The second Carnes task, educating sex addicts about their disease, what’s that all about? Why is it important?
Charlene: That’s very important because one of the biggest nits is, “I’m this horrible person.”, that I’ve done this, that I’ve done this to my family, that I do this to myself, or the other end of that spectrum, “This is totally normal. My father’s done it. My brother does it.” It’s cultural. Guys act out this way and it’s okay.
You have both ends of the spectrum, so part of the education piece is teaching them that there is a progression with addiction. There’s a cycle. The cycle starts from a belief system, a faulty belief system, which fuels this impaired thinking, and then that impaired thinking goes into what we call the addictive cycle. There’s a preoccupation, a ritualization, an acting out, despair and shame which then leads to unmanageability. It’s really about teaching them what the cycle is and getting them to see the cycle in themselves, which is not always an easy task, but I think the education piece is important so they can understand what’s going on with them and they could start really listening to their inner dialogue and what I call their core dialogue. They’re able to start then separating the addict from their true self and being able to have this conversation in their head basically, and they’re armed with facts now about the disease.