Kevin Spacey has starred in over 50 films, but he is making headlines at the moment due to a wave of people coming forward with claims of being sexually assaulted by the actor. This recent news has fans asking "Why?"
Why would a man who had everything risk it all to commit sexual assault, especially on a victim as young as 14?
Now, he's lost his regular gig as a star of the Netflix series House of Cards and his name is tarnished in his chosen industry.
Add to this the recent revelations against high powered Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein - another man who had it all (including a beautiful young wife and children) and is very quickly losing it due to the many claims of sexual abuse by female actresses made against him. News of Weinstein's impending divorce hit shortly after the allegations came to light.
Sex Addiction: It's Not About Sex
The fact that these men who appeared to be living "the good life," yet still were a slave to their sexuality, points to a deeper truth: Sexual addiction and acting out is not really about sex. And those urges have the capacity to overwhelm the higher, cortical functions of the brain.
Dr. Ted Roberts, former Marine Fighter Pilot, pastor, and host of the Conquer Series, a six-disc DVD set that helps men break free from porn and sexual addiction, reveals:
"Sexual addiction is not about sex, it's about the way the person deals with life."
It's a brain problem, not a moral problem, Roberts explains in the series. "Telling men to try harder is only tightening the noose of bondage."
For men trapped in sexual addiction, they will have gone further than they ever thought they would. They will often have tried to stop but they fail every time, heading further downward in a spiral of shame. So what causes some people to become addicted to sex and trapped in such a destructive cycle?
What Causes Sex Addiction?
For many, the roots of sex addiction are found in childhood.
In "The Making of a Sex Addict," (published in 2015 on the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals website), Dr. Patrick Carnes shared insight into the roots of sex addiction. He found three main factors that sex addicts had in common in his study of patients who attended an addiction interaction workshop over an 18-year period.
Factor One: Family of Addiction
In total, 87 percent of addicts came from a family with some type of addiction by one or more of the members of that family. These families of addicts had addicts of "all kinds": alcohol, gambling, eating disorders, sex and/or work addiction.
Factor Two: Victim of Child Abuse
Experiencing abuse as a child was also a factor.
While 72 percent reported being physically abused and 81 percent reported being sexually abused, almost all, or 97 percent, reported being the victim of emotional abuse.
In fact, the study concluded that "emotional abuse was a significant factor in addicts who abused children themselves."
Case in point, on Sunday the news broke of Randy Fowler, Kevin Spacey's brother, coming forward with allegations that he and Spacey were abused as children.
As Randy Fowler told The Sun (thesun.co.uk) in an exclusive interview, "'We grew up with abuse and neglect in a house of horrors. Our violent dad whipped me with a riding crop... I've never had children in case that evil personality could be passed on.'"
Not only that, Fowler admits that his father raped and beat him repeatedly starting when he was 14 years old. Fowler hoped that by submitting to the abuse, his father would stay away from Spacey.
"'Now I think I was naive,'" Fowler said in the article. "'When I heard about these allegations, I prayed history wasn't repeating itself.'"
Fowler also claims his father took Spacey and him to a nudist colony as a vacation and kept child pornography books in his office.
This pattern is typical of what Roberts encounters in his ministry, which is aimed at helping men break free of sex addiction.
Roberts shares, "Eighty percent of the men I counsel have a deep father wound."
Factor Three: Rigid, Disengaged Families
Perhaps in a correlation to the emotional abuse, 77 percent of sex-addiction patients reported that their families were "rigid, dogmatic and inflexible" in Carnes' study.
Even more, 87 percent reported that their families were "disengaged ... detached, uninvolved and emotionally absent," the study found. "Thus, they came from environments in which failure to bond was the norm."
Science of Generational Curses
All of this makes sense with what we now know about epigenetics. Epigenetics are instructions sitting above our genomes, telling our genes how to express themselves. These are changed based on our experience.
What we go through in life, the choices that we make, the food we eat, the behaviors we engage in—It can all change which genes are turned off and turned on, and this can be passed down to future generations in what is commonly referred to as a "generational curse."
If we are addicted to pornography, for example, we will pass along those instructions two and three generations down, making our children and grandchildren more vulnerable to addictions.
Conversely, if we receive victories, such as overcoming a sex addiction, we can pass those on as well.
Addiction: The Addict's Way of Medicating the Pain
Whether sex addiction arises from abuse, family background, (or, in the case of porn addiction, even from being exposed to it on the internet), the problem lies in the brain, and addiction is the addict's way of coping with the trauma experienced as a child.
"Some moments stay with you forever," Roberts, who has experienced his own victory over sex addiction, tell us.
"You are not evil; you are wounded. You are at war with your limbic system."
The limbic system is the part of your brain sometimes referred to as the "subconscious." It's where 95 to 98 percent of our decisions are made, according to Roberts.
Roberts calls the limbic system "the gas pedal of the brain." It's where you experience pleasure and where memories form so you can repeat what gives you pleasure. It acts on impulse—and it's programmed by the time you are 6 years old.
The prefrontal cortex, on the other hand, is the "brakes" of the brain, responsible for impulse control and executive reasoning. It is not fully formed until you are 25.
"In short," says Roberts, "Your brain is like a Ferrari engine with bicycle brakes."
The limbic system will overpower the prefrontal cortex every time.
"Sexual release gives a jolt of dopamine that changes the way you feel, making you feel better in a brief period of time." says Dr. Tim Jennings, neuropsychologist, author of The God Shaped Brain and expert contributor to the Conquer Series.
In the case of those with deep childhood wounds, Dr. James Reeves, senior pastor of City on a Hill church, tells us in the Conquer Series that those wounds "affect the capacity to have an intimate relationship with someone."
"The more wounded you are, the more stiff-armed you are going to be with people," says Reeves. "You keep people at a distance and medicate your pain. When you come off the medication, you still have pain, so you re-medicate."
This drives sex addicts to act out again and again.
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
Knowing the underlying factors and brain workings of sexual addiction should not serve as an absolution of past behavior.
Rather, once you have come to a place of admitting this is a problem in your life, you can identify the roots of it and start to find healing.
In fact, in the last 30 years we've learned that it is possible to rewire a brain that's hooked on porn.
"The brain molds," Dr. James McIlhaney, founder of The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, says in the Conquer Series. "The brain has brain cells that hook up to other brain cells through synapses. When those synapses are being used a lot, they strengthen and they grow."
McIlhaney likens this to what happens to a violinist. "You can actually see a part of the brain committed to the fingers of a violinist, that part of the brain being bigger ... thicker," he says in the Conquer Series. This can be seen on brain scan images.
"Prior to 1990, we were under the assumption that the brain never changed. You were born with a certain number of neurons, you died with those neurons," Roberts agrees. "Then we discovered neurogenesis. We discovered the brain is making new connections, giving birth to new neurons, on a moment-by-moment basis. Your brain is constantly changing."
Roberts, Jennings, Reeves and McIlhaney are just a few of the experts featured in the Conquer Series, a six-disc DVD study that has helped over 450,000 men start on the path to being freed from porn and sex addiction. Roberts, host of the series, has a 90 percent success rate in helping men break free from sexual addiction.