Five Common Roots of Sexual Addiction

Five Common Roots of Sexual Addiction

Part 1 - Neurological Conditioning

by Jayson Graves

I remember the first boy I ever had a "crush" on: his name was Robby and we were both 12 to 13. I just remember noticing him in a different way and wanting to be close to him. I wouldn’t call it necessarily a sexual thing although I’m sure he may have showed up that way in dreams. Rather, the feelings I had towards him were more about wanting what he had: he always seemed to be very positive and confident and was one of the popular kids yet showed kindness to the likes of "nerdy little me."

Understanding the roots

Looking back at that today as a counselor, I have come to understand my sexual confusion/disorientation as, in part a form of sexual addiction. From what I have learned treating sex addicts of all sorts since 2000, there are essentially 5 common types or roots of sexual addiction: Neurological, Psychological, Trauma-induced, Intimacy-Aversive and Mood/Brain-functioning roots. I will explain these, using my own story to hopefully give you a good grasp at understanding your own and that of those who struggle similarly.

Neurological Conditioning—"Ring the bell, feed the dog"

First, the most common type, Neurological, can be understood as addiction that's created behaviorally. This happens primarily as a result of masturbation and fantasy and as the brain is conditioned through orgasm to respond to the images. Sexual climax, with our without ejaculation, releases a combination of endorphins, enkephalins, oxytocin, adrenaline and other neurochemicals that creates a strong chemical impact. The brain imprints the imagery before it, whether imagined or pornography, at the moment of impact. This is why the images that we've acted out with in the past can seems so vivid years or even decades later. These images have essentially been "burned on our brain" through this reinforcing process.

Remember Pavlov and his dogs? Ring the bell, feed the dog over and over until eventually, you ring the bell (stimulus) and the dog automatically salivates (conditioned response). It works the same way with sex. When we see an image simliar to one we have experienced an orgasm to, we are automatically aroused.

My own experimentation with masturbation started earlier than normal, becoming more frequent at about 11 or 12, eventually becoming a daily habit through my teens and tapering off in my twenties. I know I looked at a lot of pornography and remember focusing mainly on the men in the pictures. I think this was because they were less prevalent than women and I was curious about what they were doing and what I might be expected to do myself. The sense of freedom and adventure they seemed to have been also very alluring to me. So I would go back, sometimes daily to my secret stash and fixate on these pictures, and regularly sealing the images into my brain through masturbation.

This habit continued for me even after being saved at age 21—primarily because no one ever told me how harmful it could be—even though I always somehow (thank you Holy Spirit) felt convicted about it and would try to stop but only with mixed results. Even though the pornography and acting-out with others stopped, I still had the images in my fantasy world and this kept me attached.

Part 2 — Psychological Deficits

Healing for the Soul

Jayson Graves, M.MFT, husband of Susan and father to Selah Rae & Asabella, is a Christian Psychotherapist specializing in sexual addictions recovery and unwanted same-sex attractions. He enjoys helping his clients from both a clinical and personal frame as a person in recovery himself.

He is the founder and director of international counseling ministry Healing for the Soul Counseling & Coaching offering telephone therapy and his first original idea: Teleconference Recovery Groups for men and for wives in recovery worldwide.

Jayson has served as a speaker for Focus of the Family's Love Won Out conferences and New Life Ministry's Every Man’s Battle intensive workshops, as the founder and host of The Blazing Grace Show radio program, and hosted the PurePassion TV show. He designed and teaches the "Biblical Sexuality in the 21st Century" course for Christian Life School of Theology online and live worldwide.
Posted: Sep 4, 2015,
Categories: Men, Women,
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