tablecloth, affords him a secret world. Underneath the table, he feels safe, as if in a cocooned womb. The smells are fragrant, the bare legs are soft and supple, and the barely painted toenails, all fire-engine red, fixate Hon's attention.

Even more curious are the short skirts, revealing triangular shadow between tightly held thighs. Hon strains to see what secrets lie beneath.
"When did your foot fetish begin?" I ask Hon.
"As long as I can remember," he responds, adjusting his crooked glasses on the brow of his nose.
"You mentioned last week you thought it was linked to your mother?"
"Definitely."
"How did you feel when your mother had he Saturday parties?" I ask.
"I felt totally rejected; it was always about her, what she wanted."
"Did you feel controlled by her?"
"Controlled and rejected."
"A painful combination," I say.

Under the table, Hon feels excitement and danger. He knows his curious obsession is wrong, but the power he feels when acting out is addictive. The only time Hon is able to act out is on Saturdays, when the women take their seats at the card table. Hon's fantasies about his secret world dance through his head; the smells, the red dancing toes, the supple legs, and the crotches become obsessions.
"You would solicit the women directly?"
"Yes, I did. When the elements came together, I had this overwhelming urge. I know it was crazy; I was like a madman, but I had to do it."
"Where would you do this?" I ask.
"I did it everywhere -- stores, restaurants. My favorite places are casino. It gives me the same feeling as when I was a kid."

The excitement Hon feels when he cruises provides the intensity he felt as the "naughty" boy under his mother's table. But this time, he has the power to unleash the anger he could not aim at his mother. Hon is no longer the victim, the rejected little boy. He is the man driven to take back, to retrieve what was his due.

***

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fetishism (Part One)

A sexual fetish is an obsession with an object or body part that is required for sexual arousal or gratification. For the addict, the logic or connection between the body part and the obsession originates in the original trauma fused with sexual arousal.

***

Cross-dressing (Part Two)

Joey can feel his knees throbbing as he painstakingly lays the tile in the stairway. A master tile layer, Joey considers himself an artist, as he designs, cuts, and lays each piece precisely. Left alone in the house, Joey has the opportunity to perform his sexual ritual without his usual restraints.

"What's the matter with you, my little Joey?" his mother says, picking her crying son.
"Come here to Mama," she says, bouncing him on her hip. Madlina, only eighteen years old, adors her one-year-old son. Although she had dreamed of having a little girl, she is a doting, attentive mother.

Madlina had been collecting and making baby clothes for as long as she could remember. She kept them in a special chest she had painted by hand.

Madlina loved to make dresses; lace, ruffles, and flowers in pastel colors were her favorites. She made matching bonnets and purchased shoes and socks to pair with each outfit. Joey, with long, light, curly hair, was the perfect mannequin for Madlina's secret obsession.

Madlina put her son in the dresses. She never did this around her husband because, the one time he caught her, he became enraged. "What's the matter with you? Are you crazy?! Cut that crap out," he said, snatching up his son and ripping off the clothes.

"How long did she dress you like that?" I ask.
"Until I went to school, and even then, she would want me to play dress-up with her."
"You remember this?"
"Oh yeah. She was a nut job, especially since I was an only child. I didn't know about the photos until I found them in her closet when I was a teenager."
"What was your reaction?"
"Shock," he says, clearly disturbed. "I couldn't believe it; then I got mad."
"Did it feel like betrayal?"
"Big time."

When Madlina dressed her son in girl's clothes, it was an abusive act of enmeshment. Madlina used Joey to satisfy her own need and wants. She gave Joey unwavering attention, but doing so created a sexual template for Joey that left him confused, shameful, and angry.

Joey, six-foot-two and 250 pounds, with a full beard and muscled arms, is a far cry from the delicate, feminine creature his mother attempted to cultivate.

Packing up his tools and locking them in the trunk, Joey heads back into the house. Certain the owners will not return for several hours, Joey begins rummaging through the woman's lingerie drawer. Finding lacy panties, he heads over to the closet, perusing her dreesses and shoes.

The intense, hidden anger behind Joey's cross-dressing is traced to the abuse he suffered when his mother denied him the loving intimacy that was her obligation and his due. It is fueled and exacerbated by his sense of betrayal and deeply embedded feelings of shame. When he masturbates while wearing stolen garments, he fuses the intensity of sex with the shameful acts of secrecy and theft. He sexualizes his anger. He feels powerful and finally in control.

***

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cross-dressing (Part One)

When I talk about cross-dressing, I am not talking about cross-gender issues, cross-sexual issues, or what we call "she-males." I am talking about people who have an obsession, based in trauma, to adorn themselves in clothing of the opposite sex.

There is intense shame and secrecy associated with cross-dressing. Sometimes clients will not disclose their cross-dressing until months into their treatment because they feel it is so abnormal and shameful.

The intense, hidden anger behind cross-dressing can often be traced to the abused child suffered when his mother denied him the loving intimacy that is her obligation and his due. She rarely, if ever, let him get close to her. Perhaps in order to the the closeness he needs, he begins stealing her underwear. But at the same time, he exacerbates his anger with the realization that he cannot get close to her in any other way. Perhaps he masturbates while wearing her underwear thereby fusing the intensity of sex with the shameful acts of secrecy and theft. He sexualizes his anger.

Certain addicts become transfixed on certain items of apparel. Red panties may be the only thing that turn some men on. Others have to get fully dressed up. Some cross-dressers need to get high on drugs in order to indulge their compulsion, to mask their shame and numb their pain.

Sometimes a cross-dresser, whether male or female, picks up a prostitute and has him or her on her cross-dress. This gives the instigating cross-dresser the experience of having sex with a man who is dressed up as a woman or with a woman who is dressed up as a man. This fantasy play conjures up the image of the original abuser, at whom the anger is directed, and becomes the erotic trigger.

***