Sex Addiction: Ten Types of Sex

Dr. Carnes, pioneer in the field of compulsive sexual behaviours in his years of research has compiled ten types of sex comprising of behaviours, impaired thoughts rooted in pathological core beliefs of which we define today as ways to describe sex addiction. Assessment tools used today, titled the Sexual Dependency Inventory allows clinicians the ability to assess the types of acting out each individual engages in made up of a list of behavioural scales comprising of these ten types of sex. Each type has a unique ritual that becomes part of one’s sexual disorder. Each type, in its unique way solicits stimulation and arousal, the key component to the chemical release of dopamine to the brains pleasure pathways. This form of arousal is often dictated by ones arousal template, formulated by many factors of ones early development and surroundings and more importantly coupled with the individuals experience to their first sexualized exposure. Specifically for those wired for addiction, is the beginning of sexualized experiences that lay solid tracks in the neuropathways of the brain and for adolescence, research has shown us that the neuroplasticity of the brain at the early age coupled with sexual development are when these pathways are solidified in the brain. Many have experienced sexual abuse at early ages which causes them to engage in Pain Exchange Sex, specifically touching, foreplay or intercourse become subordinated to some dramatic story line that in many cases is a re-enactment of a childhood abuse experience. In this case, pain is needed to be part of the process for one to achieve arousal.

For the love addict, Fantasy Sex becomes refuge to sex addicts because other forms of acting out are simply too complicated, too risky, or simply too much effort and the best way to disassociate from reality, including relationships. The pornography industry has capitalized on this type of sex due to ones ability to remain secret, engaging in sexualized fantasies depicted in porn scripts often paired with masterbation where it becomes compulsive as the pathway is laid to self regulate and escape loneliness. This process of compulsion becomes more about the fear of rejection, fear of reality and simply the reduction of anxiety. Many addicts report not being able to fall asleep with out exposing oneself to porn coupled with masterbation just like the alcoholic who drinks to seek relief.

Another type of sex, Voyeuristic Sex is rooted in the use of visual stimulation to allow one to escape in obsessive trance, voyeurs are also non-participants in this pathological game as they move beyond fantasy to searching out sexual objects in the real world. It is a normal human process to enjoy looking at others sexually and experiencing attraction, but when escaping into obsessive trance while looking at people who do not know they are being viewed becomes problematic. The porn industry allows for this which is part of the addicts ritual of isolation. Voyeurism in many cases means objectifying the other person so it is not a personal relationship, allowing for arousal and stimulation without securing attachment.

Exhibitionistic Sex is a type where one attracts another to body or sexual parts of the body. In this form of acting out, sexual arousal stems from reaction of the viewer whether it be shock or interest. Here the addict becomes fixated on just being noticed and has difficulty moving beyond that. Eroticism for this type is about being looked at and noticed. The chemical release is often in the realization that they have captured the other’s attention coupled with often the pleasure of breaking the rules.

Seductive Role Sex is simply about seduction of partners, in this process arousal is based on conquest and diminishes rapidly after initial contact. Flirtation, performance and romance are the erotic key elements for sex addicts that assess in this category. They are obsessed in the “falling in love” and winning attention from the other as a chemical release. Another common scenario is to set up a situation to feel trapped, here they cannot be themselves so they have multiple relationships in which they can be different with different people, soliciting the addicts duality like personality and seducing manipulation. They often have a hard time being true to themselves and in reality or individuating, often there lies the fear of abandonment justifying having more than one relationship as a way to prevent the hurt they are sure to receive as dictated from past relationships. This hinders any opportunity to form lasting bonds and enduring relationships.

Paying for Sex is simply about purchasing of sexual services where arousal is more connected to the payment and slowly evolves to the money itself. Commitment to and renewal of relationships are profoundly undermined by the secret life of this particular behaviour. Those who engage in paying for sex commercially are often looking to secure attachment without the risk of intimacy and vulnerability, the idea of “I don’t have to know you and you don’t have to know me” depicts this complete lack of true intimacy.

Trading Sex is about selling or bartering sex for purposes of power. In this process, arousal is based on gaining control by using sex, often simply ones body as leverage. In this case, the replication of childhood sexual abuse where child gained power in a risky game of being sexual with the caregiver often has this type of sex play itself out. This eliminated any possibility to forge significant, enduring bonds or even being true to oneself as in individuation is not at all part of this toxic game.

Intrusive Sex is solely about a boundary violation without discovery, here sexual arousal occurs when one violates another’s boundaries with no repercussions. This is the use of others to stimulate sexual arousal with little chance of being caught. In this behaviour, an implicit anger exists and they “steal” sex justifying the belief that no one would respond as they wish, they are masters in their subterfuge.

Anonymous Sex involves high-risk sex with unknown partners, arousal stimulation involves no seduction or cost and is immediate, just like the addicts need for instant gratification.

Exploitive Sex is simply about exploiting the vulnerable, most common in what the media depicts of high profile individuals in positions of power using forms of manipulation to possess something the vulnerable type wants or needs and uses power to attain sexual behaviours in exchange of another service. In workplaces where there is a power differential, many employees can be vulnerable of exploitation. Addicts in this behaviour will use “grooming” behaviour which is carefully and strategically built on trust of the unsuspecting victim. So attraction, flirtation, demonstration, romance and intimacy are all used to gain the confidence of the person for sexual exploitation.

Mike Quarress CSAT

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