Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I had a larger concept Post in mind but I have to mention a couple of items that I saw in the news this morning.

There’s an interesting article about “Sex addicts getting help, understanding”, sub-headed “Medical specialists recognize disorder”.

It describes a meeting of a self-help group of “sex addicts” meeting in a basement room furnished with an ad-hoc collection of this and that to sit on. It sort of seems like a ‘sex’ version of AA. Nothing wrong with that: the AA approach is a proven helper, although when it comes to a genuine addiction nothing is guaranteed.

Of course, alcohol-addiction, like drug addiction, is tied into the introduction of some sort of foreign substance into your system; and putting that stuff into your system adds a profoundly complex layer to the rooting of the addiction. And as is so often seen, it has what used to be called “characterological” consequences (“sequelae”, if you like the technical term): the entire personality and ‘character’ of the individual starts to deform itself in order to protect the addiction, both from others' notice and even from one’s own awareness.

The usage of term ‘addiction’ has been expanded in recent decades to include compulsions that are not tied to that complex ‘ingestion’ dynamic.

So you now have all sorts of ‘addicts’ – although as always it’s hard to know in an individual person where will-power ends and overwhelming forces beyond the human will take control.

Still, almost any help is better than no help and the AA-approach to any sort of compulsion is a big improvement over nothing at all, or over sitting down – say – with a fellow alcoholic at a bar lamenting the general cruelness and injustice of a heartless world over a beer or six.

The same is certainly true of ‘sex addiction’. Surely any derangement in so powerful a natural human drive needs to be worked on as soon as possible. The compulsive need – or ‘desire’, they use the words almost interchangeably nowadays – for some preferred form(s) of sexual stimulation can not only cost a lot of money, but can throw off the whole balance of your life’s activities (family, friends, job, and such) as well as more profoundly throw off your entire internal ‘balance’, your internal ‘economy’ as it were.

Your ‘mastery’ of your own self (although it’s not PC to use the term, from what I gather), your ability not only to conduct a life but to sustain and command (as in Master and Commander) your own self as if it were a ship with which you were entrusted … all of that is undermined. And that’s never a good thing for a human being; and if a lot of Citizens are suffering from such a problem of lack of Mastery, then it’s lethal for the Constitutional vision of The People who Ground the government.

So those are the stakes.

And with Tiger Woods and his issues all over the news, it’s not a bad time for advocates of more ‘sex addiction’ awareness to do a bit of arm-waving. And given that the new proposed DSM revisions (as the article states) are published, then so much the more reason to put the whole idea of ‘sex addiction’ back out there.

But there are problems – now – that are specific to the ‘sex addiction’ efforts in our modern American reality.

The largest is that the sex-offense mania (SO mania) has now metastasized into criminal legislation as well as profoundly inaccurate public misinformation that has been – courtesy not only of a sensationalist media and of certain advocacies with their own agendas but of a government with its own games to play – widely dispersed over a period of decades.

The end-result of which is a trip-wire danger of suddenly becoming the object of prosecutorial interest, on a lethally skewed field of action where once accused, especially if the ‘evidence’ is your ‘confession’ in a self-help group, you are pretty much done for.

It isn’t going to help if the proposed DSM ‘sex’ diagnoses – a good idea in some ways from a purely clinical point of view – are going to be used (as they most surely will be) in the criminal-justice and prosecutorial arena, either to convict or ‘merely’ civilly commit anyone so diagnosed (especially if he has already admitted it ‘in public’, in that self-help group).

It’s clinically and therapeutically accurate to say that somebody with obsessive sexual tendencies may need a range of therapeutic interventions, ranging from medication to “residential treatment” (which means you sign yourself ‘in’ somewhere, or – as I have noted – you are signed in by the State). And I wouldn’t rule out the option of some ‘talk therapy’ – maybe Cognitive-Behaviorally oriented – in order to help not simply suppress the symptoms but enhance the individual’s effective Mastery over himself.

After all, if the obsessive sexual investment is the result of some faulty channeling of one’s life energies, then those large amounts of internal energy and those personal potentials – as well as one’s personal resources out there in the world – are being taken from the self’s other and far more mature needs; a little re-directing of personal energies has to be effected, some repair to the ship’s power-paths, as it were, so that the vessel will become more capable of its missions.

The danger in the SO mania, of course, is that – let’s be honest – verrrry few of the official players (legislators, prosecutors, victim advocates, and ‘therapy providers’ however defined) are really interested primarily in the repair or enhancement of the individual’s self and life. This whole mania is based primarily on Fear, and Fear requires a Monster, and a Monster means that everybody needs ‘protection’ and that the Monster himself needs to be put away (which is really what everybody else ‘needs’ in regard to the Monster). That explains the ominous preponderance of the criminal-justice and the prosecutorial elements in sustaining the whole SO mania and conducting its daily operations.

