Exploring the Links Between Attachment Style and Porn or Sex Addiction

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Manage episode 247042685 series 1423957
By Caleb & Verlynda Simonyi-Gindele and Verlynda Simonyi-Gindele. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
When you’re working through recovery from something like porn or sex addiction, depending on how deeply rooted that addiction is, it forces you to confront a number of different dynamics in all aspects of your life. Many people who do this difficult healing work are a blessing to others because they’re forced to face down so many issues, as often they have experienced a great deal of personal transformation. One of the important areas we look at in our therapy with those struggling with these addictions is attachment, something that we went into in detail back in episodes 251 to 254. Attachment Calls Out the Blame Game One of the unfortunate impacts of porn and sex addiction in marriage is that the addict often resorts to blaming tactics to defend or minimize the addiction. Of course, this is very hard on the spouse of the addict but when we understand the role of attachment in this sort of addiction, it helps us understand more of what is happening which in turn helps to push back on this blame game that gets played. A few on the other. The more a person was comfortable with interpersonal relationships, the more the draw of his fantasies would diminish[1]. (e.g., genuine engagement scholars talk about the relationship between attachment style and sex or porn addiction. Leeds (1999, cited in Zapf et al., 2008) thought that an addict’s attachment style lived in tension between fantasy on one hand and genuine interpersonal relationships and connection and intimacy in marriage). It’s easy to see how someone is drawn towards fantasy based on their own attachment difficulties. The father of attachment, John Bowlby, did not speak to sex addiction and attachment specifically, but he did point out that our individual assumptions about how we view others and ourselves are most significant in our closest relationships. This includes how comfortable a person is with being close to another person: indeed, much of attachment is about the intermittent effort to create closeness[2]. Thus, when you have an addiction like this occurring in a marriage, the addicted spouse is attempting to experience that closeness in a fantasy-based experience rather than in the context of a real, tangible, marriage bond. Again, you see that the attachment needs are there but they are pointed in the wrong direction. Attachment difficulties are very common in people with sex addiction. A 2008 study (by Zapf et al.) showed that over 80% of the sex-addicted participants were characterized by attachment styles other than secure attachment[3]. Nearly half were of the fearful avoidant or disorganized attachment style where there’s a real longing for connection but a great fear of it as well, compounded by the shame-based concern of being really seen. You can see how pornography or sex addiction is an attempt to fit in the missing piece of that attachment puzzle. Pornography Deteriorates Attachment The problems of sex and pornography addiction are closely linked to difficulties in forming a close connection to one’s spouse. The research is beginning to show that individuals with sex addiction or pornography use have trouble forming close attachment to their spouse. Patrick Carnes, the grandfather of the whole sex addiction recovery movement conceptualized it as primarily a relationally oriented problem. Leedes (1999) wrote, “although the inability to form close attachments may not be sufficient to explain the etiology [source] of sexual addiction, it is a necessary component” (p. 218)[4]. Weinsten (2015) further notes that the acting out behaviours of sex addiction and compulsive pornography use are characterized by sexual activity minus emotional connection[5]. That is why you see these maladaptive attachment styles at play whenever you witness sexual compulsivity[6]. The acting out associated with these addictive patterns is like an attempt to gain intimacy, but without the emotional connection that comes with real intimacy with one’s ...

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