Your Elected Officials

Posted on August 1, 2013


What a great week for taking a look at sexual addiction criteria.  Let me start by saying that some of these elected officials have denied the behaviors of which they stand accused.  In those cases, we would have to say that their activities were alleged.  In other situations, the office holders have admitted the facts of the situation.  This post is not about politics (these guys aren’t all even from the same political party).  It is about recognizing that one’s sexual behavior is problematic.  I am not an expert on any of these cases, but have had specialized training for treating sexual addiction.  Further, it would not be appropriate for me to diagnose someone I have not seen as a client.  So let me put the criteria out there and you can decide.  Here are some recent cases.

Here in San Diego, the allegations of sexual harassment leveled against Mayor Bob Filner have been top news.  On July 11, Filner made the statements, “I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me,” and “I am also humbled to admit that I need help.”  Within a day or so following, he was denying the allegations and asking for due process.  As of this writing, the word is that Filner will be going into a two week intensive therapy program.  Further, Filner’s attorney has asserted that the City of San Diego has failed to meet its legal obligation to provide sexual harassment training.

Former Rep. (and current mayoral candidate) Anthony Weiner of New York has admitted to “several inappropriate” relationships with six women over three years.  Primarily what seems to keep getting Weiner into the spotlight is sending “inappropriate” photos of himself to young women in other parts of the country.

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was recently elected to the House of Representatives.  In June 2009, Sanford made headlines when he had disappeared for several days.  Initially, the story was that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  It was later revealed that Sanford, a married man, had flown to Argentina to see his “soul mate.”

Not everyone who acts out sexually (e.g. pornography, affairs, etc.) is a sex addict.  So let’s look at the criteria.  You need only meet three of the criteria for the diagnosis.  See which of these appear to apply to which situation.

  • Loss of Control – Often indicated by a pattern of one doing more than one intended to do or wanted to do.
  • Compulsive Behavior – The pattern has become out of control over a period of time.
  • Efforts to Stop – Attempts to stop the behavior have failed.
  • Loss of Time – significant amounts of time are lost either doing or recovering from the behavior.  We sometimes speak of “real time” vs. “addict time.”  Often the one acting out loses track of time while engaged in the behavior.
  • Preoccupation – The behavior becomes an obsession to where one is spending increasing time thinking about acting out or making plans for acting out.  It becomes the obsession that is “driving the bus.”
  • Failure to Fulfill Obligations – Acting out sexually begins to interfere with other areas of life (work, school, family, and friends).  It becomes difficult to fulfill obligations.
  • Continuation Despite Consequences – Common to most addictions is that the behavior continues in spite of the problems encountered as a result of the behavior.  Problems may include social, legal, financial, physical, and career problems.
  • Escalation – Just as tolerance is an indicator of alcohol dependence, sexual addiction often is characterized by behavior becoming more intense, more frequent, or more risky.
  • Losses – “Losing, limiting, or sacrificing valued parts of life such as hobbies, family, relationships, and work” (Carnes, 2012).
  • Withdrawal – Similar to substance dependence; “stopping behavior causes distress, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, or physical discomfort” (Carnes, 2012).

How did our guys do?  More importantly, how did you do?  If your sexual behavior has created problems in your life, it would be a good idea to find a therapist with CSAT (Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist) training and get some support.  In the Alcoholics Anonymous tradition, there is the idea of “hitting bottom.”  This is the point where one realizes that life has become unmanageable because of alcohol.  Sex addiction can be quite similar.  Sometimes you need to hit bottom before you get help.  In all of the cases above, at the very least we can acknowledge that the sexual behavior had significant (and painful) consequences impacting career, relationships, and reputation.  From porn to affairs to prostitutes to online relationships, if there is sexual behavior that you have hidden from your partner, there will come a time when it will be discovered and a crisis will result.  If any of this is kicking up the anxiety, that might be a message that it is time to get help and get healthy.



Carnes, P. (2012). Certified sex addiction therapist CSAT: Module 1 training manual. Carefree, AZ: International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals.