Are All Sex Addicts Narcissists?

In some circles “narcissistic sex addict” has become redundant.  It almost sounds like a double put-down, and yet many sex addicts exhibit narcissistic personality traits. Often they are self-centered, ignore others’ needs and feel they should have special privileges.

Narcissism is on a continuum

At the mild end, there are narcissistic personality traits, the folks who seem a little overly impressed with themselves and who like being the center of attention.   At the extreme end, “narcissistic personality disorder” borders on the sociopathic.  These are the folks who barely know anyone else exists and couldn’t care less.  Somewhere in between are the people with what I call a “narcissistic defense system,” who are using a façade of power and self-importance to cover up deeper feelings of insecurity and low self worth.

Narcissism and sex addiction

A narcissistic defense is a brittle façade which covers feelings of being unlovable and unworthy.  This narcissistic “false self” is so common in sex addicts because they feel so deeply inadequate that they have a long-standing habit of avoiding intimacy.  Instead of getting close and trusting someone, the sex addict is essentially emotionally alone, choosing non-intimate sexual encounters instead.  Many sex addicts become progressively more isolated as their addiction progresses in what is called “relational regression,” even as they present a false picture of their own power and competence to the outside world.

Will Sex Addiction Treatment Cure Narcissism?

To a great extent, yes.  Sex addiction treatment involves a great deal of self-examination with an emphasis on learning honesty, integrity and the capacity to trust both self and others.  The same skills that help the addict recover from addiction are the skills that allow the addict to begin to behave in a more authentic and vulnerable way.  These newly learned abilities go a long way toward eliminating the need to put up a narcissistic defense.  As the sex addict gains an ability to see and accept him/herself more realistically, they will in turn be able to behave in a more trustworthy way and to connect on a deeper level with their fellow human beings.

3 Responses to “Are All Sex Addicts Narcissists?”

  1. Eduardo Sant'Anna says:

    It has been said that sex can not be an addiction as its is a biological given. I think that the article here wants to explore is the need for ‘multiple partners’ and the act of non-emotional sex. Intimacy implies a certain acquaintance of one’s partner with privileged information. Yet, it is exactly such partially wholly withheld information that buttress one’s sense of superiority, uniqueness, and mystery which, inevitably, vanish with disclosure and intimacy. Additionally, intimacy is a common and universal pursuit. It does not confer uniqueness on its seeker. When you get to know people intimate, they all seem unique to you. Personality idiosyncrasies surface with intimate acquaintances. Intimacy makes unique beings out all of us. It therefore, negates the self perceived uniqueness of the truly and exclusive unique – the narcissist. Finally, the very process of getting intimate creates (false) sensation of uniqueness. Two people getting to intimately know each other are made unique to each other. These traits of intimacy negates the narcissist’s notion of uniqueness. Intimacy may help distinguish us to our loved ones – but it also make us common and indistinguishable to others. If everybody is distinct, then no one is unique. Widespread acts of behaviors are anathema to uniqueness. Intimacy eliminates information asymmetries, obviates and demystifies. The narcissist does his damnedest to avoid intimacy. Hence multiple partners. A Narcissist is not interested in pleasuring another human being but pleasuring himself only. And most resort to masturbation or pornography to sexual, intimate acts.

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