From Publishers Weekly
We are a nation of puritanical love junkies, proclaims Cheever (My Name Is Bill
) in her inquiry into the growing scientific and psychological evidence that suggests a chemical basis for sex addiction. Drawing on a hodge-podge of addiction literature, neurobiological studies and her more informal (but most persuasive) role as a seasoned battler of her own obsessions, Cheever believes that American idealism taints our expectations of relationships: In our world, addiction to other people... is the only addiction that is applauded and embraced.... But for Cheever, a lover's destructive behavior can be just as traumatizing as that of an alcoholic, a bulimic or a compulsive gambler. Cheever is best when writing personally; her candid memories of emotionally abusive parents, repeated adultery and consuming love drive an otherwise meandering text. Her cultural subjects are titillating enough and range from the voyeurism of To Catch a Predator
to speculation that Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, struggled to hide a sex addiction. But the reader strains to connect slim narrative threads of this unstructured meditation on obsession. (Oct.)
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There is a thin line between intense passion for one’s beloved and a frantic desire to sexually possess a casual acquaintance, Cheever argues between animated exuberance that is enthusiastically encouraged and excessive behavior that lies at the outer limits of what society deems acceptable. In a provocative and deeply personal look at the least acknowledged of all addictions, Cheever examines the ways in which sexually obsessed people confuse lust with love and the damage they do to themselves and those around them as they distort affection and desire with abuse and deception. Through interviews with scholars, behaviorists, physicians, and psychiatrists, Cheever endeavors to uncover the underlying similarities between those who are sexually promiscuous and others who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Such clinical investigation, however, is secondary to the intimate revelations Cheever shares about her own troubled past and addictive behavior. She candidly chronicles her irrational love affair with a man she would ultimately marry, and addresses the subject readers will be most curious about, the overwhelming influence of her famous father’s complex sexuality and her mother’s response. --Carol Haggas