Is Harvey Weinstein A Sex Addict? Or Is He Using Sex Addiction Rehab As A 'Get Out Of Jail Free' Card?

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Harvey Weinstein Entering Rehab In Europe, But Does Sex Addiction Treatment Work?
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"Adventure therapy" in Europe? Really??

According to media reports, former Miramax mogul and producer Harvey Weinstein has left Hollywood to seek treatment for sex addiction at a rehab facility in Europe. This maneuver follows the recent bombshell reports of decades of sexual harassment and sexually coercive behaviors on his casting couch, towards numerous female stars. 

As stated by Weinstein: “My journey will now be to learn about myself and conquer my demons.”

RELATED: 8 Of The Most Alarming Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Details And Allegations

However, Weinstein is far from the first powerful man to attempt to use the excuse du jour, sex addiction, as an explanation and answer when sexual misconduct behaviors are exposed.

Here is just a partial list of men who've joined in the tradition of using a trip to rehab for "sex addiction" as a way to appear apologetic, responsible, and penitent to the public:

1. Ozzy Osbourne

When the rock god’s history of infidelity was exposed earlier this year, Osbourne fled to the Pine Grove treatment program for sex addiction treatment. Pine Grove was the first, and ostensibly one of the best, sex addiction treatment centers in the world.

Alas, they apparently didn’t do an extensive diagnostic and rule-out process for admission, as Osbourne later admitted that he never believed he was a sex addict, but rather, that he was just looking for a way to avoid problems.

“I’m in a f***ing rock band, aren’t I?... There have always been groupies. I just got caught, didn’t I?... I don’t think I’m a f***ing sex addict. I don’t wanna talk about it anyway ...”

RELATED: Ozzy’s Confession Proves 'Sex Addiction' Is Just An Excuse To Cheat

2. Anthony Weiner

The oh-so-appropriately-named former politician finally fled to sex addiction treatment in Tennessee after the last round of allegations and exposure that he had sent explicit pictures to an underage female. At The Recovery Ranch treatment center, Weiner participated in high-end equine therapy. At least, he did... until he had to file bankruptcy related to the extremely expensive treatment

Because the sex addiction does meet the criteria to be considered a medical diagnosis, it isn't reimbursable by health insurance, and thus, it is only usually available to those who have enough cash to afford the often $1000/day treatment.

Sadly, it would appear that no one told Weiner in advance that there is absolutely no evidence that equine therapy is of use in treating such problems (Really? Sending explicit pictures = equine therapy?).

And what's worse, it has now been approximately forty years since the first sex addiction treatment model was established, and yet there remains no empirical, peer-reviewed evidence showing that sex addiction treatment may actually work.

RELATED: How I Know Anthony Weiner Is NOT A Sex Addict

3. Ted Haggard 

Former Colorado minister and rabid anti-gay marriage opponent Haggard was exposed in a sex scandal involving a male sex worker, after which he was sent to sex addiction treatment by church leaders

A few years later, Haggard gave an interview in which he stated, “I’m probably what the kids call bisexual.”

Sadly, Haggard is just one of many religious bisexual males who end up receiving treatment that unethically diagnoses their homosexual desires as evidence of a disorder.

RELATED: Why Sex Addiction Is TOTAL BS (According To A Guy Who's Been There)

4. Dick Morris

Former Clinton White House adviser Morris left office in shame, amidst a kinky scandal involving a sex worker, her feet, and conference calls to then-President Clinton. Morris fled, of course, to sex addiction treatment.

Which apparently worked, as Morris was later one of the first to call out Clinton and label him as a sex addict during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, after which he went on to become a Fox News commentator.

Democratic White House adviser to Fox News commentator? That’s quite a life change. Perhaps an effect of the sex addiction treatment? 

RELATED: How Victim-Blaming Allows Guys Like Harvey Weinstein To Get Away With It

The list of men involved in such scenarios goes on and on.

It also includes many “normal,” less well-known men who’ve committed crimes by exploiting their positions of power in order to gain sexual benefits.

In 2015, Idaho college counselor Joseph Bekken was convicted of offering scholarships to young female college applicants in exchange for sex. Bekken attended “intense therapy” for sex addiction, apparently in hopes of reducing or avoiding his sentence.

Reality show star Josh Duggar was working for a conservative religious advocacy organization when he was exposed in the Ashley Madison scandal and had his history of infidelity revealed. Multiple trips to sex addiction residential treatment followed, and apparently, still continue.

What do you notice about all these folks?

Well, first, they’re all men.

In my years of documenting and investigating the industry of sex addiction treatment, I’ve yet to see a single woman try to avoid a sex scandal or punishment by claiming to be a sex addict.

I have found women who were shamed for their sexuality and labeled sex addicts, but that’s entirely different and is really just another example of the heteronormative sexual hypocrisy that is so deeply embedded in sex addiction theory.

RELATED: Female Dolphins Developed 'Protective' Vaginas To Stop Creepy Males From Sexually Assaulting Them

The other thing you might notice is that these are all men in positions of power.

They've become accustomed to using their influence, connections, and wealth, and begin feeling that they can grab women and get away with it because of who they are.

Throughout history, men in power have enjoyed sexual privilege in the form of harems, mistresses, and concubines.

Today, that sexual privilege is protected by a new form of privilege: the ability to use a trip to a sex addiction facility as a way to attempt to mitigate and explain one’s reprehensible sexual choices.

It’s fascinating that Weinstein mentioned his “demons.”

This hearkens back to the times when inexplicable human behaviors were, in fact, blamed on demonic possession. During those times, people who sinned were made to engage in public acts of repentance, such as wearing a “shame mask,” or a “hair shirt of suffering.”  

Today, public repentance involves sex addiction summer camp somewhere in Europe or the hills of Tennessee, where sinners ride horses and zip lines disguised as various forms of “adventure therapy” into the sunset.

Ultimately, this form of public theater in response to sexual scandals only serve to distract us from addressing the very real cultural and social dynamics that excuse and minimize sexual aggression and misconduct.

As long as we allow these farces to continue, as long as men like Weinstein, Osbourne, Weiner, et al know that claims of sex addiction provide a “get out of jail free" card, we can neither demand nor expect their sexual and moral integrity.

David J. Ley, Ph.D., is an expert on issues related to sexuality and mental health, is published in the LA Times and Playboy and has appeared on TV with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Phil, among others. His book, "The Myth of Sex Addiction," challenged sexual addiction and triggered a firestorm of debate. His latest book "Ethical Porn For D*cks: A Man's Guide To Responsible Viewing Pleasure" offers men a non-judgmental way to discover how to view pornography responsibly.

This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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