Understanding My Sex Addiction: The Adult Self, Parent Self, And Child Self

In the late 1950s and early 1960s Dr. Eric Berne developed what is called Transitional Analysis. In this revolutionary paradigm he expounded on Sigmund Freud‘s ego states. Dr. Berne stated that the ego was made up of three persons. The adult self, the parent self, and the child self. The adult self is the grown up and is comfortable with themselves. The parent self is either nurturing or controlling. The child self is either seen as natural, the little professor, or the adoptive child. To understand more in-depth about each self please see Transactional Analysis. For the purpose of this blog I will try and keep this simple. When functioning correctly the adult self will have meaningful and healthy engagements with other adults.

This paradigm is extremely helpful to understand when dealing with sex addiction issues. Often, someone struggling with sex addiction has an underdeveloped child self and has created an adoptive child self. What we know about sex addiction is that it really isn’t about the sex. The sex is only a symptom of a much larger issue. That issue(s) typically stems for a family of origin problem where the child was never taught how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, conflict, stress, or may have never really connected with their family. Sometimes early childhood traumas can also cause an underdeveloped child self. The child learns maladaptive ways to self soothe these pains. For the sex addict they learned at an early age that sex (masturbation, porn, sex, etc.) is a way to numb the pain. So, in adulthood when the sex addict bumps up against emotional discomfort, unresolved conflict, stress, or a desire for connection their child self comes out and hijacks their adult self. The child self basically says we deal with pain by soothing ourselves through acting out sexually.

Because the sex addict has an underdeveloped child self it will cause them to enter a never-ending cycle of sex addiction. In the end, it’s all because they did not learn how to cope with pain in a healthy way as a child. The good news is with the right level of willingness for help and seeing the right trained professional the sex addict can learn how to deal with the pains of life in a healthier manner. This is just a sample of the many things a sex addict must learn to overcome their addiction. Please share this blog with anyone that would benefit from reading it or give me a call today for help.


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