So I support the ideas of those mentioned in the article who are trying to work with ‘sex addicts’ (although I am not sure that a purely or primarily drug-based therapy is going to lead to any sustained capability for self-Mastery). But given the legal and societal contexts created now by the decades of the SO mania, I’m not sure how these proposals can work without exposing the individuals to substantial prosecutorial vulnerability.

After all, the prosecutors can kill the two birds with the one stone and simply say that ‘he’ll get help when he’s confined’ – which is not really very true whatsoever at all. Confinement and ‘therapy’ – everybody wins. Yah.

Further, as a thought-provokingly named Dr. Kafka says, “the number of men coming for help now who have serious trouble with porn has increased greatly”. Well, if it’s child-porn then – as much as I want them to get help – they are in great danger of prosecutorial activity. And if it’s ‘regular’ porn – well, I’m glad that they’re getting some informed help in reviewing their ‘internal economy’.

But then I don’t understand Kafka’s comment that “I think this whole thing is very scary for women”. Is he saying that women find porn “scary”? I can see distasteful and even repugnant – but “scary”? And is he then talking about purely sex-porn or some form of abuse-porn and debasement-porn?

But again, this “women” element – with all due respect – strikes a certain note in the Doctor’s presentation. I am very much concerned that an obsessive reliance on porn indicates a lack of Mastery over one’s internal economy, and that if you’re losing so much energy to the ‘porn activity’ then you are b) depriving your life of a lot of its potential for wholeness and fulfillment and a) clearly not the competent Master and Commander of your own self.

That’s a big – pretty much ‘existential’ – risk. And with all respect to the ‘harm’ caused to anybody else, a person who needs help with this is a person facing the existential abyss. I'd like to think that anybody 'concerned' - especially professionally - would see that risk for the urgent and great challenge that it is. Even though such a focus upsets the 'primacy the victim' approach so favored (and with good reason) by prosecutors for the past few decades.

And after the past decades of societal ‘deconstruction’ in the service of this or that ‘revolutionary agenda’, then I’m not surprised if a lot of ‘ships’ are coming from the yards, and a lot of commanders coming from the ‘academy’ of the family – both profoundly incapable of handling the stresses and strains of open-ocean operations.

Boys and males have had a baaaad time of it the past few decades (which is odd when you figure that they, much more than females, are likely to be the victims of violent crimes – go figure).
As I’ve said in a prior DSM Post, there’s a difference between someone who has a sex fantasy and seeks to impose it upon an other and someone who – in the Doc’s term – is “totally harmless” and “simply obsessed with sex”.

The Doc here is nicely sliding around the question of the ‘imposers’ and trying to keep the focus on the “harmless” guys who are simply obsessed inside their own mind. In that vision, they just need some help with their ‘internal economy’ (to use my term).

And that’s not a bad way to look at it.

Although the way the new DSM proposals are worded, if your internal economy in any way creates any sort of ‘harm’ for ‘others’, then you may well be liable for the great SO mania adventure. Don’t forget, thanks to the ‘reforms’ in civil and criminal law in the past few decades, it’s up to the self-declared ‘victim’ to say if ‘harm’ has been done (and your lack of intention to inflict harm may not count for much at all); and the entire concept of ‘harm’ has now been hugely expanded (recall that you can “batter” somebody now simply by not saying anything in the middle of a phone call from a dozen or a thousand miles away).

As you can see, in the current legal context, even the accurate and not sensational clinical use of the term “harm” in the DSM can create typhoons of possibilities for enterprising prosecutorial minds. Or civil-damage attorneys who work for a percentage of the ‘award’. And in any case, all of the foregoing can provide sensational melodrama for news media that don’t see their job as being to deeply inform the Citizenry about the vital issues of the economy and the endless wars.

There is some accurate comment to the effect that there is a major difference between a genuine sex-obsessed sufferer and somebody who is just faking it (“malingering” in the technical term). Which is true. But it is a hard thing in therapy to make an accurate distinction between truth and falsehood, just as it is in the ‘repressed memory’ stuff.

Which creates a vacant space into which the prosecutorial enterprise is now authorized (and encouraged, and in some cases required) to flow like a Biblical flood.

And again I note that the entire conceptualization has been skewed in the SO mania: the one who ‘suffers’ is primarily the one who claims ‘victim’ status, not the person afflicted with the actual imbalance (and it may be profound) in his ‘internal economy’.

The story is told of one sufferer who was obsessed with porn and “in a dream-like state sexually-assaulted his sleeping wife”. Given the huge elastic expansion of the term ‘sexual assault’ (not to include rape and attempted rape) then I’m not sure what we’re dealing with in the story, and I’m not sure what a ‘sleeping’ person can accurately recall. Or did this gentleman ‘sexually assault’ his sleeping wife, she never woke up, and he simply reported it with admirable honesty to his therapist? If that’s the case this is an impressive patient (and there are some like that); but his very report can constitute a “confession” in the present legal context. And did the clinician-therapist report it to the authorities?

