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George N. Collins, MA, and his co-writer Andrew Adleman, MA, in Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession and Shame provide a guide away from the cyclic, reactive, addictive, superficial and thus unsatisfying sexual behavior.  As Collins points out in his book, “Of course it’s normal and healthy to have sexual desire and to experience sex.  But it is neither normal nor healthy for sexual desire to become all consuming.  Sexual desire should be part of a larger approach you have to life.  The goal is balance.  Interactions with partners should be about love and intimacy in addition to being about sex.” 

Collins, a former sex addict, is founder and director of Compulsion Solutions, an outpatient counseling service in the San Francisco Bay Area specializing in the treatment of men suffering from sexually compulsive behavior.  He is recognized as an expert on sexually compulsive behavior.  I find his book to be an excellent guide on ending sex addiction as it provides techniques that give intimacy to the reader’s true self and thus intimacy with others.

While Collins specializes in the counseling of sexually addictive men, his clients have included people of all sexual orientations.  For the sake of simplicity, his book is directed to heterosexual males, but as he points out, his techniques work for almost anyone.  As Collins notes, the ideas underlying his techniques can be applied with any sort of addictive behavior.  Early on, Collins points out a crucial fact about addiction, “ . . . that you can’t get enough of what won’t satisfy you! Objectifying and sexualizing people is a never-ending, negative process that yields a few minutes of excitement, a brief orgasm, then hours, days, weeks, months, and years of fear, pain, shame, self-doubt, self-criticism, judgement, and anger.”  Collins provides a collection of methods that support each other by challenging both the addiction as well as those inner voices that give rise to these negative feelings.

Collins forms the basis of his techniques as the differentiation between an individual’s true essence and the repetitive stories that the individual’s mind tells. These inner voices, or subpersonalities, Collins notes, are a normal part of the human psyche that shape the perception of oneself.  Since, however, they are not the essence of an individual’s true nature, they can be changed.  Collins quotes Eckhart Tolle, in The Power of Now, “Your mind is an instrument, a tool.  It is there to be used for a specific task, and when the task is completed, you lay it down.  As it is, I would say about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true.” Collins provides techniques for individuals to gain greater awareness of their own inner stories, giving them the ability to rewrite them.  While the utility of the mind is important to realize, Collins helps readers to set it aside and to live in the present moment.  As Collins writes, “Your real addiction is to your mind.”

Collins introduces his techniques by asking his readers to imagine themselves in the center of a personal amphitheater with the lights turned off.  The person standing in the center of the amphitheater is one’s self and the voices heard in the amphitheater telling one to check out new porn, visit a prostitute or repeat the typical addictive cycle are understood to be the addictive subpersonalities.   As Collins notes, these repetitive and dysfunctional stories and the personal behavior that results often seems automatic, but they are not.  By using the technique of having individuals “turn on the lights” in their amphitheater, identify, confront and reason with the voices, their stories and thus subpersonalities can be changed. 

Through the use of journaling and consciously directing these stories an addict begins to recognize “what’s always true,”  that one always has a choice.  By thus having individuals identify with the silent and true essence of their selves, rather than with the stories told in their mind, Collins points the way toward freedom from sex addiction.  As he writes, “When everything you do is fresh and you’re no longer living in reaction to your history, there are no preconceived notions, no story.  Your life will be different.”

While he refers to masters from Roberto Assagioli to Ken Wilber, George Collins has written a book that is, as he writes, “. . .not just based on what he read,” but based, perhaps more importantly, on his own previous experience as a sex addict as well as his successful counseling of sex addicts.  His book is well written, clearly based on deep principles, but written in a manner that anyone can pick up and make use of.  His inclusion of many techniques, from The Blonde in the Beemer: What to Do When You’re Out of Control to How Good Can You Stand It? Connecting with Yourself and Others shows that Collins understands the difficult, human process involved in breaking free from the cycle of sexual obsession. 

Through his own difficult personal experience and his later expertise in counseling Collins provides an excellent guide.  He satisfies his stated goal of helping his readers break the cycle of an unsatisfying life of sexually compulsive behavior and through the intimate connections they find with others make their life better.  Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession and Shame is highly recommended.

Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession and Shame
George N. Collins, MA with Andrew Adleman, MA
New Harbinger Publications: October 1, 2011
Paperback, 224 pages
$17.95

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APA Reference
Stoeckel, M. (2011). Breaking the Cycle: Free Yourself from Sex Addiction, Porn Obsession and Shame. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/breaking-the-cycle-free-yourself-from-sex-addiction-porn-obsession-and-shame/0009793
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
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