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Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction Paperback – May 23, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 179 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"We recommend Patrick Carnes's Out of the Shadows...to every sex addict and codependent we treat...This (book provides) a tremendously powerful experience, helping both sex addicts and codependents realize that they are not alone and not destined to eternally be at the mercy of the disease."
--Dr. Ralph Earle and Dr. Gregory Crow, Lonely All the Time

"Out of the Shadows has become a guidebook for sufferers and counselors alike."
--Roda Salter, Keene Sentinel

About the Author

Patrick J. Carnes is a nationally-known speaker on addiction and recovery issues. He is the author of Out of the Shadows, Contrary to Love, A Gentle Path Through the 12 Steps, and Don't Call It Love. He is the clinical director for sexual disorder services at The Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona. Carnes is the editor-in-chief of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, the official journal of the National Council of Sexual Addiction/Compulsivity, an organization for which he also serves as a board member. He also serves on the national advisory board of the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hazelden; Third Edition edition (May 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568386214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568386218
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Niki Collins-queen, Author VINE VOICE on February 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Out of the Shadows" by Patrick Carnes is one of the best books on sexual addiction. Carnes says sexaholism transcend personality, gender, and socio-economic status. He defines sexual addiction as having a pathological relationship with sex and using it as a mood-altering drug. His descriptions of the symptoms, the three levels of addictions, and the progression through the four-part cycle of preoccupation, ritualization, compulsive sexual behavior and despair are excellent.

Carnes also deals with the sex addicts underlying dynamics such as a faulty self-image, and believing that sex is their most important need. Carnes describes how some addicts appear grandiose and full of exaggerated self-importance to create a front of "normalcy," and hide their addiction and poor self-esteem. He says the addict's family and friends often become angry and frustrated with the addict's "egocentricity" and insensitivity to others. Since guilt and remorse cannot be expressed the addict may become progressively more isolated and unreachable as they close off their vulnerability.

Carnes states that since the addict feels unloved and unlovable they have little confidence in the love of others and become calculating, manipulative and ruthless. They are purposely unclear about their intentions in relationship and are seductive in their behavior. Addicts also have a high need to control all situations in an effort to guarantee their sexual supply and ensure all possible sexual opportunities.

To get help Carnes recommends SA's 12 Step Program. He says the Program helps the addict to, "separate themselves as individuals from their addiction which, as a powerful illness, is destroying their lives. By admitting the addictions power, hope emerges from connecting with others and Higher Power.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good book for anyone who wants to understand the basic emotional and psychosexual dynamics of sexual addiction but the problem I did have with it was that it was written to understand the male addict. Although the dynamics from the human level are essentially the same there are some differences.
After a really harrowing relationship with a woman addict whose secretiveness and intense denial/shame of the problem translated to my being left in the dark as to it's nature I scoured the web for any information I could find. I was really confused how this woman's behavior really depressed her to the point of endless bouts of crying and yet it continued with more calculating deceit, mind games, rampant flirting with colleagues and promiscuity. Everyone involved becomes a powerless spectator in the painful ongoings. This was the most painful experience that I have gone through to date and it has really made me wary of my perception of how sex is used to sell just about everything in the US. Pity.
For guys who have been likewise involved understanding the "logic" ( if it can be called that) of the female sex/romance addict is better outlined in a book by Charlotte Davis Kasl called: "Women, Sex and Addiction - a search for love and power" a highly qualified therapist in the field. I was amazed at how every page seemed to be a prediction ( in hindsight ) of my ex's irrational and destructive behavior, motives, feelings etc., such that many of the statements made by sexually addicted women she interviewed for the book were made by my ex g.friend, verbatim.
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Format: Paperback
Patrick Carnes is a recognized authority an sexual addiction and has a very clear, direct and writing style. He has a deep understanding of his topic and he conveys it in easy to understand language without any judgmental overtones.

This specific book is intended primarily for people who are addicts or suspect they have some problems in this area. As such, it contains a lot of case histories, first person quotes and a simple approach that describes the basics underlying sex addiction. The role of shame and guilt in the addictive cycle as experienced by the person caught in the cycle sexual addiction is covered in-depth. In addition, the role of sexual addiction as a maladaptive survival strategy in response to core wounds is developed at length.

In my opinion, this is an excellent resource for people in recovery. However, one of his other books CONTRARY TO LOVE seems to be more useful for helping professionals. While this book lacks some of the detailed accounts of OUT OF THE SHADOWS it goes into much greater detail on the systems dynamics i.e. role of family, culture, etc. It is more comprehensive, but a more difficult and less personal treatment of Carnes' ideas. However, this book will also be useful to people who are further along in recovery.

Patrick Carnes has written many excellent books in this area. However, Charlotte Kasl is also an author who I feel compliments Patrick Carnes' approach. The book WOMEN, SEX and ADDICTION is particularly good and even if you are not a woman, you will find it a useful resource for understaning sexual addiction and co-dependence in general.

Patrick Carnes is a fan of Twelve Step Programs and he argues convincingly for this approach in combination with therapy.
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