Those who know me were very much surprised to hear that I had gone to a discussion and book signing by the infamous purveyor of porn, Larry Flynt. I surprised myself, actually, but I was interested in his new book, One Nation Under Sex, and I also admire him for his continuing work to defend our First Amendment.
Mr. Flynt was entertaining during much of his talk about how the sex lives of our presidents and their first ladies have influenced our politics and I applaud his derision of the hypocrisy in our country. What I found disappointing was his response to a question I posed.
Only that morning, I had been on a panel discussion before a class of medical students and the other panel members, all sex therapists and educators, had denigrated the concept of sex addiction. I respectfully listened to them but they rolled their eyes and made faces indicating their repudiation of my foolish (in their eyes) position on the subject – responses that I personally found juvenile and unprofessional – and I thought it would be interesting to hear what Mr. Flynt’s thoughts might be.
Unfortunately, he only made the well-worn, supposed-to-be-amusing remark that if someone had to have an addiction, sex is the one to have.
Sex addiction, like any addiction, is painful, shameful, and negatively affects not only the addict, but the significant people in the addict’s life and even those who are objectified by the addict’s behavior. It’s not about having joyous, unrestrained orgasms and sex play and it’s not about loving relationships. Labeling sexual behavior as addictive is not about imposing morals or limiting freedom of sexual expression. It’s about behavior that is obsessive, compulsive, and out of control and leads to negative consequences to self and others. Addiction is a barrier to intimacy and Connection, while recovery from addiction leads to true joy in life.
I hope that before anyone argues with me about whether or not sex addiction exists, you will read my book, Addict America: The Lost Connection. You will get to know me and hopefully understand how I conceptualize addiction.
I don’t know you, Larry, but I’m glad we met, and I thank you sincerely for fighting for our right to have these discussions.