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On-screen, sex addiction tends to be portrayed as glamorous, even fleetingly aspirational—either posey, broody, and existential or chaotically fun in a Warren Beatty-in-the-’70s kind of way.
Eli Coleman, a psychologist and director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota, estimates that approximately 19 million Americans—5 to 7 percent of the population—are hypersexual. "We’re all blind in this field," says UCLA neuroscientist Nicole Prause.This much is certain: More and more people are seeking treatment. In each year over the past decade, the number of groups registered with Sex Addicts Anonymous, one of the nation’s largest twelve-step organizations for sex addiction, has grown by 10 percent.Hollywood is just the latest market to capitalize on this phenomenon, even if filmmakers’ depictions tend to do more harm than good.But they haven’t had sex since June 2012, haven’t even seen each other naked (except by accident) since he told her he was a sex addict.Almost every night, they separately attend meetings or therapy.In high school, Jacob was all-state three times in cross-country; he still runs six to eight miles every day and competes at least once a month in local events.
He has broken this routine only when he’s been lost in the stupor of his addiction.
If sex is ordinarily a way of dealing with another person, then sex addiction is a way of dealing with yourself.
You act out—you can’t act out—in order to escape from unbearable feelings: depression, severe ADD, bipolar disorders, the scars of family trauma, profound despair.
Most addictions require you to extend yourself in some way—go to a particular place, spend a certain amount of money. The fuel for your disease is all around you, invading your senses. But when I ask him if he’s tired, he says no, just the opposite: "I sleep In a wedding photograph on the wall, Jacob holds hands with his wife, Ashley, on a country lane.
The poet and professor Michael Ryan captures this experience in his unsettling, mesmerizing autobiography, JACOB* IS A COMPUTER PROGRAMMER, and on the morning he greets me at the door of his and his wife’s Seattle-area apartment, he looks as though he’s been up all night wrestling with code. He smiles hesitantly, his eyes skittering off to one side.
It may also be that she’s still not sure she’s going to stay here.