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How Sex Addiction Can Change Mental Illness

how sex addiction can change mental illnessI was married to a sex addict narcissist for close to 20 years. My father was a sex addict. I was a stripper many years ago and worked for many years around sex addicts. It started when I visited my father’s house on his weekend to have me after my parents’ divorce. He was at work and I was a nosy child. I found a Playboy magazine. I remember it well. Suzanne Somers was on the cover. I slowly turned each page, looking at and soaking in the beauty and perfection of these women.

My immediate thought was that these women looked nothing like my mom. They were doing things my mom would never have done. I think I was only 8 or 9 years old. In that moment, I knew in my mind, like it was complete truth, that if I grew up and became a woman like that, I would be able to keep a man.

Life dealt me some really hard cards between that moment and when I was 18 years old. I got pregnant at 16 and then went on to lose that baby when he was only four months old. After the tragedies I had already suffered, this was by far the greatest. I had no idea how to deal with such a loss. I started using drugs and I worked in a salon at the time. My drug habit grew worse and I started working in strip clubs at night to support my addiction.

At first, it felt great. All these men gave me the attention that I had never received from my own father, or from anyone, for that matter. They wanted me. They lusted after me. They would pay anything to have me. I realized how much power women had over men. Why? All because of sex.

Once I realized this, it became my mission to use men. I had already been through a divorce and I was only 18. I hated my father and I saw all men as sex-craved addicts. They were all “the enemy.”

I hate even typing these words. But, it is the truth and how I felt at the time. My father cheated on my mother, who was my greatest supporter and friend. My first husband cheated on me. Here I was, watching these married men and even pastors and priests watch me every night in the strip club.

Eventually, I left that life. Unfortunately, my mentality toward men did not change. Here I am many, many years after the fact and I have taken an internal look at my own self. Yes, my past relationships were not good. To be quite honest, I hated men. I did not trust them whatsoever. However, after a failed 20-year marriage, after working through the hurt, anger and hatred I had toward men in general and especially toward my ex, I was then able to take a good, hard look at myself.

From this perspective, I realized the pressure men face. I was able to see how much they carried on their shoulders. Not that it righted what my husband did to me at all, but it did cause me to empathize. I truly believe with everything within me that if mental health dollars were spent finding a solution for sex addiction, we would see a major difference across the board in mental health.

I think sex addiction is a struggle that is one of the hardest for men to break. It changes them completely and makes them into people they do not want to be. It ruins marriages, lives, and relationships with their children and is a significant cause of mental illness in men.

Most men secretly feel major shame about sex addiction and never talk about it. I fully believe that if we can help the men in this country and worldwide, the world as a whole will improve significantly. So many girls and women have major father wounds and are wounded greatly from the effects of being around or related to or married to a sex addict. That plays a huge part in our mental health.

I believe with all of my heart that if we can help men, we can save ourselves and our children. What will you do to change the way sex is viewed in America? It starts in your own family. When men stand up and unite for the same cause, all people will take notice.


How Sex Addiction Can Change Mental Illness

Kelley McElreath

I help people who have gone through more than their fair share of tragedies, depression, suicidal thoughts and tendencies and attempted suicides. I myself have survived a lifetime of tragedies. To name a few, I have lost two children, both parents, breast cancer, double mastectomy, chemo, two reconstruction surgeries, divorce after almost 20 years and an almost successful suicide attempt. For more information visit or write

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APA Reference
McElreath, K. (2018). How Sex Addiction Can Change Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 21 Aug 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.