Q: Why did you decide to write It’s Not About the Sex: Moving from Isolation to Intimacy after Sexual Addiction?
Andrew Susskind: The book has been a passion project of mine based on more than twenty-five years of personal and professional experience with sex addiction. Even though we’ve learned a lot since the early ’90s, we still have a long way to go, and I continue to see a lot of suffering both in my practice and in the twelve-step rooms. My intention is to help those in recovery from sex addiction live more satisfying lives, experience love more fully and develop more meaningful and intimate connections.
Q: You state that sexual compulsivity is not about the sex – it’s actually about brokenheartedness. What do you mean?
Andrew Susskind: Brokenheartedness generally begins in childhood whether it be through neglect, physical or sexual abuse, or simply growing up in a family that didn’t know how to love one another. Every child needs to feel lovable, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes we call these ruptures examples of developmental trauma or what I call brokenheartedness.
Q: You focus on relationships as a healing element for sex addicts. What makes a relationship so vital?
Andrew Susskind: As we now know, we are biologically wired for connection. It’s not just an option—it’s a mandate for all of us to thrive. I believe that sex addiction is an intimacy problem, and long-term healing requires emotionally reliable relationships as part of the journey toward sexual and emotional sobriety.
Q: You have a chapter in your book entitled Regulating the Nervous System. How does this apply to sex addiction recovery?
Andrew Susskind: Sex addiction is a misfired attempt to regulate the nervous system. If you’re feeling heightened feelings such as rage, panic, depression or disconnection, you’ll do anything to get out of the pain. And one of those ways is through sexual acting out which fuels a cycle of dysregulation. On the other hand, feeling regulated, resilient and resourceful in your nervous system will help you feel more comfortable in your skin. Knowing when you’re regulated or dysregulated is the first step toward mind-body awareness and sustainable sexual sobriety.
Q: It sounds like you take a strengths-based approach to addiction recovery. How do the themes of Positive Psychology support people in recovery?
Andrew Susskind: I believe that past wounds need to be healed and integrated before it’s truly possible to live in the here and now—where intimacy is possible. Because the medical model of addiction looks through a lens of pathology, I feel it’s essential to take into account a future-focused, strengths-based, goal-oriented approach to long-term recovery. Positive Psychology continues to research “what makes life worth living” — subjects such as happiness, flow, gratitude, and forgiveness. In long-term recovery, it’s essential to focus on what’s going right for you just as much or more than what’s going wrong.
Q: What do you hope your readers’ take away from It’s Not About the Sex?
Andrew Susskind: Hope, perspective, self-compassion and most of all love.