It seems it is once again time to clarify our guiding principals. We previously had attempted to be gentle with our feelings on the subject, but find part of living authentically is to as clearly as possible say what we think. To that end, we have updated our “About” page and “Our philosophy” page to be more direct on this topic.
I really do not think this is a big surprise to most of our readers, those who have been reading for a long while anyway. But, just to be absolutely clear, here it is. We do not believe, nor ascribe to the idea that all serial cheaters are sex addicts. In fact, we wholeheartedly agree with Peggy Vaughan’s assessment that it is being over diagnosed.
A sex addict is defined as a person who is addicted to the sexual experience and its surrounding behaviors. Some people see affairs as being caused by “sexual addiction.” Even though sexual addiction includes deviant sexual behavior that has nothing to do with affairs, the term has been used to include ANY person whose sex life is destructive and out of control. Certainly there are sexual deviants in this society, but based on the large numbers of people having affairs, this is hardly “deviant” behavior.
While the term “sexual addiction” may be relevant in a few cases (perhaps 7 percent according to Patrick Carnes who coined this phrase), it’s unfortunate that many people are tempted to grasp at this simple explanation as the cause of affairs—whether or not it fits. However, despite the problem of inappropriately labeling someone who has affairs as a “sexaholic,” any genuine effort to understand and deal with this issue may be helpful to some people, especially when it involves getting more perspective of the consequences of their behavior and working to deal with the problems it has caused. Peggy Vaughan
Our site is NOT a supporter or adherent to sex addiction diagnosis and twelve-step facilitation (TSF). We do not believe this is the right model for our situation. From time-to-time, as part of our journey forward, we will discuss why we feel this is not a good fit for every serial cheater, including MC. Though we are certainly willing to look at and consider specific exercises that may come from that field of diagnosis and treatment, we believe that SA and TSF control the conversation to such a degree that other conversations are being stifled. We want our site to be a safe place for those other conversations.
And, in those fewer cases where an addiction diagnosis is appropriate, TSF is one of a multitude of options that exist in the United States for addiction treatment. Being the most vocal does not equate to proven, nor to most successful. In fact, TSF and AA actually rate 37 and 38 respectively, out 48 different examined treatment methods for addiction (in this case to alcohol) according to the comprehensive results-based research (see Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives, 3rd Edition). Or if you do not want to read the entire book, you can see the chart from their book at: http://www.behaviortherapy.com/researchdiv/whatworks.aspx
It is clear that an SA diagnosis provides the much longed for “why.” We can understand the desire to have a ready made answer for “why,” but for us it falls short in fundamental ways. We do not believe that the abdication of responsibility for self-control of past behaviors is appropriate. Ultimately, it is up to you to realize that you are responsible for your life, for your choices and deciding the kind of person you want to be and choosing to do what it takes to be that kind of person. Additionally, we believe 12-step encourages the “SA” to continue selfish thinking at the expense of the traumatized spouse. We believe that the serial cheater must focus on empathy development, gratitude, and providing safety to the betrayed spouse (regardless of the decision to reconcile or divorce). This must be central to the healing process, not put on the back burner. If TSF is the treatment of choice, fine. But, it must NOT be mutually exclusive to empathy and safety for the betrayed. We get that self-care is an important aspect of the needed work for both cheater and betrayed. Still, it cannot and should not be at the expense of the traumatized spouse. Doing so only continues the victim mentality and selfish thinking of the “SA,” which in our view are, more often than not, the core problems needing to be addressed in the first place.