Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, Volume 5, August 20, 2002


Love Sick. One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction

By Sue William Silverman
Norton; ISBN: 0-398-01957-8; 24.95 US$; 35.99 CAN$; 2001

Reviewed by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD PhD

The term ‘sexual addiction’ is controversial in this time and age. At the 2002 Annual Conference of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) a plenary panel discussion on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity evoked a lively discussion. It was argued that excessive use of sex matches other addictions related to drugs, alcohol and gambling, since the responses in the brain are so similar. Each addiction dominates your life. Yet others are uncomfortable putting a label such as ‘addict’ on someone who struggles with excessive sexual behavior.

Sue Silverman has candidly chosen the term ‘sexual addiction.’ It seems appropriate to her own vivid descriptions of a personal struggle in overcoming an uncontrollable need for sex. Silverman understood her malady as an addiction, and only by entering an in-patient treatment facility was she able to overcome her vulnerability to this overpowering preoccupation. Simultaneously, she was striving to overcome an eating disorder. Love Sick is a fascinating, if sometimes grim day-by-day description of the process of facing sexual addiction and experiencing recovery. While following Silverman on her painful journey, we also encounter other patients with similar struggles and witness their interactions, downfalls and variable outcomes.

In order to recover from her addiction, Silverman had to revisit her father’s sexual abuse of her as a child, a misfortune shared in Silverman’s earlier memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father I Remember You. Since those early experiences, she had involuntarily equated sex with love. Only through dedicated work with her therapist was she able to re-define those terms and eventually overcome her addiction to sex.

Since her recovery,  Sue Silverman has become a professional speaker on the topics of child abuse and addiction, and received an honorary degree for her work in literature and child abuse victim advocacy from Aquinas College. Her earlier book, Because I Remember Terror, Father I Remember You, won the Associated Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction. Silverman is associate editor of the literary journal Fourth Genre. Her website is www.SueWilliamSilverman.com.

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