The Phrase ‘Sex Addict’ as a Tool of Bullies

From 1970 until he died a few years ago I had a friend named Bill who required some getting used to in the visual encounter department.   Bill, Gale and I were part of a coffee-klatch at the University of Texas Chuckwagon.  They’d both been recently released from the military, both were Russian majors, so I suppose Bill was the instrument for my becoming acquainted with Gale, who owns this place and lives through the woods half-mile from me.

Bill wasn’t an easy man to look at.  He weighed around 250 pounds, had a huge head, eyes that didn’t look in precisely the same directions, kinky hair and teeth with a lot of distance between them.  But he was a fine, intelligent person.  Unfortunately for him, Bill also spoke with a stutter.  He was acutely, uncomfortably aware of his appearance.

At the time I met him Bill had never had sex with a woman who wasn’t a prostitute, and he confided once he never expected to.  A profoundly unhappy man whom I spent countless hours with trying to help persuade him away from suicide.  Every month or two I’d ride with him to the Chicken Ranch, the famous Texas whorehouse, and wait, chatting with the girls while he took care of his needs.  For me, one of the outcomes of those visits was the magazine article shown here:  Vietcong Seductress, et al.  For Bill the visits only provided temporary, but necessary relief.

Around the time he got his bachelors degree Bill found a woman who had a few problems of her own, and who was evidently able to see beneath his exterior into the fine human being he was.  They were eventually married and seemingly enjoyed a happy enough life.  Still, Bill and I remained close friends, talking on the phone several times a week.

One day Bill came to see me sometime in the mid-1980s with something weighing him down.  We talked a while before he confided to me that he was a ‘sex addict’.

“What the hell is a sex addict, Bill?”

He explained the concept to me, as it had been explained to him by his wife, along with various pamphlets of the feminist genre describing it in loving detail.  “I never knew this about myself,” he explained, carrying more guilt and self-remorse than I’d seen since he became a married man.

“Have you talked to a doctor about it?”

“I talked to [a mutual friend who was a psychologist].   He just laughed me off and said there’s no such thing as a sex addict.”

This brought a frown from me.  Our bud the psychologist was a pro.  If sex addiction existed, he’d know about it, and if Bill had a problem he wanted to talk about he wouldn’t brush him off.  “Did you talk to him in any detail about what makes you think you’re a sex addict?”

Bill just shrugged and stared at the floor.   “Yeah.  He said it’s just normal.  He said I’m the same as almost every other man.”

Not too long afterward Bill adopted the religious preference of his wife,  Anglican.  He became a deacon, and something of a zealot.  But he carried his guilt and his conviction he was a sex addict with him, probably to the grave.  And frankly, I never believed a word of it.

Bill had described enough of his sexual needs and practices to me over the years to convince me if he was a sex addict, so was I.  I tended to agree with our psychologist friend more than I agreed with Bill, his wife, or the feminist pamphlets where the concept was invented.

Recently The Honest Courtesan, a retired prostitute has had a couple of articles and discussions about the subject in her blog.  Not An Addiction, and Neither Addiction nor Epidemic examine the subject of the concept of sex addiction and what’s behind it in loving detail.

My general thought is that this wouldn’t work on most men.  It would require one such as Bill, a man already inclined to guilt and one already decided to let others define right and wrong for him.  Most men, I believe, would simply get a mistress or pick up a lady in a bar somewhere.  A lady who measured the sexual desires and needs of the normal man as normal.

He’ll be something else then, a ‘cheater’, and she’ll be the ‘other woman’.

And that’s normal too when terms such as ‘sex addict’ become a replacement part for ‘too tired’, or ‘I’ve got a headache’.

Old Jules

19 responses to “The Phrase ‘Sex Addict’ as a Tool of Bullies

  1. Hello there Jules,

    I am not a pro but my wife is and I do not know who was your professional advice giver on the subject. But my references do not agree with your professional friends since there is such a thing as a sex addict, and the definition may not agree probably with Bill’s wife take on the subject she may have nothing more than a religious prude whose take on sex was that it was only an act of procreation. Having said that if Bill were actually a sex addict you and Gale would have realized that long before Bill met his wife!

    So cheers to you and your support of Bill!

    • leanpower: I don’t know much about the subject of male sexual behavior other than my own inclinations. If I had to trust someone to know about it I suppose I’d defer to a retired prostitute such as the Honest Courtessan link over any psychology grad, simply because I think a call girl probably has as broad a base of experience with male sexuality as any consortium of psychologists. But that’s just guesswork on my part. I’m not an expert, and you and I agree psychologists don’t agree. Maybe neither do prostitutes. Thanks for the visit. Jules

  2. Great post Jules, great video too, that guitar Buck is playing looks like it may be a Gibson J200 or similar with either a neck and headstock from a Fender Strat or a Gibson Neck and Fender Strat headstock, can’t tell by looking at a video w/o hands on. I really don’t know if Fender was making any acoustic guitars back then (they do now), I don’t think they were, the point is, that guitar is worth a TON of money if it still exists, those old Country pickers don’t get near enough credit for their experiments and contributions to electric American Music, they brought just as much to the table as a Jimi Hendrix did in that regard. Does it really get much better than Buck or Merle? Probably they are the reason God allowed Bakersfield to exist at all. God is a lot kinder than I would be ;-). There are some rare instances of men with sex addiction, kind of like male nymphomania where the guy is like a horny poodle looking for anything he can mount from a keyhole to a knothole, don’t know if it’s related to priapusism (not sure of the word for long term erections condition) but it is very rare. That said it does not happen enough to invalidate your premise at all….”That’s ALL you ever think of!” usually said in the middle of one’s enduring a 6 month dry spell….. by Fatima….after her melting down the plastic credit card into several little gobs of lumps on a shopping spree…..

