Attachment Issues & Sexuality

Blog Contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

As human beings, we have the capacity to form emotional bonds with the people in our lives, allowing us the ability to have flourishing and enjoyable relationships. This phenomenon essentially describes the basis of attachment, which is crucial to the healthy and normal development of any individual.

The earliest attachments are formed with primary caregivers in infancy. As an infant learns to trust that basic needs will be met by a caregiver, attachments will form that allow for security and trust to develop.

Causes of Attachment Problems

Lack of healthy attachments often results from neglect, abuse, or mistreatment. Failure to build normal attachments to primary care givers in childhood can result in problematic social behaviors and emotional disruptions in development.

In severe cases, attachment disorders can result from a lack of caregiver responsiveness or abandonment. One such disorder includes Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), which is characterized by introversion and withdrawal. RAD, which is a childhood disorder, is characterized by disturbed and inappropriate social boundaries and sexual or aggressive tendencies [1].

Attachment Issues Can Lead to Sexual Addiction

Individuals who struggle with attachment issues, such as RAD, may be more prone to sexual addiction disorders.

Sexual addiction may develop as:

  • A means of temporary relief from emotional dysregulation
  • Abandonment fears, or
  • Separation anxiety

A person who has suffered attachment issues as a child may constantly be seeking a behavior or substance to fill the lack of healthy relationships that could have been established in early childhood. This can result in a sexual addiction or compulsive engagement in sexual behaviors, as an individual attempts to find intimacy and security.

Treatments that Take Attachment Issues into Account

Treatment for sexual addiction or hyper sexuality should explore the possibility of attachment disorders or issues that may have occurred in early childhood. Various forms of psychotherapy can help address attachment issues, which can effectively help a person who may be struggling with sexual addiction.

In the case of Reactive Attachment Disorder, treatment options may include a combination of:

  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Parent education
  • Family counseling

These can work together to help an individual heal from the attachment issue.

It’s Possible to Heal

If you or someone you love is struggling with a sexual addiction as a result of an attachment disorder, be encouraged in knowing that you can heal and recover. Working through attachment issues can be painful, particularly as you explore and work through wounds from your early childhood.

The difficulties you may encounter throughout your recovery journey will only lead you to a greater understanding of yourself and ultimately, healing from attachment issues.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

How do you think sexual addiction is influenced by attachment issues?


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