cover image Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction

Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction

Susan Cheever, . . Simon & Schuster, $23 (172pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-3792-2

“We are a nation of puritanical love junkies,” proclaims Cheever (My Name Is Bill ) in her inquiry into the growing scientific and psychological evidence that suggests a chemical basis for sex addiction. Drawing on a hodge-podge of addiction literature, neurobiological studies and her more informal (but most persuasive) role as a seasoned battler of her own obsessions, Cheever believes that American idealism taints our expectations of relationships: “In our world, addiction to other people... is the only addiction that is applauded and embraced.... ” But for Cheever, a lover's destructive behavior can be just as traumatizing as that of an alcoholic, a bulimic or a compulsive gambler. Cheever is best when writing personally; her candid memories of emotionally abusive parents, repeated adultery and consuming love drive an otherwise meandering text. Her cultural subjects are titillating enough and range from the voyeurism of To Catch a Predator to speculation that Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, struggled to hide a sex addiction. But the reader strains to connect slim narrative threads of this unstructured meditation on obsession. (Oct.)