Crazy for You: Breaking the Spell of Sex and Love Addiction
Two things are generally true about self-help books for general readership:
—Only well-written books significantly guide the reader to successfully help themselves
Crazy for you: Breaking the Spell of Sex and Love Addiction by Kerry Cohen PsyD rings the bell on both counts. The author begins with clearly defining her subject (that may easily be misunderstood). She outlines the common presentations in detail then gives specific recommendations and exercises which will likely help a person who may be suffering from this condition.
Sex and love addiction is defined as a problem in which individuals use sex and love to avoid genuine intimacy, avoid connection to a partner, and escape uncomfortable feelings. It is similar to other addictions such as alcohol, pornography, gambling, and shopping in which the individual struggles with refraining from the particular behavior and continues to use the behavior in spite of negative consequences. She gives five case histories drawn from her therapeutic experience that display various aspects of this addiction. The profiles cover both genders, homosexual and heterosexual behavior. Throughout the book she picks up one or more of these profiles to illustrate the condition and its treatment.
An important concept, reinforced regularly, is that these addictions fall on a spectrum of severity and carry elements of various personality disorders as well as codependency. The author correctly identifies that many of the symptoms are not necessarily distinguishable from behaviors of people with healthy romantic lives. It is that the addict becomes obsessed with sex/ love, spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about and obtaining them, and often sabotages their lives by a never-ending search. She describes cognitive distortions such as catastrophizing, personalization, jumping to conclusions, emotional reasoning, and over-generalization as frequent elements of the addict’s thought processes that lead to unhealthy/ unhelpful feelings and destructive behaviors.
The author invites the reader to create personal rules for sexual behavior as well as the initiation of new possible love relationships. She encourages experimentation with new forms of behavior even though they may cause anxiety. Using principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) the text exposes problematic thoughts so that they may be corrected.
Part of treatment involves a person knowing his/her “wounds” from childhood and early life that predispose them to problematic outcomes. Strategies are identified for becoming comfortable with discomfort since virtually all change creates anxiety and other uncomfortable feelings. Issues of online dating, and the early stages of a new relationship are discussed in depth with useful guidelines for participation.
This text is well written, easy to read, and comprehensive in its coverage of sex and love addiction. It also identifies many useful time-honored techniques to successfully modify the behavior. While some readers might benefit from using a therapist to help with recovery, reading this text would be an excellent start.