Harvey Weinstein: Addict or Offender

Is Harvey Weinstein a sex addict? Presumably he’s comfortable with the designation as he has reportedly checked himself into a rehab facility to be cured of it. But is he a sex addict or something different?

Based on what I’ve read and heard in the media and my years of working with sex addiction here in the Northwest, I’d say, “Not”, and here’s why.

Sex addicts typically are aware that they have a problem, and they experience great remorse and shame when they act out. They hate it! Time and time again, they swear that this will not happen again! But time and time again, they find themselves back at the trough, indulging themselves for that exhilarating dopamine rush which acts like a drug to deaden their underlying pain and unease with life as they are experiencing it. Unfortunately, that becomes harder and harder to achieve as tolerance for their method of acting out increases. That means they are most likely pulling back from life-at first in subtle ways, but eventually by isolating and avoiding on a grander scale: absent from the family, missing work, not willing to account for their time away from home or work, spending money secretively through hidden accounts and on it goes. Their behaviors are remarkably self-centered, self-indulgent, and often manipulative. Intimacy and empathy are vague concepts that have little or no practical standing in their lives. But, one thing that can be said is that what they do is generally consensual – whether that is sex with self or some sort of consensual arrangement through chat rooms, prostitutes, sexting and so on.

There are others who may resemble sex addicts, but the over-arching aspect of their behaviors is total disregard for the feelings and well-being of those they attack and victimize. Often – and this seems to ring true for Weinstein – they are wealthy, prestigious people who use their power and influence to take what they want with no regard for their prey, which is typically how they view them. There is no pretense of consensuality.  They are always on the hunt, looking for that opportunity to score and then move to the next. They think differently; their view of life is run by a different set of guidelines. No remorse. No shame. A malignant narcissism would be a reasonable call.  Because of this, recovery is very difficult. Those who fit this characterization are known as sexual offenders or sexual predators. They break laws, they disregard ethics and they violate  moral standards. This seems to more accurately fit Weinstein – again, based on what I’ve seen in the media.


The distinction between addict and offender may not be all that important to you. I get that. As a counselor I have to be able to make that call. But here’s something I think is important. Sexual sin of any kind is deeply hurtful to anyone who indulges. It’s like a cancer that not only effects the person, but to some degree all those in that person’s sphere of influence.  Fortunately, we have a God whose grace is bigger than any sin and who wants to see all set free from the sin which so easily entangles. Addict or offender God wants to see them in the Kingdom. His arms are open to all who repent. So rather than condemn them (God’s ultimate call anyway), perhaps extend grace and pray for them.


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