|12 May 2005 @ 17:07, by Raymond Powers|
The Casanova Complex and the Women Who Love Them
Book summarized by Lynne Namka
Writer Peter Trachtenburg surveyed many men who admitted to having
affairs and came up with patterns of emptiness in men who could not be
faithful. The Casanova Complex of having affairs is more than a way
of acting sexually--it is sexual addiction where a major portion of
time the man's time is spent thinking about and pursuing sexual
activities. Trachtenburg, who says he has this disorder says, "Any
behavior that is used to anesthized pain is likely to become
addictive." The need to womanize is a disorder of the feelings
characterized by a man's compulsive and addictive--pursuit and
abandonment of women or by symbolic flight through infidelity and
The man who has sexual addiction cannot allow feeling the deep pain
within and his primary drug of choice becomes women. In this sexual
addiction, the man sees women as good and bad--Madonna's and whores.
In the chase of the new partner, he longs for the good mother. As the
relationship cools, she becomes the castrating mother. After the
chase and catch, he must discard her when the threat to himself
becomes too great as he cannot deal with intimacy. Ongoing affairs
are a pattern of conquering and manipulating women.
According to Trachtenburg, there is an underlying personality
disorder of narcissism in these men. In the early years there may
have been a devouring, nonnuturing, rejecting mother and an
ineffectual, emotionally distant father. The child's ego splits into
two parts: (1) A false self which meets the parent's approval because
the child is complaint and becomes a little adult meeting the demands
of the dysfunctional system. (2) The true self of the child gives up
and is withdrawn inward.
As the boy grows up he seeks girls and women with haste and an
intense courtship. Men with sexual addictions can be very charming,
highly romantic and are masters of instant intimacy. This instant
intimacy makes the woman feel special, singled out and valued giving
them a rush... The hurry gives the man a relationship rush. The man
needs to cement the liaison quickly as he knows that the "bloom" will
fade soon. There is emotional fusion due to sharing the erotic
excitement and the pseudo-opening of the self.
The man sets up a dependence on the woman for nurturance, acceptance
and excitement. His relationship with the primary woman (usually his
wife) in his life becomes symbiotic. He fears fusion or being sucked
into the woman. Affairs are seen as the means of escaping commitment
and the sense of being smothered and consumed by the wife. There may
be fear of his becoming femininized so he must act out sexually to
prove his masculinity. The man flees intimacy and he is frightened of
vulnerability. He is afraid of being truly himself with another human
being. He is incapable of being himself and has a damaged capacity
for connecting on a deep level in a long term relationship. Intimacy
feels like being devoured by the woman. He feels invaded, possessed.
Normal requests by the woman are seen as demands. The man must
withdraw quickly to protect his fragile ego so that he does not get
burned, leaving behind a string of broken hearts.
Mutual Complicity in the Marriage --Let's Agree This Isn't Happening
When the affairs start in a marriage, the man will often deny any
wrong doing. The system is a closed one of complicity. After the
wife initially confronts the man, she turns to not seeing the
continual infidelity as a way of coping with the truth. She
compromises herself and increases the rift of communication between
them. Silence and feelings of deep shame build and both agree to keep
the family secrets of dysfunction. Both man and wife avoid conflict
around the issue and the husband is protected by nondisclosure. There
is mutual complicity--both agree not to talk about it or turn it over
for problem solving.
There may be a policing stage on the wife's part where she tries to
monitor and check up. There may be anger at the other woman instead
of looking at the relationship realistically and see the
irresponsibility of the man. The wife may try to appease and win back
the man's flagging interest in her, but no matter what she does, she
cannot change his sexual addiction. She may revert back to childhood
roles of helplessness and powerlessness to leave the relationship.
She needs to be needed. She denies the pain of her own childhood.
She confuses her own desire for dependence and the need to be needed.
Her rescuing behaviors are merely attempts to control the situation.
Some of the children in the family pick up this pattern and then act
them out in their adult lives. Others marry partners with the sexual
acting out pattern. Sexual addiction is thus passed as a pattern to
the younger generations.
Trachtenburg spends the rest of the book describing how a man can get
out of sexual addiction through admitting his problem and making the
decision to address it by attending a 12 step program and confronting
Dr. Patrick Carnes' Resources for Sex Addiction & Recovery...
Patrick Carnes is an international authority of sexual addiction at
The Meadows, a recovery treatment center here in Arizona. The
following are a series of statements which describe traumatic bonding
in which a person bonds with an unfaithful or abusive partner on the
basis of betrayal. This unhealthy pattern is what Patrick Carnes calls
a "Betrayal Bond".
The "Betrayal Bond" Index
(Here are the first 15 of the 30 Question Quiz)
Yes No Do you obsess about people who have hurt you even through
they are long gone?
Yes No Do you continue to seek contact with people whom you know
will cause you further pain?
Yes No Do you go "overboard" to help people who have been
destructive to you?
Yes No Do you continue to be a "team" member when obviously things
are becoming destructive?
Yes No Do you continue attempts to get people to like you who are
clearly using you?
Yes No Do you trust people again and again who are proven to be
Yes No Are you unable to retreat from unhealthy relationships?
Yes No Do you try to be understood by those who clearly do not
Yes No Do you choose to stay in conflict with others when it would
cost you nothing to walk away?
Yes No Do you persist in trying to convince people that there is a
problem and they are not willing to listen?
Yes No Are you loyal to people who have betrayed you?
Yes No Do you attract untrustworthy people?
Yes No Have you kept damaging secrets about exploitation or abuse?
Yes No Do you continue contact with an abuser who acknowledges no
Yes No Do you find yourself covering up, defending, or explaining
Go the SexHelp.com to take this complete quiz on line and access
Patrick Carnes' books on The Betrayal Bond, Don't Call It Love, Out of
the Shadows--on Internet Sexual Addiction and other informative books
on sexual addiction.