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Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 7, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, October 7, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416537929
  • ASIN: B003A02Q5O
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,574,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on September 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have known Susan Cheever - not well, but just enough to like her and be glad to see her --- for almost thirty years. We met when I was writing a New York Times Magazine profile of her father. I loved those stories, and, because I was young and naive, I did not grasp that the man who wrote them might also have invented himself. My John Cheever was a recovering alcoholic who lived in the country with a classy wife, dogs, wood fires --- the whole country squire bit.

What I did not know about John Cheever --- and what he very much feared I did --- was that he was bi-sexual, probably leaning more toward gay. Had I known this, I would never have written it, nor would the Times have published it. This was 1979, when gays were beautiful young men in discos.

Secrets run in families. Susan Cheever struck me as a talented young writer; like any number of children of the famous and troubled, she seemed to want nothing more than to do her work and have a quiet life. It seemed absolutely right that she would write a biography of Bill Wilson, the father of Alcoholics Anonymous, the program that saved her father. And I'd admire anyone who could write a book called "American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau".

So it was quite a surprise to open 'Desire'and discover this was more than a smart third-person exploration of sexual addiction. It's also a first-person account of four decades of personal trouble. Susan Cheever's parents had told her she was unattractive and would have a hard time finding a husband. She found three --- and countless lovers. "Whenever there was a crisis," she writes, "I found a man to help me take the edge off the feelings of helplessness and pain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Susan Cheever is most often mentioned as the daughter of literary great, John Cheever. However, with this book she has entered a new arena of her own. With this book, Susan has presented us with a novel that explains that sex addiction should be treated not as a failure of morality or character but as a disease of brain biochemistry resulting from a combination of genetics and life events. This is a groundbreaking effort and one that is a great read.

In 'Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction' Susan Cheever has given us an entrance into the world of all addicts and what it means to be addicted. In the end, she says," there are no easy answers. A straight look about some crooked feelings. Desire shows us the difference between the addiction that cripples our emotions, and healthy, empowering love that enhances our lives."

In this book, we learn that Susan has been an alcoholic and a sex addict. She has detailed the conversations she had with experts in neuroscience and psychology of addictive behavior. People who are addicted to alcohol, sex and drugs share common traits. Some sort of "otherworldly suspension of will" comes over addicts, and they cannot stop themselves nor do they understand at the moment the will is not there. In fact many addicts are attracted to more than one agent. Many alcoholics smoke. Food addicts who have gained so much weight they need gastric by-pass surgery, find that after losing weight they may turn to gambling, or alcohol or sex. One addiction may lead to another. A person who has a predilection to addiction, may go for years without acting out on that addiction, and then one day, bam, it has started. There is a loss of will from the activation of similar brain pathways no matter what the fix is.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author has written a very personal account concerning the not-well-understood subject of sexual addiction and how it compares with other addictions, namely alcohol, drugs, food, and gambling. The book consists largely of brief interviews with noted addiction scholars, many specializing in sexual addiction, personal accounts of those who destroyed their lives through sexual obsession, and a personal look at various periods of the author's life involving promiscuity, infidelity, and alcohol abuse.

The author amply demonstrates that sexual addicts are given to the behaviors of lying, secretiveness, broken promises, obsessiveness, self-destructiveness, remorse, and the like, much as do other addicts. Likewise, there is evidence that there are genetic predispositions to most addictions, as well as similarities in brain reactions to addictive behaviors and withdrawals across the spectrum of addictions. Though not elaborated, sexual addiction is somewhat unique in that a substance is not involved and the behavior, even copious amounts, is considered normal and essential for life. The propagation of species depends on strong sex drives.

Another factor in naming activities "addictions" is the changing social environment and tolerance for behaviors. At one time in our history, excessive use of tobacco, overeating, and drinking were hardly viewed in the same manner as today. Furthermore, the sting is taken out of the word by its use to describe intense interest in all types of activities.

Sexual addiction is extremely difficult to determine. Multiple sex partners, open marriages, and the like are hardly atypical in modern society.
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