The author has written a very personal account concerning the not-well-understood subject of sexual addiction and how it compares with other addictions, namely alcohol, drugs, food, and gambling. The book consists largely of brief interviews with noted addiction scholars, many specializing in sexual addiction, personal accounts of those who destroyed their lives through sexual obsession, and a personal look at various periods of the author's life involving promiscuity, infidelity, and alcohol abuse.
The author amply demonstrates that sexual addicts are given to the behaviors of lying, secretiveness, broken promises, obsessiveness, self-destructiveness, remorse, and the like, much as do other addicts. Likewise, there is evidence that there are genetic predispositions to most addictions, as well as similarities in brain reactions to addictive behaviors and withdrawals across the spectrum of addictions. Though not elaborated, sexual addiction is somewhat unique in that a substance is not involved and the behavior, even copious amounts, is considered normal and essential for life. The propagation of species depends on strong sex drives.
Another factor in naming activities "addictions" is the changing social environment and tolerance for behaviors. At one time in our history, excessive use of tobacco, overeating, and drinking were hardly viewed in the same manner as today. Furthermore, the sting is taken out of the word by its use to describe intense interest in all types of activities.
Sexual addiction is extremely difficult to determine. Multiple sex partners, open marriages, and the like are hardly atypical in modern society. The anonymity of urban life, professions that provide intense contact with numerous patients, clients, etc, access to significant resources, and an open-minded orientation - all of these facilitate an increased variety of sexual experiences. The author, a distinguished writer and mover among high social circles, had far more opportunities for sexual liaisons than the average person. She was unfaithful and undoubtedly was remorseful; however her claims of sexual addiction seem well overstated. She did not target potential victims at every turn - not even close. Perhaps under different marital arrangements, her behavior may well have been tolerated.
The book is an interesting and personal take on sexual addiction. Clearly, sexual addiction does exist with predatory behavior being a large component. Yet it remains an elusive concept. Infatuation, even obsession, is a typical response in many, if not most, courtships. Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect that intensity of feeling to never arise again. And, if so, is a labeling of sexual addiction that informative? There is much more to be said about the subject than is found in this short book. The book is perhaps best read for the author's journey through many marriages and lovers, though all covered in a rather subdued sense.