With more women continuing to come forward and share their own stories of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct, the conversation around harassment, assault and sexism in Hollywood continues apace.
As well as shedding more light on just how widespread and serious a problem sexual harassment is across industries, it’s also highlighted another issue: sex addiction.
While it’s not confirmed that the producer suffers from the condition, and it would not in any way excuse the alleged criminal behaviour, Weinstein has said he has “begun counselling” – and one sex therapist has taken the opportunity to discuss the misconceptions around the condition.
Deborah Schiller, the director of Pine Grove’s sexual addiction treatment program in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, believes sex addiction can be “like torture” for those who have it.
“The reaction when I introduce myself and my job is, ‘Oh, that’s an addiction I wish I had, that sounds like so much fun’”, Schiller writes in an article for The Cut.
But she says that idea “couldn’t be further from the truth” – saying: “I’ve never met people who suffer more than these folks.”
Schiller believes people usually develop sex addiction as a result of trauma – but the widespread availability of porn is changing that.
“People growing up with porn get addicted right away and it becomes their lives,” Schiller explains, saying she’s met men who’ve been watching porn since they were four years old, and masturbate for six hours a day.
Sex addiction recovery can involve meditation, psychotherapy and developing communication skills.
“There’s a glitch in the brain, and the person who is born with fewer dopamine receptors than others are unable to reward themselves from within,” Schiller further explains, when discussing how sex addiction is classified as a disease.
She also says women can suffer from it, but it often manifests as “relationship compulsivity or love addiction” – and that when her clinic had both men and women in attendance, it highlighted for some male patients how their attitude to women affected the woman in question.
But Schiller is very clear about rape and sexual assault, stating unequivocally it does not classify as sex addiction: “Rape is a violent assault. It’s not about sex. It’s about dominance. It’s like beating somebody up. That’s not sex addiction.”
She adds: “Just because they’re famous and caught doesn’t mean they’re not a sex addict, but it doesn’t mean that they are.”
Weinstein has since been sacked from his own company and denies any allegations of non-consensual sex or “acts of retaliation” against those who refused alleged advances. He has said in a statement via his spokesperson that he “has begun counselling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path.”
In another statement he said: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologise for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”
Images: George Coletrain / Rex Features