  3. Sorry Jules. I’m giving this – and especially the referenced blog post from, not a doctor or a psychologiest – but a hooker, a giant FAIL. In other words, bullshit.

    I was diagnosed by a professional psychologist as a sex addict. I went into a 12 step recovery program, and my ‘friends’ there were recovering people. I eventually left SAA because I didn’t believe that “once an addict, always an addict”. I went into a different sort of recovery program for addictions, one led by a Zen Master, a clinicial doctor, and a Bodhisattva. I recovered 100%

    Perhaps your hooker blogger friend has never talked to a guy who masturbated so much, and so compulsively, that he did physical damage to himself. Who, at the ‘height’ of his sobriety (he also had used prostitutes and a lot of anonymous sex), after destroying his family, his finances, and his career from feeding his habit, was so desperate for relief that he told me that he held a shotgun up to his mouth and came damn close to pulling the trigger.

    My friends that were recovering were good people, who had such a demon on their back that – like any hardcore addict – they damned the consequences to feed it.

    Just talk to a woman whose husband is so involved in using pornography, he’s impotent with her, has gone through the family savings to buy his drug, lost his job because he was cruising the net at work, and locks himself away for hours – neglecting her and the children – to participate in his addiction.

    I could go on here, but unless your hooker friend has spent months and years with recovering sex addicts, supporting them through their struggles, helping them kick their drug of choice, and trying to help keep them from killing themselves out of complete abject shame, fear and hopelessness…well…’nuff said by me.

    • Hi Janese: Thanks for coming by and offering your experiences and observations. I suppose there are as many ways for human beings to view all this as there are humans. I’ve no doubt everything you’ve said about your own experience are true and your observations are true within the limits of your experience. I’ve also no doubt what the ‘Honest Courtessan’ says are her experience is true, along with her observations.

      In this sense, it’s how you and the prostitute are similar insofar as basing what you’ve concluded on personal experience, whereas psychologists almost universally have a far more narrow range of personal experience to draw from. They base their ‘beliefs’ on the testimonies of other psychologists, along with a tiny pool of personal encounter.

      Which, in my worldview, gives a lot of power to your words and her words, and zilch to the words of professional psychologists. I don’t mind your thinking this post is a FAIL. I haven’t walked a mile in your moccasins. I’m sure you’re sincere and believe you are correct. Likely you are correct within your own range of experience. Gracias, Jules

  4. Preserve this post in amber for those scientists who still exist, out there, somewhere.

  5. The human mind is so complicated and full of suffering Jules, no matter how we put it, when it comes to unresolved dilemmas we feel pain. We could describe friends who suffer for theyr sense of guilt, or friends who suffer for sex abuse for ages. The point is: where are we going? We go to places that sooner or later we must visit, it’s built inside of us. It’s a lonely trip. I am on my trip away from myself Jules, the only thing I know is that I can’t avoid it. Take care you all fellow humans in the maze. 🙂

  6. Anita: I wish you whatever journey you wish for yourself. Thanks for the visit. Jules

  7. Indeed, guilt can make us do and think the worse things possible, even when these pertain to ourselves. I believe Bill’s guilt made him more susceptible to give credence to something that more than likely was not the case. Sadly, guilt always makes us a target of bad things.

  8. Jules, thanks for the moving testimonial. Though at times I have considered myself to be an addict, after reading about others it seems that there are varying degrees. Kind of like my alcohol consumption, I can do it everyday or take breaks for weeks at a time. Guess maybe this just makes me normal,huh? keep up the wonderful down-home writing, Grant

  9. In my own limited experience, it seems to me there are addictions for all sorts of human activity. However, it also seems to me most addicts are actually suffering from something even worse underneath that addiction. I’m not a fan of 12-step at all, since it seems to have caused as many new problems as it has solved old ones. But I’m a fan of this post of yours, at least.

    • Ed: Thanks. I’m honestly not sure what it takes to cure people. I don’t even know how they could get through this life easier, nor better than they do. For me it was gratitude affirmations every day that changed everything and allowed me to get on with my life in being the sort of person I want to be. But if some want 12 steps, and others want to be addicted to something new to leave the old ones behind I can’t raise the gumption to think they’re necessarily wrong. I’m grateful for your visit. Jules

  10. This post made me sad. I had a good friend die from cancer, we were close growing up. His wife was also a good friend. I learned a lesson from them. When he was healthy he wanted to have sex more often than she did so when he was sick she wished they could and they couldn’t. I don’t want that regret. Sometimes sex is inconvenient but like lots of activities if you surrender to it you’ll have a good time in spite of yourself.

    I don’t like that word addict unless it pertains to breathing, I’m addicted to that.

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