Can Past Trauma Trigger a Cycle of Destructive Behaviors?

February 28, 2022

Sex and porn addiction seem to be making their way into headlines more frequently as of late. A handful of celebrities are in court facing a mix of legal consequences regarding severe sex and pornography violations. The definition of sex and porn addiction remains inconsistent or unclear. Yet, it's clear by the outcome of these cases that these behaviors come with serious consequences. So, what happens that leads people down this path, and does trauma have anything to do with it?

Regardless of why sex addiction forms, two wrongs don't make a right. In other words, sexual trauma does not offer a justification to harm others or break the law. With that being said, let's explore and see what research indicates regarding addiction and past trauma.

In this article, we'll look into the controversy surrounding the definition of sex addiction and the role trauma may have in this.

The Correlation Between Trauma Amid a Controversial Diagnosis.

Dr. Patrick Carnes is a world-renowned therapist known by some as the founder of sexual addiction therapy. He's the founder of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). Likewise, he is behind many cutting-edge recovery programs. Like many others in the field, he is certain that sex addiction is real and very serious.

On the contrary, other professionals, such as Dr. Marty Klein, feel a sex addiction diagnosis is useless. He says the misconception of sex in the public eye can cause people to fear their ability to control their own sexuality. The controversy seems to lie within the definition of typical human sexuality.

Research sheds light on the role of trauma in some cases of sex addiction. For example, those with sexual trauma may put themselves into positions that are sexual in nature. However, this time, they are in control or have the power to determine the outcome of the situation.

According to Dr. Carnes, those with sexual addiction are likely to develop a cycle of self-destructive behaviors. These cycles begin with strong negative emotions like hopelessness, anger, shame, or fear. Then, to numb or escape these emotions, they turn to sexual behaviors that bring pleasure. Over time, this cycle becomes more vicious, and consequences no longer serve as an effective deterrent. Regardless of the legal or moral repercussions, the behaviors become riskier. Likewise, the time frame between pleasure and a new flood of negative emotions decreases. And so, the cycle starts again.

When Trauma Leads to Extreme Behaviors

Trauma comes in many forms and can occur during a single incident or on a regular basis. Research regarding trauma and sexual addiction identifies a strong correlation between the two. reports that a common factor among those with sex addiction is a troubled childhood. As a result, they're living with intense feelings of shame, isolation, and hopelessness. Furthermore, a study among those with sexual addictions found that 72% were physically abused as a child. Likewise, 81% were sexually abused, while 97% experienced emotional abuse.

Trauma that occurs through sexual abuse can heavily impact sexual development. As a result, it can impact proper physical, emotional, or psychological sexual development.

If you're living with unprocessed trauma, it could be feeding your addiction. We're here to help you get to the root of the problem. At Paradise Creek Recovery Center, we offer a safe, respectful environment as you work to heal. We're here to walk this journey with you and help you reclaim your life.

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