Jesse James, the latest in a string of celebrity sex addicts?
Late Tuesday night, news broke that Jesse James -- perhaps the cheatingest celeb husband since, well, Tiger Woods -- had entered a rehab facility in Arizona. The facility, among other things, offers treatment for sex addiction. Considering what we know about James's appetites, conventional wisdom holds that he's there to seek help curbing his itch for buxom tattooed porn stars and other women not named Sandra Bullock (aka, his wife).
But is sex addiction rehab just the latest tool in the celebrity image rehab arsenal -- the next stop after the mea culpa statement? Are all cheaters (at least of the bold-faced variety) sex addicts? And are there really any beneficiaries when celebs like James and Tiger Woods check themselves in for a little sexual soul searching?
Me, I'm skeptical. When I first learned that James had admitted himself to the Sierra Tucson facility, my immediate reaction was a slow-motion eye roll. Although he did apologize to Bullock for "poor judgment" (via a written statement) earlier this month, James never did come out and admit -- at least to us (aka, the other wronged parties in this whole mess) -- that he'd actually cheated on Bullock. Instead, we've had to learn the sordid details from a series of self-promoting hotsy-totsies. And, as recently as today, it looks like more mistresses are coming out of the woodwork. In light of James's loss of control over the story, the rehab move feels like a last ditch effort to retain some semblance of his career -- or, to be more specific, his ability to earn money.
The same goes for Tiger Woods, whose awkward press conference and own stint in sex rehab are still fresh in our minds, even as he mounts an attempt to return to golf. In Woods's case, he remained silent for weeks before emerging to apologize, say he "owe[d] it to my family to become a better person" and ramble on about his Buddhist-tinged upbringing. Notably absent from the conference, though, was Mrs. Woods, aka Elin Nordegrin, who has as much as said she's just sticking around for the kids and has no plans to attend Tiger's return to the course at next week's Masters golf tournament. And, in a new Vanity Fair article, one of Woods's advisers is claiming his indiscretions were actually the fault of friends like Michael Jordan.
But the presser, as was noted at the time by an all-star panel of commentators, was more likely aimed at reassuring his sponsors (several of which dropped him when the scandal broke) than at salvaging his marriage. And, we have to assume, that sex rehab is yet another stop on the same tour.
Because, here's the thing -- I'm not convinced that cheating is something that should be treated in the same way as, say, meth addiction or alcoholism. Yes, sex junkies exist and -- as we see daily in the tabloids -- sacrifice their images and careers because they just couldn't resist a little extra something on the side. But does an open zipper policy automatically indicate sex addiction?
It did, apparently, for David Duchovny who entered rehab for sex addiction in 2008 after telling wife Tea Leoni that he was unable to resist women throwing themselves at him. After a separation, Duchovny and Leoni appear to be putting their family back together after his supposed successful treatment.
Halle Berry ex Eric Benet, on the other hand, in 2008 admitted he entered sex rehab only in a desperate attempt to save his marriage. (Benet and Berry divorced in 2005.)
"If you've been unfaithful in a relationship, or your marriage, you're considered a sex addict now," said Benet. "I never really agreed with that philosophy."
Isn't it possible that James and Woods -- like Benet -- are just cheaters? And that "sex addiction" is a convenient way to deflect personal responsibility for bad decisions?
Not so according to Dr. Drew Pinsky -- the mastermind behind VH1's "Celebrity Rehab" and "Sex Rehab" reality shows. In an interview with Radar Online, Pinksy said James is indeed a sex addict (perhaps one he'd like to court for next season?). And, he added, Bullock herself is a "love addict."
Really? A love addict?
To help me sort through my doubts about sex addiction, I called on Dr. Andrea Bonior, author of the Express's Baggage Check column, to explain sex addiction and what's involved in treatment.
Here's Dr. Andrea's definition:
"Sex addiction -- though its diagnosis is controversial -- is much more than the urge to get some on the side. It is an all-encompassing, often compulsive preoccupation with sexual thoughts and behavior. It takes over a person's life and determines so many aspects of their day-- and they're unable to tone it down."
How is it treated?
"[I]deally you'll be learning how to live within more appropriate boundaries, and to find a healthier way to address the emotional void that the sexual behavior was attempting to fill. A lot of people also need to deal with fundamental deficits in their ability to form healthy relationships -- like trust, emotional intimacy, self-esteem, and respect."
But, Dr. Andrea, are all cheaters sex addicts?
Of course, not all cheaters have an actual psychological disorder. Or sometimes they might, but it might not be in the form of a sex addiction but a personality issue that's even tougher to address. And it's fair to wonder if sometimes rehab serves as a copout ('I made irresponsible choices, but it's an illness!') or an empty promise for a broken or mismatched relationship ('I'll go to rehab! I'll totally change!') But if someone really does have sexual pathology, rehab can help them develop the tools to learn the roots of it and fight it.
Thanks Dr. Andrea.
With that in mind, I'm interested in your thoughts about the recent uptick in celebrities seeking sex addiction help. Are you buying it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below...
| March 31, 2010; 12:49 PM ET
Categories: Celebrities, Sandra Bullock/Jesse James
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