Impaired self-soothing, sexualisation and avoidant attachment: are these significant precursors to male sexual addiction?
Rowlands, David Lindsey
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Sexually addictive behaviour has become a major issue around the world with over 8% of the world’s population meeting the criteria for sexual addiction. What’s more, two thirds of those meeting this criteria are males. This modified systematic literature review discusses several perspectives of defining sexual addiction. Included within this discussion are sexual compulsivity, sexual impulsivity, sexual addiction and an integrated approach to defining sexual addiction. Three precursors relating to the development of sexual addiction in males are discussed incorporating separation-individuation theory and attachment theory. This dissertation first explores the effects impaired internalisation during the rapprochement subphase might have on the development of self-soothing strategies, and the role the transitional object could have in the development of addictive behaviour. Secondly, discussion focuses on how sexualisation may develop in young males, contending that certain family dynamics might contribute to the sexualised behaviour of this addiction. The third precursor maintains that certain attachment styles are more susceptible to sexually addictive behaviour; particularly those who are avoidantly attached. Evidence will be given demonstrating that non-intimate sexual behaviour of avoidant males is a defense against narcissistic vulnerability and intimacy. Frustration and deprivation of this early attachment failure is acted out sexually whenever feelings of intrusion or shame become overwhelming. The dissertation concludes with an integrated approach to treatment incorporating individual psychodynamic psychotherapy, group therapy and relapse prevention followed by a discussion that offers several reasons why abstinence may not be the most suitable method of treating sexual addiction.