By Tian Dayton Ph.D., TEP
Note: This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
It is the body’s natural mandate to act; we are beings designed for movement and expression. It’s how we get around the world, communicate our feelings and thoughts, eat, sleep, cry, wail, kiss, dance and sing! We are conceived, carried, born and die all through our bodies. We feel our emotions physically; feeling, in fact, comes first. Before words enter the picture we are engaged in what Stanley Greenspan refers to as a “rich tapestry of gestures” and expressions that communicate our desires and feelings to others. Hopefully, there is a reciprocal response from another caring person so that we feel seen, heard and responded to. This is what lays down the fabric neurologically, emotionally and psychologically that maps our inner world and our capacity for intimacy, communication and connection.
These maps function both within and outside of our conscious awareness. They are part of how we learn to attach to another human being. One of the things that happen when we’re deeply distressed or frightened by less than satisfactory interactions with significant others is that we go numb inside. The child who reaches out for comfort and connection and receives instead of warmth and a friendly expression a sort of coldness, disinterest or rejection grows up feeling like a stranger in a strange land. It is as if their needs and desires are somehow invisible or inscrutable to those they depend on; or worse, that there is something wrong with having them at all.
The word “trauma” has a big ring to it. But in my own practice what I find is that the larger more visible traumas that everyone agrees are wrong or hurtful can actually be easier to treat than the constant drip, drip, drip of feeling alone in the presence of another. These emotional deficits or these empty spaces in our inner world, become a part of what we learn to expect when we look to fulfill our very human need to be intimate with another person.
Sexual Addiction As A Result of How We Learned to Connect
So when we talk of sexual addiction we need to go back into the root system of how we learned to connect and/or compensate for a feeling of disconnection— What we do to fill the empty/anxious hole inside of us.
Sexual acting out that is unconscious might be seen as both a way to self medicate unhealed, unconscious emotional and psychological pain and as a way of trying to finally get the closeness that we have longed for, for a lifetime. But as with any form of acting out, it keeps pain unconscious. Rather than feel the vulnerability and fear that accompany our desire to connect, to love and be loved, we use the excitation of the chase, the deliciousness of secrecy or the body chemicals themselves that are part of the sexual experience to override feelings of anxiety around intimacy.
Content Source The Unconscious and Sexual Acting Out