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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Addicts who struggle with underlying emotional or psychological issues
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Addicts who struggle with underlying emotional or psychological issues such as early-life emotional trauma, social anxiety, low self-esteem,...

Addicts who struggle with underlying emotional or psychological issues such as early-life emotional trauma, social anxiety, low self-esteem, and depressive episodes can unconsciously learn to self-medicate by abusing their sympathetic nervous system through intense fantasy, urges, rituals, and ultimately behaviors as means of dissociating from or otherwise coping with internal and external life stressors, emotional pain, and uncomfortable feelings. This “addictive” response is the underlying biological component that drives the dysfunctional behavior patterns of compulsive gamblers, shopaholics, sex addicts, and others who seek intensity as a means of self-soothing distraction. 

Over time, sex addicts (and other process addicts) unconsciously learn to control and abuse their own neurochemistry the same way alcoholics and drug addicts learn to abuse the effects of the substances they ingest. Sex addicts become “hooked” on the dissociative emotional arousal and distraction produced by their addiction. Unsurprisingly, sex addicts find as much excitement and escape in thinking about and searching for their next sexual encounter as in the sex act itself. They sometimes refer to this trance-like state as being “in the bubble” or “in the trance.” Much like compulsive gamblers, sex addicts can sacrifice hours, even days of precious time and life-focus while losing themselves to this elevated condition.

Understanding the underlying neurochemistry that drives sexual addiction can help reduce stigma, as it promotes insight into the fact that hypersexuality is not really about the sexual act and orgasm – no more so than compulsive gambling is about winning or losing. Those who abuse their own neurochemistry as a means of self-regulation and affect management spend far more time in the fantasy about, search for, and pursuit of sex and romantic intensity than they ever spend in the actual sexual act.

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