Dax Shepard is the latest guest to sit down with Dr. Phil McGraw for his recently launched podcast “Phil in the Blanks”, and it didn’t take long for the former “Parenthood” star to get candid.
So candid, in fact, that Shepard, 44, divulged his belief that he may have once been a sex addict.
“I’ve had what maybe could be called a sex addiction at some point in my life,” Shepard said. “Not one that I had to seek treatment for, but…”
“There are worse addictions,” joked McGraw.
“Up until then I would’ve just said, ‘I have sex with a lot of people, I like to do it, it’s healthy, who cares, I’m not getting diseases, I’m single, whatever.’ But the moment that I thought, ‘Ooh, this deserves exploration,’ is when I had a girlfriend, she was away, we got in a fight over the phone. I hung up the phone, I was driving in the car, and I immediately got horny,” continued Shepard, who has been sober for 14 years after struggling with substance abuse.
“Now, that is a biochemical feeling. I’m getting a serotonin dump,” he added. “Whatever I’m getting, that’s a physiological thing; horniness. So I’m just feeling authentically horny, and I think, ‘Hmm, I’m going to text this girl I know,’ and I text this girl, and there was this delay, and I just had this moment of clarity. ‘That’s suspicious.’ I just felt disempowered by my girlfriend. And immediately I got horny.”
This led Shepard to wonder if his mind was somehow trying to protect him from facing some deep and possibly painful feelings about his relationship.
“Could my brain be taking care of me?” asked Shepard, who has been married to “The Good Place” star Kristen Bell since 2013. “It was real horniness, it’s just my brain made me horny so I didn’t have to feel that other thing. That’s so complex.”
However, McGraw told Shepard it’s “not really” that complicated. “For every thought you have there’s a physiological correlate,” he explained. “There’s no thought that you have that there’s not some hydraulic in your body that goes along with it. I mean, think about a dill pickle. Think about biting into a dill pickle and crushing it, you feel it crunch. The vinegar explodes in your mouth. What happens? You start salivating, right? For every thought there’s something like that that happens.”
What Shepard experienced, said McGraw, was more likely his body reacting to thoughts of his girlfriend than any sort of sex addiction.
“If you have a thought about someone you’re attracted to or you had a good experience or whatever, your body is going to respond,” he said. “You only have one arousal system, it’s just how you label it. You assign the meaning to it. This is sexual arousal, this is fear arousal, this is excitement arousal. You just point it whatever direction your mind wants to take it.”
You can listen to the podcast in its entirety below: