Review by: Moira Richards

5/01/02

Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction
By Sue William Silverman

This was not a book that I jumped to review. A woman's sexual addiction -- it sounded too much like the tired old patriarchal ploy -- "a good woman shalt not enjoy sex, much less actively seek it, lest she be branded nymphomaniac" (is there a masculine equivalent of that word?). And so I was very pleasantly surprised.

Sue William Silverman describes how a person who is in the control of an addiction can subvert her own best intentions and logical decisions; she explains how her uncontrollable need to have sex with any number of dangerous men works in the same way as any other addiction; she analyses the language of addiction -- the euphemisms that addicts use so as to convince themselves that their behavior is really quite healthy. In the book she takes us with her through the 28 days that she spent in a rehabilitation center to try and free herself from the addict-woman who had taken control of her mind, her body, and her soul. It is an intimate accompaniment through her decision to change her life around; it chronicles her hard-won triumphs as well as her lapses.

Silverman also shares her emotional conflict when she eventually began to take control of her life. She confronts the ambivalence of change -- the fear that one might not be able to change, although one knows that one must, and the terrors that creep in when one realizes that one can indeed change as well as the terrifying emptiness that is left when an addiction has been eradicated.

Silverman often reflects on the scars that the years of statutory rape and incest that she was subjected to by her father have left on her twenty years of adult life. I have no idea what other countries' statistics for this type of crime are, but child abuse and incest seem to have reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. Whether incidence of this crime has increased dramatically in recent years, or whether more people are now coming forward to report and denounce it, I do not know.

This is not an "it's so easy, if you just do this ... " motivational-speak type approach, and it must take a lot of courage to write so intimate a memoir. Not only must the author herself confront her addict, she must also introduce her to the world from which she has tried for so long and so hard, to hide her.

ISBN: 0393019578


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