Dear Abby (a.k.a. Jeanne Phillips) is either really bored, really stupid, or really being ghost-written by A.I. software.
Over the past few months, the Dear Abby column has answered several sex-related questions in ways that have betrayed Phillips’ fundamental misunderstanding, or unwillingness to understand, what constitutes unhealthy sexual experiences and assault. Once, she attributed a rape to a “breakdown in communication;” another time, she wrote to a concerned aunt: “Frankly, I think that if your brother-in-law was going to assault his daughter, it would have happened already.”
On Wednesday morning (at 3 a.m.), Dear Abby published a column that is so thoroughly insane that I wonder if Phillips, in her advanced years, has lost her mind or realizes that the only way to get attention is to troll. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The advice-seeker, someone called Obsessed in Miami, writes:
DEAR ABBY: I’m obsessed with having sex. I can’t stop. Ever since I was 8, I’ve been having sex, and now I’m 18. I have a boyfriend I’ve been dating since I was 8, and we can’t stop having sex. I want to stop, but he doesn’t want to. I keep on doing it because he says if I don’t, he’ll leave me. Please help. What do I do?
The question is notable, namely, because an eight-year-old cannot give consent, which automatically categorizes the experience of Obsessed as rape. If I were Abby (if only!) I would tell her the relationship wasn’t a relationship at all if it was based on coercion and to seek counseling and/or call a sexual assault hotline.
Abby, somehow, read that letter, let the information marinate in her brain, and popped out the solution: this person has a sex addiction.
There are worse things than losing a boyfriend who threatens to dump you if you don’t have sex with him. Chief among them is having sex with someone because you have been coerced. Because you feel you are “obsessed,” you may have what is called a sex addiction.
Licensed psychotherapists treat people with sexual compulsive disorders, and self-help groups help individuals suffering because they can’t control their sexual behavior. A 12-step program that has been mentioned before in my column is Sexaholics Anonymous, which originated in 1979 and is based on the same principles as Alcoholics Anonymous. Its website is sa.org. Visit it to find a local meeting.
So, Abby recognized there was something unsettling about the question, but soldiered on, writing what seems like a Siri-produced response to the keyword “obsessed.”
Abby hasn’t written me asking how to revive excitement for a job she’s had for decades, but if she did, I’d tell her to take an indefinite vacation, move to the woods, eat a bunch of mushrooms, and call me in a year.