Couples travel from around the world to visit Dr Pamela Kohll and start the process of rebuildingby Anna Blundy / September 26, 2018 / Leave a comment
Sitting in a cosy exposed-brick office with Manhattan roaring outside, I find myself staring at a large pot plant and moved to tears by the plight of… well, of Harvey Weinstein. Earlier the same day I would have bet pretty much anything on this never happening.
Couples come to Dr Pamela Kohll because one of them is a sex addict. Of course, it’s worth making the distinction between a sex addiction that stays within the boundaries of the law, and a sex abuser whose compulsions lead him to break laws. Clearly Weinstein is in the latter category. But any sex addiction involves an objectification of other people that is in essence abusive.
Those who seek changecometo Kohll. Some come half way round the world, book into a nice hotel, get down to business. They will spend $4,800 and three grueling days with her in her New York consulting room in the hope that, at the end of it, they will be in a position to rebuild their broken lives.
On the first day the addict will detail his (usually his) every sexual episode from his first masturbatory experience to the violent (illegal?) porn he watched yesterday. The therapist and partner listen without judgment and the partner will be helped with the often extreme trauma of dealing with what she (usually she) hears. I pictured this awful scene from Pamela’s daily life, and thought how villainised the addict must feel, sitting there baring the worst of himself while someone he’s betrayed weeps at his side.
What, I wonder is the someone doing there? Why hasn’t she left? To me it looks masochistic to put up with feeling like you’re not enough. Even if her spouse’s behaviour is an evacuation of his own feelings about himself. Even if he feels worthless and is making her feel worthless in order to escape. Even then.
Because surely the partner of an addict is herself half of the picture. Co-dependent is the unappealing phrase I fish for. After all, she has chosen someone fundamentally unavailable for reasons of her own. She is perhaps as keen to avoid genuine intimacy as he is, and then, masochistically, she stays despite serial betrayal. And she always has someone else to blame for her misery.
Kohll smiles calmly. “Well, these couples may not have chosen each other at all. I work with…