A Response to the Joanne Russell’s “Open Letter to Patrick Carnes, Stefanie Carnes and Robert Weiss… (and CSATs).”

A Response to the “Open Letter to Patrick Carnes, Stefanie Carnes and Robert Weiss…and CSATs”

This is my response to the “An Open Letter to Patrick Carnes, Stefanie (misspelled in the article) Carnes and Rob Weiss…:  

With regard to the sex addict and their partner, there ALWAYS is some element of relational dysfunction before the sexual addiction is discovered.  Always.  Healthy people do not fall in love with sex addicts, or for that matter, narcissists. This is idea is explained in my Human Magnet Syndrome (HMS) work.

But let me be very clear, although the partner of the sex addict is never responsible for the sexual acting out, they willingly participate in a relationships that is marred by all sorts of open and hidden dysfunction.  Hidden dysfunction is best understood by what is secret  or what cannot be discovered.  It can also be hidden by the partner’s denial system, an unconscious process, that is beyond one’s awareness.

If you embrace my HMS and Continuum of Self theoretical constructs, you will agree that people come together in relationships because of how they psychologically match-up or the “chemistry” that powerfully directs their attraction patterns.  Although sex addicts are not necessarily codependents or narcissists, those who happen to be either of the two, are presumed to be in an intimate/close relationships with their opposite, like a negative polarized magnet is attracted to one that is positive.

All relationships come together like a dance partnership.    One partner’s “dance role” has to match the others, in order to make the “dance partnership” work.  Therefore,  the codependent sex addict is always attracted to a narcissist and the narcissistic sex addict is always attracted to a codependent.   This article is article and video clarifies my position on this relationship dynamic.

The reason I explain the above is because of audaciously negative and harmful article, “An Open Letter to Patrick Carnes, Stephanie (misspelled) Carnes, Rob Weiss…and CSATS,” written by Joann Russell.  It seems to me that her article is reflective of her own unconscious anger at sex addicts and her motivation to further her own personal, marketing, and business agenda.

Over the years, I have come to understand (as well as many of my colleagues) that there is a contingency of former partners of sex addicts who decide to become psychotherapists specializing in the treatment of partners of sex addicts.  Since this group of professionals are unaware of their own unresolved issues with the perpetrators of abuse in heir life, they project their unconsciously managed rage onto either sex addicts or those who treat them in an affirming and optimistic manner.  It seems to me that this unique subgroup of practitioners have a major chip on their shoulder against sex addicts.  Such plays out in the triangulation of their partner clients against the very important recovery, healing and restorative process, and of course, the sex addict.  These practitioners seem to be unable to take a balanced, objective and neutral point of view in their work with sex addicted clients or partners of them.  Moreover, they are oblivious that they are actually hurting their clients and the loved ones connected to them.

In my opinion, such treatment practitioners are often narcissistic, many of whom qualify for the diagnosis of Narcissistic or Borderline Personality Disorder.  Just like the narcissistic clients they treat, they are predictably enraged, humiliated, and horribly victimized by their discovery of the sex addiction and the end of the the interacting systems of deceit and denial.  The Personality Disorder creates a uni-dimensional blame-based understanding of their partner’s sex addiction that inhibits them from understanding how and why they participated in the dysfunctional elements of the relationship.  Although the sex addiction is never their fault, they are completely oblivious to any contributing element that may have lead their partner to seek comfort, connection, or a self-medicating shot of anesthesia via their sexual “drug of choice.

It is common knowledge, going back to classic research by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse in the 1970’s and those connected to Family Systems Theory, that it “takes two to tango.” In any dysfunctional system, people play out their roles.  There are no coincidences that unhealthy people come together in relationships. There is SO MUCH written about this clear and obvious psychological and sociological fact.  To repeat, psychologically healthy people are not attracted to sex addicts (or those who are destined to be a sex addict).  The chemistry, the “dance,  or Human Magnet Syndrome explanations account for this relational dynamic.

When any partner learns about their sex addicted partners calculated lies, deceit and despicable treatment of them, they are rightly upset, as they should be.  Many of them cannot forgive their partners, and consequently end the relationship.  This is possible outcome is not disauaded or discouraged by CSAT’s or the work of Patrick and Stefanie Carnes and Rob Weiss.  But they do take a stand however.  They, as do well trained CSAT’s who appropriately apply what they learned, try to heal and empower partners of sex addicts so they can make an informed and empowered decision regarding the future of the relationship.

Thanks to the CSAT protocols, methods and training, which are all scientifically/research supported and validated, partners learn about their unique “co-addict” role, while also learning to be safe, empowered and self-loving.  CSATs facilitate, not direct, decisions about relationships, and are well-aware of the long-lasting impact they have on their client’s mental health.  Incidentally, co-addict merely translates to “partner of the addict”  not “complicitous partner of the addict.”

To write a completely dismissing article with the proactive intent to smear people’s reputation, who are huge contributors (internationally recognized and acclaimed) in the field of sex addiction recovery, whom I know and respect, is just wrong.   In my opinion, Ms. Russell’s use of a public forum that has the capacity to impact multitudes of people was a calculated move to destroy or diminish the very important movement of sexual addiction recovery.  Looking at her website, it is clear she is privy to the power of Intenet marketing and search engine optimization.  In other words, the article was meant to create the maximum harm to the people she openly disparages in her article.  Articles like this lose their validity, because it seems more like a character assassination than helpful information.

In addition, it seems that Ms. Russel, neither has an addiction background or understanding of the very complicated matter of sex addiction and a partners experience of it.  In addition, she doesn’t seem to have a working knowledge about the seminal work of Patrick and Stefanie Carnes and Rob Weiss.  Such is evidenced by her highly opinionated and apparently activated opinions regarding sex addiction, the 12-Step Programs, CSAT training and methods, and more. One example is the CSAT methods are not 12-Step based; just influenced.  It is so very much beyond just one method, mode or theory.  It is includes an accumulation of research based methods that have been vetted and approve  by thousands of therapists.

Ms. Russell’s cavalier and fact-less article has the potential to hurt a field that has created huge advancements to mental health and addiction recovery field.  Moreover, she has the capacity to galvanize partners of sex addicts against a healing, empowering, self-loving, and possibly restorative process.

Using one’s business website as a bully pulpit to promote unsubstantiated judgments about hard working, dedicated and brilliant contributors to the field of sexual addiction is just wrong. Such judgments would have held more water if Ms. Russell’s education, training, and experience was somewhere in the area of the field that she was so quick to criticize.  In addition, it seems that Ms. Russell’s blog is more connected to personal gain and profit than helping others recover from the sex addiction, whether a partner or  an addict.

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT

Ross Rosenberg

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT, is an international codependency, narcissism, trauma, and sex& love addictions expert who provides psychotherapy, training and consultation services. Ross is a keynote speaker and trainer, presenting in 27 states and 3 countries. He owns Advanced Clinical Trainers and Clinical Care Consultants, an Arlington Heights IL counseling center. He wrote the best-selling book, "The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us." Ross’s YouTube channel contains 75 instructional/educational videos, which have over 2.6 million views and amassed 24,000 subscribers. He has been on ABC Late Night, a ABC "Swiped" documentary, Fox News and WGN News. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune & Publishers Weekly and he blogs for The Huffington Post, PsychCentral.com & TheGoodMenProject.com.

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