of low libido is excessive sexual need. The judgement of 'excessive'
is subjective and it will vary from person to person, from culture
to culture. However, there are some clear ways to gauge if
addiction, as such, is present.
First, a brief word on
the nature of addiction. Some people are naturally more prone
to addiction than others and it's possible to be addicted to almost
anything, not only 'bad' things. Sex and love are highly desirable
and positive gifts, and yet many, many addicts are hooked on these
rather than on drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. Love/sex addiction
is just as destructive to quality of life and, because of its nature,
far more subtle and therefore difficult to see. It is always
the addiction that causes the problem, not the substance or the
person or the activity. Alcohol, gambling, sex are all fine
in their right perspective. It's only when they get out of
hand that they become problems.
The two characteristics
of addictive behaviour are when we need a certain behaviour, person
or thing to make us feel good about ourselves, and when we no longer
have a choice in whether we do it or have it. If the addiction
controls us, rather than the other way round, we think about it,
do it, need it to the exclusion of everything else.
When clients, and students,
ask me how to tell if they're sex-addicted or if they simply like
a lot of sex, the answer is clear they're addicted if they
only feel valuable when they're having sex, and if they can't stop
thinking about it and/or doing it to the point where they're out
of control. For example, one woman told me she'd lost her
job because she thought about sex all the time. I think it
would be fair to say she was a sex addict!
The 'cure' is the same
for all addictions. You have to look at why you're addicted
in the first place. When you fix yourself, your addiction
will naturally moderate and become manageable. I always thought
I was not an addictive personality because I've always been able
to smoke and drink at will, but I became addicted to work and to
stress over the years. Maybe we're all capable of addiction,
but it shows up in different areas of life for different people.
When I realised my addictions were literally making me sick, I made
a conscious decision to change my habits, and it worked but
only after I changed my attitudes and many of my belief systems,
such as those pertaining to ideas about work and my self-worth.