So while you as the sufferer are surely ‘self-destructive’, the SO mania skews the conception of the situation to make you out as a ‘victimizer’ and then the hounds are turned loose. Your honesty in reporting about yourself will, in that case, count for little.

(Let me say this again and again and again: I am not ‘denying’ or ‘minimizing’ genuine sexual assault. I am trying here to sketch out the pathing of perception and authority in this legal-therapeutic jungle created by the SO mania.)

So there’s a lot going on in all of these developments. If my thoughts are a bit edgy, it’s not because I am being callow or insensitive; it’s because it takes a sharp-edged tool to cut a path through the now-dense jungle growths here.

In a second ominous tidbit in the news today, it is reported that Connecticut now wants to establish an officially-authorized link between child-abuse and animal-control authorities: if the animal-control officers find an abused pet in the house, they are to report same to the child-abuse authorities; apparently on the presumption that if the pets are abused, then the children and wife (or whatever humans aside from the pet-abuser are in the house) may also be abused.

It’s not at all an impossible connection to infer. But you can see where, in the context of the SO mania, and its Registries and all the rest, this thing can quickly turn into a monster.

So there are, I think, two major problems that should receive serious public attention here. First, the expansion of government interference into the home (and let the late President Reagan’s pithy comment not be forgotten: ‘Hi, I’m from the government and I’m here to help’). Second, in the dense context of a Mania, there is every possibility that things can quickly turn from a ‘fire in a trash can’ to a full-blown, five-alarm conflagration response – to use a Fire Department image.

The huge problem of helping the sex-obsessed without the very helping exposing them to the lethal possibility of criminal action by the State has been part of the SO Mania since its inception. And even as now the clinical community is trying to sharpen its knowledge of sex-obsession in order to better help, the context of the Mania threatens to undermine their efforts.

Which may well result in there being a lot more untreated sex-obsessives in our already Maturity-undermined society, and thus a lot more substantive victimizing.

But I wonder if to certain influential elements supporting the Mania, this wouldn’t be not only an ‘acceptable consequence’ but actually also a ‘useful’ one – to keep the numbers up. It’s a dark thought, but these are times of Mania and darkness goes with the territory in such a situation.

And even so apparently minor, simple, and seemingly ‘harmless’ gambit as connecting pet-abuse and child-abuse authorities (and databases?), similar to what the government has been trying – rather clearly with largely imperfect success – to do with terrorists, and long before them, with ‘sex offenders’.

There’s a job of work here – assessing the trajectory and consequences of it all.


A larger ‘concept’ beneath all of this is: the consequences of genuinely concerned ‘victim advocacy’ casting its lot with a primarily prosecutorial, governmental control approach to helping victims and preventing victimization.

And surely, had the clearly probable consequences of ‘deconstructing’ parental authority and the family and even the very concepts of Maturity and Self-Mastery been soberly deliberated, then much of the ‘social history’ of the past three or four decades might have turned out much differently, and Constitutionally much less lethal.

I would add that the ‘governance feminism’ that saw its heyday in the 1990s made the same lethal error: the almost total submerging of genuinely feminist contributions into a collusion with ‘big government’ (especially the ominous police authority) under the aegis of some of the most radical of radical-feminist ‘theory’ has created profoundly dangerous circumstances now, for this country as a society and a culture as well as a Constitutional polity.

And as I’ve said before on this site and my other site, such ‘deconstruction’ has created levels of personal, societal, and political immaturity and incompetence so great as to almost require the government to step in as the first and almost only enforcer of ‘order’ and even ‘Shape’ among the citizenry. Thus the Regulatory-Preventive and prosecutorial police-state toward which the country is now sliding at an increasingly steep angle of descent. And it is all ‘spun’ as ‘liberal’ and as ‘reform’ and as a matter of merely expanding ‘rights’.

An ounce of prevention – by competent parents in the early years of childhood – is worth a ton of government police-authority ‘cure’ later on.

Is all of that gone forever? If so, it is not gone for good. If you get my drift.

When The People now must look to the government as not only the 'protector' but even as the first source of character and Shape - when individuals are allowed to pass through the hugely important and formative years of childhood without a sustained and competent parental authority exercised in a stable family setting - then there can be no People in the Framers' vision of the concept.

And that concept is not "quaint" - neither in terms of developmental psychology nor in terms of utterly indispensable Civic Competence.

And discarding all the elements of that concept has not been 'reform' nor has it been 'progress'. It has constituted a huge 'regression' - to use the technical term - both psychologically and politically-Constitutionally.

This cannot end well.

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