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.

A BIGGER ISSUE … FROM MY PERSPECTIVE…

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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Watchfulness

A twig bounced off a rock, swirled around in the eddy a few times and then, for no obvious reason, slipped back into the current, cascaded over a few rocks, paused briefly in another eddy and was off on its downstream journey. I flicked another twig stream-ward and watched. It too swirled around in the current, sometimes moving quickly, sometimes pausing in an eddy as if to catch its breath, and then it was off in pursuit of the other. Another twig, another unique path through the labyrinth of rocks and eddies, but always yielding to the current and the inevitable downward pull of gravity.

Gravity is an odd thing – a force actually. I’m not a physicist, but, like most of you, I know that gravity is a constant in our world. It never rests, never takes time off, never seems to lose its way or sense of direction…. And it effects everything. Think for a second – where do you see gravity doing its thing right where you are? As I sipped my coffee just now, the coffee was content to stay in the bottom of the cup until I did something to change the equation – I raised the cup, tipped it, and the coffee flowed downstream. Isn’t science wonderful?

Here’s the point. We live in a world that is governed by forces that we often take for granted. We’re so accustomed to them they become….well, virtually invisible. Gravity is one of those. There’s another, but from a different realm – it works in a similar fashion to gravity in that it never rests, always seems to have a downward pull to it, and will, over time, wear us out just like gravity while we’re trudging up a steep hill.

It’s called sin, and we live under its influence continually. Like gravity, we become so accustomed to it that in many regards we cease to be aware of its impact. Or at least unaware of its subtle aspects. We’re all over its big manifestations – the behaviors of the Ariel Castro’s and Anthony Weiner’s of the world, the porn addicts and pedophiles, and so on.  We see the end results of sins’ accumulated downward pull – hijacking brains and taking hearts captive, leading souls downward into brokenness.

But there’s also a subtle, inconspicuousness to it – an insidiousness that can disguise itself and lull us into complacency. This is what we must continually be on guard against.

I work with recovering sex addicts in my private practice. Their progress is determined in part by my ability to guide them into new ways of thinking and acting. Increasing their spiritual awareness is part of that process for those so inclined. As their journey progresses – often circuitously like the twigs finding their way downstream – sobriety becomes a reality. With that, comes a sense of great accomplishment.

But too often comes a relaxation of watchfulness towards that never-ending, subtle, downward pull of sin. This is why it’s often said getting sober isn’t that difficult – staying sober is.

Keep your guard up. Be watchful, “…sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (NASB, Gen 4:7b)

A New Adventure

Welcome to an unfolding adventure. A new kind of adventure for me – the birth of a blog.  In the past blogs have always been destinations I go to; places to glean viewpoints, absorb opinions, gather information, or just enjoy another’s creativity. My hope is that in time you’ll say the same about your experience here.

But where to start.  Here I sit staring at the screen and I’m finding this isn’t as easy as I thought. How does one actually start a blog, or, perhaps, more accurately, what does one write the very first time? My mind is a kaleidoscope of  ideas…. and  some fears: am I up to the challenge of keeping this going once started, will my interests be of interest to you, will it bring you back?

Friends and family have encouraged me to write and I do enjoy the creative exercise. It helps me crystallize my thinking, and as you comment we’ll have an opportunity to exchange viewpoints – maybe change some in the process.

Naturally I have a few key areas of interest. I’m a Christian counselor. The fact that I’m a Christian is central as all I do is built upon that worldview, but don’t let that scare you away; Christianity, contrary to the way it is portrayed on TV and such, can be an all-encompassing positive influence on life.

While I counsel couples and individuals in various areas I do specialize in sexual addiction. I never planned on that being a specialty – and, in some ways, I wish it weren’t necessary to have such a specialty – but it’s having such a devastating impact on so many lives that it can’t be ignored. And during the days of my youth I had my own struggles in this area.

Occasionally I may just muse about things that are on my heart on any given day.  Maybe add some photos and cater to a latent photojournalistic urge.

The only definite is the starting date – the day I push the “publish” button for the very first time. Here goes….