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Posted at 12:49 PM ET, 03/31/2010

Jesse James, the latest in a string of celebrity sex addicts?

By Liz Kelly

The face of sex addiction? Jesse James at the Oscars earlier this month. (AP)

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...

By Liz Kelly  | March 31, 2010; 12:49 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Sandra Bullock/Jesse James  
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It's a thin line between availability and sexual addiction.

Posted by: Anglo_Rider | March 31, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Maybe 'twas ever thus, only now it's talked about more?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | March 31, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Liz & Jen (I don't like "JeLi"), you two have a lot of room to talk. Your last blog posting was one long obsessive discussion about someone's package.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 31, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

And to think I used to like and respect Dr. Drew.

Posted by: StuckatWork | March 31, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I think you're making a few leaps. While the facility may specialize in sex addition, it's not the only specialty, so how do we know he's not there for alcohol (only) rehab? Maybe the guy's drinking impaired his judgment and he's focusing on the root cause.

Regarding, "I'm not convinced that cheating is something that should be treated in the same way as, say, meth addiction or alcoholism." -- who says it IS treated that way? Last I checked, rehab takes many forms, no?

Maybe the guy just wants help -- and figures that checking into a facility is one way to get some peace and quiet (from the media, et al.) while he sorts out his life. Unless he calls himself a "sex addict," I don't think it's fair to label him as one.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | March 31, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Who cares about Tiger Woods? He should join Amway, they also screw anything that moves, and have ripped off millions of people for several decades, to the tune of 10s of billions of dollars:

Amway is a scam, and here's why: Amway pays out as little money as they can get away with, so they support the higher level IBOs ripping off their downline via the tool scam.

As a result, about 99% of IBOs operate at a net loss, while the top 1% make several TIMES more from their Amway tool scam than from the Amway products. This was made illegal in the UK in 2008, but our FTC is unable to pull their heads out of their butts to stop it here.

Read about it on this website: and forward the information to everyone you know, so they don't get scammed.

Posted by: texansay | March 31, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I always thought the addiction line was that you weren't enjoying it, but did it anyway. Jesse James didn't cross the line.

Posted by: jimward21 | March 31, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

You know, I thought putting Celebritology behind the log in wall would keep the spam out.

Posted by: epjd | March 31, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

EJPD, are you suggesting that the v. important anti-Amway screed above is spam?!?!

Posted by: Liz Kelly | March 31, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I think the difference between "cheating" and "sex addiction" is really between being a regular guy - or a very rich guy!
Money and fame makes it easier to cheat - it doesn't change the essence!
Like OJ goes free (originally) where any other regular (non-rich) black goes to jail - or worse!
Let's quit pretending there is one Law for every one!!!

Posted by: thornegp2626 | March 31, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I admit it, I am a sex addict. That is, I like sex. Now, what constitutes an addiction? Since sex is a natural drive required for the continuation of our species, to say one has an unnatural need for sex is a bit of a stretch. One may have unnatural targets for one's sex drive (i.e., pedophilia) but our sexual drive's normal variation is not the same as an abnormality in need of treatment.

Posted by: rharris5 | March 31, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

In the old days, the cure for sex addiction was a rolling pin forcefully wielded by an angry wife.

Posted by: maggots | March 31, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Liz, if it walks like spam, talks like spam, and read likes spam, it's spam. Ranks right up there with the handbag postings.

At least before we got LuvLinsey and, dare I say it, che.

Posted by: epjd | March 31, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I find it a bit convenient that the 'addiction' is realized only when the shiznit hits the fan...

This is a convenient excuse for these boys (not men, boys who are trying the 2nd grader defense of 'its not my fault' to avoid paying the price for their choices) and it diminishes the very real pain of true addicts.

These men aren't addicts, they are egos who thought they could get away with it.

Posted by: LTL1 | March 31, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

While it sounds like sex addiction is a real disorder (and David Duchovny's treatment was most likely real and, thankfully, kept private and seems to be helping patch up his marriage), the latest slew of celebs are prob. embracing it just so they can pacify the public and look like they are working to change their errant ways. Treatment for alcohol, drugs or anxiety is so passe - sex addiction is the new rehab du jour.

