When Too Much Sex is Never Enough

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David Smallwood is the Treatment Director at One40, over the coming weeks we will be featuring some of the highlight excerpts from his new book.

People in the UK may remember the famous ‘Hello Boys’ advertising campaign for a certain lingerie manufacturer, back in 1994. When the giant billboards of an attractive model in her underwear were unveiled, they sparked a sensation and were blamed for stopping traffic and causing accidents as motorists and pedestrians stared up at them.

Today, sex is everywhere. If we open a newspaper or switch on the TV we’re bombarded with sexual imagery, and there are countless magazines that devote page after page to it. The advertising industry is particularly adept at using sex to grab our attention. Sex has the power to captivate us, and it holds our focus like nothing else. It’s also highly addictive.

If you were to ask the average person how they’d feel about the chance to have lots of sex on a daily basis, you’d probably get a fairly enthusiastic reaction, particularly from men. After all, sex is something that nature has programmed us to enjoy, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s the reason we’re on the planet. Our primary driving force, as a species, is to procreate, and judging from the population explosion over the last few generations, it’s something that we’re rather good at.

The obvious question that many people might ask, therefore, is whether sex addiction is a curse or a delight? Well, one thing that I’m certain of is that sex addiction is one of the most painful places a person can be

Sex is very mood-altering – and like all things that can change the way we feel, it has the potential to become a compulsion that we find hard to control.

When we make love there are a number of physiological changes that take place in the brain that give us a strong buzz. There’s a build up of adrenaline and excitement during the initial phase – it’s a proactive high that makes us feel switched-on and alive.

This is followed by a release of endorphins in the brain during orgasm, the effect of which is to make us feel warm and contented. Nature has deliberately made sex a pleasurable experience so we want to keep coming back for more.

For the majority of the population this doesn’t necessarily cause too many problems. Most people hopefully manage to strike a healthy balance between having sex and getting on with the rest of their lives. The thing that makes sex potentially problematic for those with an addictive nature, is that the buzz that it creates can be misused as a distraction from life’s problems

If we’re feeling low or insecure, the temporary respite that sex provides can feel very seductive. The feelings of intense physical pleasure that it creates can seem like the perfect antidote for anxiety and low self-esteem. Afterwards we feel relieved and relaxed – at least that’s the hope! Unfortunately, these benefits are usually very temporary, which means that if we have an addictive nature it can leave us constantly craving more

The Bible teaches us that certain sexual scenarios are sinful, and this is something that’s echoed across many religions. The story of Adam and Eve being corrupted in the Garden of Eden is a very powerful metaphor for the contradictory manner in which we regard sex. On the one hand we regard sex as something wonderful, and we celebrate the act of procreation, but on another level we think of it as sinful and naughty

Through my work, I’ve met people who are obsessed with sex. Their hunt for it becomes an all-consuming compulsion, but the moment they get it and achieve orgasm, the whole process starts again. Whatever it is they’re seeking to fix through sex, they need to immediately fix it all over again

Eventually, unwelcome consequences begin to set in – and these can be very extreme when it comes to the compulsive behaviours that surround sex. I know men who’ve given their partners sexually transmitted diseases, which they’ve caught while cheating on them. The guilt and shame this makes them feel is almost unimaginable, although when they’re in the height of their addiction they’re so ashamed that they’ll deny they’re responsible until they’re blue in the face.

By the time a sex addict seeks help, their life can be in tatters. Very often they’ve encountered problems in the workplace as well as at home. This can be due to a lack of focus because they’re always obsessing about sex, or it might be because they’ve made an unwanted pass at someone

Of course, not every addict has issues around sex – and nor are all people who enjoy an active sex life addicted. So how can you tell if you’re likely to develop certain issues or problems around sex? Well, just like other forms of addiction, a lot depends on the effect that the process has on your feelings. There’s nothing shameful or dirty about having a lot of healthy sex – and that includes heterosexual or homosexual sex, or masturbation

However, what does matter is the reason you crave sex, and the consequences of it. If you find yourself masturbating in private because you’re feeling horny, that’s a normal thing to do. But if you’re doing it because, deep down, you’re sick with worry or feeling stressed, then that’s not so healthy

When the initial rush of a new relationship passes, the benefits soon wear off and they may move on to the next relationship, normally encountering a lot of pain and anxiety along the way. Fortunately, there are a number of very good self-help groups that can provide assistance, many of them for free.

To read more go to Amazon to order your copy or contact us directly at ONE40  at info@one40.org. This is David’s Twitter Handle:   @DSmallwoodMSC Facebook Page link:https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Smallwood/747815968591931?ref=

Confessions of a Workaholic

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David Smallwood is the Treatment Director at One40, over the coming weeks we will be featuring some of the highlight excerpts from his new book.

Have you ever been so busy at work that you skipped lunch? Maybe you made do with a packet of peanuts at your desk, and a sour coffee from the vending machine – in which case you probably felt pretty crap by the end of the afternoon.

Perhaps you worked into the evening because there was so much to do, and by the time you left you were exhausted? If this happens to you on a regular basis, then it might be a clue that your relationship with work isn’t quite as healthy as you think it is. Even if you’re a high achiever – in fact, especially if you’re a high achiever.

In the course of my work as a therapist, I often hear the phrase ‘hard work: hard play’ – usually when somebody is trying to justify the fact that they spend half their life getting drunk. You’ve probably heard phrases like this yourself, and know that they mean: ‘I work hard, so now and then I like to let off some steam’, or ‘I work hard during the week so I like to party at weekends.’ There’s no harm in that, eh? Or is there?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with having a strong work ethic – far from it – but the interaction between work and addiction is farmore complex than you might imagine. You may be surprised to learn that work can become an addictive process in its own right, and it’s capable of fuelling other addictions.

Working is a behaviour that can have a distinct mood-altering effect on us. It might not make us stagger around, in the way that being drunk does, but the impact it can have on our self-esteem is very profound

If you have an addictive nature, however, your relationship with work might end up being completely different. If you have a predisposition to anxiety (something from which I believe all addicts suffer), at some point in your life you’re going to adapt your behaviour in an attempt to alleviate your discomfort. One way you might try to achieve this is by doing something that’s mood altering – and work can seem like the ideal vehicle

The process of gaining self-esteem through hard work usually starts at an early age, particularly among high achievers. Let’s say, for example, that in childhood you do well in school. When you get good marks, it wins you praise and attention from your teachers or parents, which feels good. Nothing wrong with that – after all, it’s natural for parents to want their children to do well at school. You enjoy the experience, so you work harder, and maybe, as a result, you do well in your final exams. The subsequent applause and affirmation feel even better. People start to praise you, and a place at university beckons. You think to yourself: I like this. I feel clever and this is what I’m meant to do

There are many outlets for addictive behaviour, and they’re not always obvious. The common factor is that the process is often fuelled by low confidence and low self-esteem, and sensitivity to emotional stress. To the outside world a person might seem affluent and successful, but inside they can be hurting like hell.

These negative feelings can trigger excessive drinking or drug taking – or they might manifest themselves in other ways. Some people start having affairs if they latch onto sex in an attempt to boost their self-esteem. They hate themselves for it, and they may have loving partners at home, but just like overworking, it becomes a compulsion that they cannot easily control

To read more go to Amazon to order your copy or contact us directly at ONE40  at info@one40.org. This is David’s Twitter Handle:   @DSmallwoodMSC Facebook Page link:https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Smallwood/747815968591931?ref=