Congratulations to Patrick Carnes, PhD, Senior Fellow and clinical architect at Gentle Path at The Meadows. He has received the prestigious 2016-2017 Fulbright - Canada - Palix Foundation award in Brain Science with additional support from The American Foundation For Addiction Research (AFAR).
Dr. Carnes now joins the ranks of the many Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer Prize winners and other distinguished scholars who have received this award. He will also serve as a Distinguished Visiting Chair at the University of Alberta in 2017.
He will use his award to conduct a groundbreaking and unprecedented research study into the genetic factors associated with sexual addiction. More than 1,000 people (500 sex addicts and 500 non-addicts) from various centers across the U.S. and Canada will take part in the study. The study seeks to answer the following questions:
A full-genome genetic analysis of all participants will be conducted via saliva specimens. Advanced statistical techniques will be used to identify the genes that are linked to various types of sexual addiction, and to link genetic patterns to psychopathology and sexual addiction type.
This study could lead to many exciting developments that would vastly improve treatment and access to treatment for those who struggle with sex addiction. It could, for example:
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Carnes and in supporting his efforts to lead us to a greater understanding of sex addiction and an improved ability to offer effective treatments for those whose lives have been shattered by the disorder.
John Bradshaw and Patrick Carnes, both Meadows Senior Fellows and renowned experts in addiction and recovery, sat down for a conversation in 2004 where they talked about sex addiction and what can be expected when recovering from it. That conversation was recorded and is now available through the Gentle Path Press Recovery Start Kit.
For the past five years, Dr. Carnes has wanted to continue that conversation. He’ll finally get his chance at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20 at the Hamill Foundation Conference Center in Houston, Texas. The two will meet again to talk more about addiction, shame and recovery in today’s world.
The talk is being hosted by The Council on Recovery and is open to everyone in the recovery community. It’s sure to be enlightening, inspirational and entertaining. You won’t want to miss it!
Finding out that your committed partner has sexually betrayed you is like: getting your heart ripped out, stomped on, thrown through a glass window, spit on, and perhaps lastly, smothered with gasoline and set on fire. Then, your partner asks you to forgive him or her; and you don't think you could ever be more furious and disgusted.
This is a common experience for the Partners of Sexual Addicts that I work with on a weekly basis at The Meadows. The stories and behaviors may be different but the underlying foundation of the damage is always Betrayal. Emotional, Physical, Sexual, and Financial betrayal is devastating and gut-wrenchingly painful for a partner who had dreams and hopes of having a healthy and committed relationship. Those dreams are now shattered and the Partner is left with the questions of "Why wasn't I enough?", "How could they do this to me?"; and "Where do I go from here?"
Sexual Addiction stems from a deep rooted intimacy and attachment disorder that often starts within childhood, teenage, or young adult years. Many of the patients I work with at The Meadows have been engaging in some type of dysfunctional, sexual fantasies, thoughts, and/or behaviors since they could remember, far before ever meeting their current partner or spouse. Sexual Addiction thrives off of Shame. Often times the addict's shame, due to their behaviors and lies, will be deflected or projected onto the partner and they are the ones that have to carry it.
Because sexuality and being sexual is so important and integral in intimate coupleships, when that is destroyed or taken outside the primary relationship, the partner has no choice but to take it personally and look at it as an attack on themselves and who they are or are not. Many spouses that I speak with will say to me, "Why wasn't I attractive enough, sexual enough, loved enough to keep him/her with me?" My message to them is: "If there is one thing I want you to learn this week, it is that this had nothing to do with what you have or have not done".
So if the partner did not cause the addiction and is not an addict themselves then why be a part of the patient's treatment and come to Family Week? I often hear from partners: "He is the sick one! He gets to go and get help and leave me here at home with the chaos and damage that he created! And now he is asking me to drop everything and come to Arizona for a week to help him?" My reply is: "Come here for YOU."
Within the Family Week program, partners are given resources and tools to start to stand on solid ground. Family Week is NOT about reconciliation, fixing the problem or hearing an excuse about why the patient acted out. The week long program is designed around boundary setting and healthy communication that allow the partner to be heard and protected.
Being betrayed will undoubtedly, for most partners, contribute to feelings of shame and worthlessness that creates a deep, dark wound within them. The Meadows and Pia Mellody define Trauma as "Anything less than nurturing". Sexual betrayal would obviously fit into this category based on the definition and many partners experience symptoms of trauma such as hypervigilance, despair, flashbacks and nightmares, among other experiences. The shame and trauma need to be addressed for the partner to start to heal that wound. Even if the partner decides to move on from that relationship he or she will continue to be plagued in life and through other relationships if not addressed.
Through my work at The Meadows, I have seen amazing growth and strength in men and women who thought that they could have never dug themselves out of the dark hole that sexual addiction created. Recovery work, for both the addict and partner, instills hope, perseverance, and self-worth that they thought they had lost. The Meadows Workshops such as Partners of Sex Addicts, Survivors, and Women's Intimacy Issues are great resources to help partners to gain awareness, understanding, and tools to help themselves and their families.
Lauren Bierman is a Family Counselor at the Meadows working with the Sex Addiction population. She is a Licensed Associate Counselor and has been trained through Patrick Carnes and IITAP's Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) program. Her passion is working with Partners of Sex Addicts in their own healing process and helping them find hope after sexual betrayal.