Posted by: Californian11 | March 31, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Looks like WaPo is still trying to steal customers from People Magazine and USA Today. I can't think of another reason why it would print one word about this trash. What scares me is that the readers WaPo is reaching for have the right to vote and the right to bring children into the world, which is also very sad as they would enter with obvious mental disadvantages. TFL, Ken

Posted by: kentigereyes | March 31, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

There is no such thing as "sex addiction." That is propaganda and nonsense from "higher power" pushers. It cheapens the problems we must face in curing real addictions. If someone has a problem regarding sex, love, food, gambling, television, or the internet, it is at worst a behavioral disorder.

Posted by: revbookburn | March 31, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Really? Who gives a s**t! Wasn't this guy a serial marrier who had ex wives involved in the porn industry? Is this supposed to be a surprise? Who are these so-called grown ups who get involved in these idiotic relationships and why or why do they insist on getting married and reproducing?

Posted by: isthisajoke | March 31, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: KraftPaper | March 31, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

What about the problem with men/intimacy and problems with their fathers or lack of fathers involved in their lives...Men who can have women who "adore" them but who do not have to care for them...there is something here that folks do not get?

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | March 31, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Sex addicts?

No, just the latest lame excuse for behaving badly.

Posted by: abbydelabbey | March 31, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

First it was "Exhaustion." Now everyone is checking in for "Sex Addiction." Boy these celebs have it ROUGH.

I wish I had enough money to get exhausted by my sex addiction.

Posted by: davidlav7 | March 31, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

If you live long enough, you will see every form of aberrant behaviour, once controlled by society through a completely outmoded and now abandoned concept called "shame," show up in the DSM as some kind of addiction.

You won't be able to find any definitions for the phrase "self discipline," because that trait has apparently been dying out at a rapid rate, and is pretty much now non existent in celebrities. Oh --- also forget a quaint word called "morality" as our enlightened society has rejected that whole deal as being too judgmental.

So everything is an addiction, and we know that the way you cure addictions is to see shrinks and swallow pills. Great world!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | March 31, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Temptations are plentiful. Finding someone to walk along with you on your path is a blessing, a miracle. Beyond the fantasy of being married/committed, the hard work of nurturing and cultivating is beyond the silly news at the grocery check out lanes. Let's grow up.

Posted by: brantdavis07 | March 31, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Come on, let's get real. "I have a sex addiction" means "I got caught by my wife." Period. None of these guys regret a thing other than the fact that they feel some need to repent for the act of being a normal human male, and neither would I. There isn't one man in a thousand who wouldn't carry on multiple sexual relationships if he had the opportunities that these guys do. Marital fidelity is a concept invented by women.

The ONLY thing that bothers me about Tiger is that he didn't have the stones to dump his wife instead of groveling to her. So he'd lose a couple of endorsements -- who cares? All he has to do is go out and win a few more tournaments and he'll be the jewel in the crown all over again. Tiger -- man up, dump your wife, and live the life...

Posted by: jerkhoff | March 31, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Sex addiction is just an excuse to use when you get caught. Such facilities are meaningless.

Posted by: lskloven1 | March 31, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Men want sex. Men want sex with as many different partners as possible. This is their dream. In order to marry, a man must give up his dream. Remember that girls.

Posted by: katman13 | March 31, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Mega-celebrities of a certain sort get a virtually unlimited supply of sex partners for the asking---and sometimes without. This is deemed as necessarily pathological only by the rest of us who have a harder time filling our beds or fulfilling our fantasies.

Not for everyone, perhaps, but few men---afters years of having ego, groin and personal marketing power swollen by celebrity---would decline to at least dabble with sex-on-demand with a parade of super-vixens. Monogamy has its virtues, but it can get awfully old....

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | March 31, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I can honestly say there is nothing in my life that would necessitate me seeking sexual addiction treatment.


Posted by: jd5024 | April 1, 2010 3:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm still confused about the persistent use of the word "mistress" to define these women or Tiger's posse. The traditional definition implies a deeper connection and ties than obsessive texts, hitting it on the office couch, or buying someone a Subway sandwich. Maybe it's because other words don't make it past the censors, but I think "mistress" gives these women/relationships too much credit.

Posted by: auntiemare | April 1, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Success is the best deodorant - Elizabeth Taylor.

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 1, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Success is the best deodorant - Elizabeth Taylor.
Well, that would explain why some women find Matthew McConaughey attractive.

Posted by: Californian11 | April 1, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Success is the best deodorant - Elizabeth Taylor.
Well, that would explain why some women find Matthew McConaughey attractive.

Posted by: Californian11 | April 1, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Including Sandra Bullock....

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 1, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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