Maybe So-Called Sex Addicts Should Enroll In 12-Step Programs

A BBC story today expresses some cynicism as to whether the increasing growing of "sex addiction" is, you know, actual addiction. Sex addiction won't give you the shakes if you go through a dry spell, and while it does have the same dopamine-stimulating effects as gambling, it's sort of like food binging (and money) in that sex is sort of a necessary activity for the survival of the human species, so maybe so-called "sex addicts" need to just calm down and stop acting like they have a "disease." So why force sex addicts to enter a 12-step program? I can think of a reason: because people who have gone through 12-step programs are generally more bearable than people who haven't, and that is because the programs seem to instill in their followers the understanding that they are just inherently shitty people, which is a good thing because, as new studies prove, much of humanity simply has too much self-esteem.

Amid the complexity of perspectives on the human psyche, a slow but relentless change is occurring in how psychologists view self-esteem, said Kernis. It was once thought that more self-esteem necessarily is better self-esteem. In recent years, however, high self-esteem per se has come under attack on several fronts, especially in areas such as aggressive behavior. Also, individuals with high self-esteem sometimes become very unlikable when others or events threaten their egos.

While high self-esteem is still generally valued as a good quality that is important to a happy and productive life, more researchers are breaking it down into finer gradations and starting to understand when high self-esteem turns from good to bad. In fact, it is now thought that there are multiple forms of high self-esteem, only some of which consistently relate to positive psychological functioning.

Now, I've never been through a 12-step program myself, but in the course of my "career" in journalism and underage drinking I've been to a ton of halfway houses and AA meetings and rehab clinics, and it's nothing if not a humbling experience, mostly because people are forced to recount all the shitty things they've done to decent people while under the influence in the name of boosting their fragile senses of self-esteem, and in the process they derive a kind of self-esteem from low self-esteem, and if dudes who are compulsive about having sex with a constant stream of women can't really benefit from that, I know some women who could.


High Self-Esteem Not Necessarily A Good Thing [EurekaAlert]
Does Sex Addiction Exist? [BBC]
It's The Adultery, Stupid [Vanity Fair] (Where I got the picture.)