• Dr. Michael Johnson

    Psychologist, Specialist in Problematic Sexual Behavior

  • Dr. Michael Johnson

    Specializing in Sex Addiction Treatment in Austin, TX

Origins of Sexual Addiction

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Child Abuse and Shame are the Common Origins of Sexual Addiction
About 80% of Sex Addicts experienced some form of child abuse in their developmental years. Child Abuse is any experience that leaves a child feeling shamed, especially if the experience is at the hands of a caregiver who is behaving shamelessly.

Most people think of the obvious, abject forms of abuse such as beating a child or forcing a child to have sex. While those experiences are abusive, many others are also abusive. The long term of abuse are affected by many factors including the child’s psychological makeup, family, community, and culture, but the most significant effects are those caused by the abuse itself.


Examples of Child Abuse include...

Forcing a child to kiss or hug other people.
Pulling or grabbing a child’s hair or ears.
Criticizing child’s sexual development.
Attacking a child’s thinking process.
Making a child the butt of any joke.
Screaming or shouting at a child.
Imposing unfair punishments.
Tickling a child into hysteria.
Slapping or hitting a child.
Not allowing a child privacy.
Using a child as a best friend.
Degrading or insulting a child.
Forcing a child to keep secrets.
Demanding perfection from a child.
Blaming a child for family problems.
Failure to provide supervision or security.
Punishing a child’s normal sexual curiosity.

The aggregate of such experiences produce the "Master Emotion" of shame.

Shame is the feeling of being defective to the core. Shame is a rampant and very destructive force in our culture. Shame is the inevitable consequence of child abuse. To feel shamed is to want to hide oneself because of the felt fundamental defect in self. Shame-based people conceal their true selves from others and ultimately from themselves. They commit a sort of psychological or spiritual suicide and instead take on socially acceptable roles beneath which they hide. The role may be "nice guy", "super-mom", "perfect one", "needy one", "helper", "winner", "loser", and so forth. The core of shame motivates the person to disappear in the eyes of others and to go through life hidden away within the role.

Disappearing to one’s self poses a different problem. The pain of shame is intolerable and exposing one’s self to this annihilating feeling is avoided at tremendous costs to the person. The shamed may distort their perceptions and memory to avoid the horror of the felt inner self. The shamed may cut off their connection to their own feelings selectively or altogether. The shamed may fill their lives with phony emotion, compulsive and obsessive activity, mood altering substances and experience, or numbing stimulation. In any case, the goal of the shame-based person is the same – to shut off the burning pain of the deep and inescapable knowledge that the self is flawed. And in any case, all such efforts ultimately fail.

People dealing with chronic feelings of shame develop many ways of coping. Often this includes addictions. It is certainly a common route to sexual addiction.


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