DESIRE: Where Sex Meets Addiction

Cheever sets out to explore the differences between passion and love, desire and need, and raises weighty questions about why—and how—we love.

In this engrossing psychological memoir, acclaimed author and addict Susan Cheever (daughter of novelist John Cheever) exposes the ugly underbelly of romantic love: sexual addiction. Though similar in symptoms and scope to alcohol and drug addiction, it’s still not commonly accepted as a disease. Why? Because romantic love is so idealized in our culture that many folks—especially women—may not realize that love does not equal obsession, and that obsession is not healthy. Cheever sets out to explore the differences between passion and love, desire and need, and raises weighty questions about why—and how—we love.

Cheever seamlessly blends personal stories from her addictive romantic life with interviews, psychology, and science. She is brutally honest about the ways in which she has used sexual dalliances to help distract her and make her feel more alive: “Whenever there was a crisis, I found a man to help me take the edge off the feelings of helplessness and pain,” she writes.

As a recovering alcoholic and expert on addiction herself (she authored My Name Is Bill, a definitive biography of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson, as well as Home Before Dark, about her alcoholic father), Cheever believes that addictions are interdependent. She quotes doctors and counselors who study the chemical and physical similarities of love and addiction, and makes a case for a new, more cohesive model of treatment.

 
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