Sexual Recovery Blog

6 Types of Sex Addiction

Posted by Mackenzie Sodestrom on

In April of this year we hosted Dr. Doug Weiss, notable author & sex addiction therapist in Colorado. He provided excellent training on the basics of sex addiction and recovery treatment for therapists as well as couples who struggle with addiction. Dr. Weiss presented 6 types of sex addiction, outlining the specific causes and treatment focus for each type. Many of our clients may already know they are sex addicts when they come to treatment; our job is to decipher which types of sex addiction are present. Without knowing the root of the addiction, we can’t offer the best treatments. Here is a quick overview of the 6 types:

1. Biological 

Think back to your Psych 101 class & Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiment - ring the bell, feed the dog. A biological addiction develops as sexual experience is repeatedly tied to an object. Eventually, sexual arousal becomes attached to a thing (i.e. pornographic images, fetish items, etc.) rather than a human soul. This type is almost always present for addicts.

2. Psychological

This stems back to some emotional or psychological trauma like abandonment, abuse, or neglect. The addiction may present as compensation for this wound. For example, if the addict was rejected, there may be a theme of acceptance in their sexual fantasies.

3. Spiritual

According to Dr. Weiss, this type of addiction is rare, but it does exist. Occasionally people are searching for God and a spiritual connection through sex. Once they find a spiritual connection, they may be instantly well.

4. Sexual Trauma

A history of sexual abuse and trauma may also lead to sexually compulsive behaviors later in life. Often the unprocessed trauma is unconsciously recreated through the sexual behaviors. In order to achieve recovery from the addiction, it is essential to deal with the trauma. For more info, see Trauma and Sexually Compulsive Behavior.

5. Intimacy Anorexia

Intimacy Anorexia is the active withholding of emotional, spiritual, or sexual intimacy with a spouse where the withholding is not present in other relationships. It is characterized by withholding love, praise, sex (or intimacy during sex), spiritual connection, and/or feelings from the partner. Intimacy anorexics may also say they are too busy to offer love to spouse, may blame their spouse for all problems in the relationship, offer ongoing or ungrounded criticism of their partner, use anger or silence to create distance in the relationship, and/or control the money. The relationship feels more like being roommates than a romantic partnership. In couples where sex addiction is present, Intimacy Anorexia presents in 28% of male addicts and 39% of female partners.

6. Mood Disorders 

Mood disorders like Depression or Bipolar Disorder may either be the root or a symptom of the sexual addiction. If the disorders are the root of the addiction, when treated the compulsive behaviors should disappear. If the behaviors continue, however, the mood disturbances are likely symptoms of the addiction and will fade as the individual works through their recovery.

If you or somebody you know are struggling with sex addiction issues, regardless of the type, we invite you to meet with our professionally trained therapists at Community Presbyterian Counseling Center, located in San Ramon, California.

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