This week the Ten Things I Hate about Your Addiction series continues with a look at apathy.
For those of you who might be new to the series, to date we’ve looked at how sex addiction frequently goes hand-in-hand with:
- lying/hiding and anger (part 1)
- fear and cowardice (part 2)
- hypocrisy (part 3)
- cruelty and violence (part 4)
That’s not to say that every male sex addict exhibits all of these traits. It’s also not to say, that the 10 things I will cover off are going to be the only poisonous traits a sex addict may exhibit. However, these are some of the more common traps that those who are habitually acting out frequently fall into.
I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. – John 8:34
Many addicts display a frustrating lack of interest in life: their own life, the family’s life and others’ lives. Examples of the first include:
- Not taking good care of their own physical wellbeing (including diet, hygiene, health care)
- Not seeing projects through to completion
- Setting low goals for themselves – beneath their own capabilities
Within the family unit they commonly:
- Don’t listen well to others as they share (i.e. don’t stay present)
- Don’t initiate relational connection or activities
- Don’t participate in planned family activities
- Withdraw frequently
- Show little interest in household/family concerns
- Don’t take a fair share of the burden of childraising and household management
Moreover, they often complain bitterly when they are asked to do more for themselves or others. The result? An extremely frustrated, overworked and under-supported wife.
The brain chemical most associated with motivation is dopamine. Sex addiction, like all addictions, hijacks the brain’s ability to use and produce dopamine efficiently. Without sufficient dopamine it becomes difficult to find the motivation to do such daily tasks as getting out of bed, going to work, caring for our children, etc. In other words — we become apathetic.
In a recent interview with Dr. Pieter Rossouw, a neuro-psychotherapist at the University of Queensland (Australia) about addiction and the brain, Dr. Rossouw said that in porn users, porn very quickly becomes the only route to dopamine. Thus, the joy and motivation we should find in our intimate relationships dries up and disappears when using porn regularly. Those relationships no longer draw the addict and he stops pursuing them. “Them,” of course is us, our children and God.
Those of you who watched the interview with Dr. William Struthers I linked to last week will know that there is, however, hope for healing. Sex addiction therapists frequently talk about the need to go “drug free” (i.e. without acting out) for 45 days in order to heal the worst of the damage to the brain’s addiction-rewired neural pathways.
Paula Hall, the leading expert on sex addiction in the U.K. gives an excellent explanation of that process in this short video (one that my husband and I often ask sex addicts to watch).
The apathy won’t, of course, magically evaporate in 45 days. However, in a well-supported healing process you can expect to see signs of motivation — and interest in life — returning as time goes on.
Next week I’ll wind up this series with a look at pride and narcissism.
In the coming weeks I’d like to do a “Ask the Experts” post. In preparation for this post, I’d like you to send in your toughest questions for the sex addiction therapists and partner trauma specialists and I will route them to experts on the IACSAS (International Association of Sex Addicts) board. This post will also be used as a blog post on the IACSAS site.
More from the UK — my "favourite" indy band, Rivers & Robots