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4.4 out of 5 stars
Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2004
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. I was aware from her intense denial of there being an [obvious] problem ( by her asserting that it was "in my head" or that my finding that there was a problem to discuss was itself, THE problem) that she did not read these books ( and indignantly would not when I offered.)
The bottom line for the addict is that because of the intense feelings of shame that perpetuate the problem and the need to cover up the problem from self and others, through paradoxically/ritualistically engaging in more of the same painful thing, such books are only helpful if the 'sufferer' is absolutely ready to face and rid oneself of it. However for those who are coaddicts and want to understand what they are going through they are helpful especially to recognize that there is nothing wrong with you and you ( nor your liaison) are to blame. If you love the addicted one then through these books one readily sees that the problem is not the person but the behavior which can be changed with time and effort. Painful stuff. Good luck to all..
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
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. Overall, he comes across as optimistic, encouraging, empathetic and practical. Much of his work has been with men, but based on my knowledge he has a deep understanding of sexual addiction and co-dependency in general.

Patrick Carnes has also written many other books on related topics such as pornography addiction, online sex addictions and breaking free from addictive or co-dependent relationships. The BETRAYAL BOND is an example of a book on this latter topic. All of his stuff is good, but various books have a different tone because of the different audiences addressed and where Carnes' was at in his thinking at the time that he wrote them. I honestly prefer CONTRARY TO LOVE to this book, but that is because I am a psychology professional and not someone looking for more detail from the inside.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Overall, this is a quality book that explains sexual addiction and shows sympathy for the addict without ignoring the plight of the victim. The research is scholarly and documented, but the book is accessible for the average person.

Although there are parts of the book designed to help sex addicts, it is not primarily a therapy book. It does not contain various exercises to help the addict, instead, it refers addicts to the available 12 step programs, which are invaluable.

Its value is helping the sex addict recognize who he is, and that he is not alone in his struggle.

I do not agree with all of his assumptions, including that masturbation is morally neutral. Furthermore, some of the descriptions of sexual acts may arouse some addicts, but there may be no way to fully avoid this problem.

Take what you like, ignore the rest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This book really was packed with information on a topic that is not really discussed much in our culture and yet is an extremely serious problem. I hope more people read this book so they understand the dynamics and cycles of addiciton. Until there is more unstandanding, this disorder will not be recognized as a true disease that has roots in family dsyfunction and trauma.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I felt this book was a very good book, giving insight into the mind of the sex addict. It was at times difficult because as a partner of one, it opened my eyes to the potential of where this addiction could lead to. It provided some understanding as to how a person arrives here and some of the methods, including the 12-step program approach to recovery.
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on November 5, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
If you think you have any though that you have a sexual addiction, read this book. I found myself in a lot of situations inside this book. It was a great help to understand me and why I have been doing things for years.
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on October 30, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The book describes in great detail what true addiction to sex really is, and why it exists in today's society. It also offers solutions to the suffering addicts as well.
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on October 29, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Very, very good book for those who are struggling with sexual addiction whether their own or a partners betrayal. Takes a different approach then normal. Highly recommended.
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on October 2, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The book has a lot of information, that gave me a short education in understanding this addiction which helps me to minister to people suffering with this type of addiction.
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on March 22, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Serious analysis and guide. Gave me clues about adiction and codependency. Easy reading and understanding. Invites to reflection and change.
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