How does sex addiction start? Part 3

Now we have taken a look at how sex addiction starts in terms of opportunity-induced addiction and trauma-induced addiction. In this final part, I will explain how attachment issues also contribute towards sex addiction.

Whatever may happen to a person in their childhood, they are far more likely to fair well if there is a strong parental attachment. They will know that it is okay to make mistakes and furthermore, they will learn how to recover from them in a healthy way. Any absence of this strong parental connection can prove a catalyst for problems with addiction.

Attachments begin as soon as we are born as we latch on to our mothers for nourishment and safety. These fundamental processes of attachment are key for healthy emotional and physical development. Before we can verbalise our needs, we all need someone who can attune to them and provide. Children need encouragement in their learning otherwise they will not develop the ability to communicate their needs healthily. The effects of not having this kind of attention are not only emotional – they are biologically imprinted. The consequences are written structurally on their brains.

Styles of parenting play an enormous role in our development. Whether that parent was abusive, absent or in some ways inadequate, the consequences can impact negatively on their children. Naturally, this can be a touchy subject for many. People are not often inclined to disrepute their parents and will jump to defend them against such accusations. Understandably, this is particularly the case if the parent’s behaviour is well-intentioned and perhaps a result of extenuating circumstances. They may have fallen ill, they may be struggling financially or have personal problems of their own. However it is still important for a person to acknowledge how their parent’s behaviour may have contributed towards their addiction without placing the heavy burden of blame. It is indeed true that parents are still human and will make mistakes.

The bottom line is that if we don’t experience a healthy attachment in childhood we are more likely to grow up into someone who is unable to communicate their needs and more fearful of having them met. When people have let us down, we will turn to things for comfort, rather than others. For people with sex addiction, that means turning to pornography or casual sex to feel good about ourselves, rather than friends and loved ones.

Throughout April we have looked at opportunity-induced addiction, trauma-induced addiction and finally, attachment-induced addiction. Needless to say, the question of how sex addiction starts is not a simple one to answer. There are many factors that can come into play. However, I hope I have left you with a better understanding. Next time we will be looking at the impact these different causes of addiction have on partners.