Fantasies, Fantasies, Fantasies/Dorothy Hayden, LCSW


Reclaim Sexual Sanity:  Find Recovery Now by Calling 212-673-5717 for an Initial Consultation.  See www.sextreatment.com for 35 full-length articles about sex addiction and for details about my private practice.

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Assessing Compulsive Fantasy

Sexual fantasies are something that we all experience. They are necessary, healthy and can actually promote personal growth and facilitate learning. In addiction, they are the truest form of “instant gratification” and tend to expand into many other areas of a person’s life (e.g. business, family, future). Fantasies allow a person to change their mood, balance stress, experience success…all with nothing more than the thoughts they have in their mind.

The difficulty with too much fantasizing is that the differences in reality and fantasy are often great. Such a contrast often creates an emotional imbalance when comparing the two…and by now, we know where emotional imbalances lead… To further acting out.

In the context of this workshop, fantasies will be considered those sexual/romantic thought patterns that consistently distract you from your daily routine. The range of fantasy spans widely. Some experience it literally hundreds of times each day for just a few seconds each time (as in the case of a man in a shopping mall–with each woman walking by triggering brief sexual images); some experience fantasy as an event (“scheduling” an hour or more to do nothing but fantasize); and still others fantasize as a distraction from mundane work. As you review the behaviors associated with fantasy, look for general patterns that might translate specifically to your experiences–then focus on the boundaries, values and cues that you associate with the fantasy.

For instance, while Playboy may be used as a trigger for fantasy in one person…a romantic novel may be used in triggering another. Fantasy is your mind’s need to escape, at least temporarily, from reality. To experience life in a way that you would not have otherwise. There is nothing wrong with this, until it begins to effect that reality in a negative way.

Obsessions are one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in recovery and one of the hardest to identify PRIOR to their development. They are the purest form of the “all or nothing principle”, as they allow the obsessed person to focus on a single element in its extreme, and tend to process everything associated with the particular element as black and white. This is especially difficult in love addiction, where the target is a particular person with whom a relationship has already developed. Such relationships tend to be extremely chaotic and emotionally exhausting for the target of that obsession. Typically, obsessions allow a person to balance the stress in their lives by focusing on a single (or several) element(s). This makes their lives easier to manage–scratch that–this allows them to perceive that their lives as easier to manage, though they continue to experience the pressure, anger, anxiety and other negative emotions not usually experienced in fantasy.

Obsessions, in a sexual/romantic context, involve the compulsive need to think about certain people, situations and/or behavior. Even if they want to stop (or slow down) these thoughts, they are unable to. Obsessions distract the individual from focusing on a balanced life, and so as the obsession grows, the life becomes more and more out of balance. Relationships are destroyed, other values are lost. The person’s reality becomes consumed by one or two major events in their life. Such obsessions may involve pleasure (in the case of “new love” and/or infatuation); they may involve pain (in the case of not being able to trust a partner); or they can even include an obsession with NOT have sex or being in a relationship (e.g. sexual anorexia, preoccupation with maintaining one’s virginity).

Romantic Delusions are a rather rare form of both fantasy and obsession. They occur when an individual begins fantasizing about developing a romantic relationship with a particular person and becomes obsessed in the pursuit of that person. The original attraction and associated fantasies become what the individual now considers “reality”. He/she believes that the person targeted is the true love of his/her life. Like obsessions, the behavioral pattern becomes a complete focus on the reciprocation of this love, and his/her perception of reality is lost in the process.

Common Patterns Associated with Fantasies, Obsessions and Delusions:
 
             Fantasies
  • 3-5 second sexual fantasies that occur as part of a daily routine (up to hundreds of such fantasies daily–especially when in public places)
  • Numerous daily sexual/romantic fantasies involving a particular person, memory or act (can consume several hours each day)
  • Setting aside time to fantasize where such time is considered an actual event in the person’s life (e.g. an hour in the bath tub; fifteen minutes over the lunch hours; Friday evening in the apartment, etc.). The key here is that it is considered an event similar to going to the movies or taking the dog for a walk.
  • Consciously using triggers to promote fantasy–as in the use of Internet pornography, romantic novels, “people-watching”, chat rooms, e-mail
  • Increasing sleep patterns to trigger an increase in fantasy/dreams (e.g. naps, early to bed)
Elements Frequently Associated with:

Fantasy

  • Fantasy (duh!)
  • Accomplishment [when achieving temporary relief from an emotional imbalance (stress/depression, anxiety)]

Obsession

  • Fantasy (in creating an unending series of possible scenarios)
  • Suspense (in not knowing how the situation will turn out, what the truth really is, etc.)
  • Power (affords the individual the perception of control over a situation, though this is not an accurate perception as the obsessing often underlines the lack of control that a person has)

Romantic Delusions

  • Fantasy (in selecting a target)
  • Power (in not facing initial rejection)
  • Suspense (in not knowing whether or not his/her target will reciprocate his feelings
Other Elements Commonly Found in a Ritualistic Chain where Fantasy is the Primary Behavior:

Fantasy

  • Sensory (especially physical/visual)
  • Depending on the fantasy, just about any elements can be included in such chains
  • Orgasm (especially when masturbation is involved)

Frequent Cues/Triggers Often Associated With:

Fantasy

  • Pornography
  • Stress (especially related to low self-esteem, trauma and/or depression)
  • Boredom
  • Feeling unappreciated, taken for granted
  • Media (TV, songs, books, Internet, etc.)
  • Love
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Visual attraction
  • Social situations/Public places

Boundaries Frequently Violated By:

Fantasy

  • Intimacy
  • Identity
  • Meaning

Obsession

  • Autonomy
  • Self-respect
  • Intimacy
  • Identity
  • Love

Romantic Delusions

  • Identity
  • Integrity
  • Safety
  • Social Acceptance
  • Order

tags: Porn Addiction Treatment NYC,  Therapy for Sex Addiction NYC,  Treatment for Sex Addiction NYCTreatment for Porn Addiction NYC,  Sex Addiction Treatment NYC,  Sex Addiction Therapy NYC, sexual addiction recovery, help for sex addicts, sex addict help

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