July 4, 2008 — -- What could be better than sex with supermodel Christie Brinkley?
For Peter Cook, Brinkley's soon-to-be ex-husband, the answer may just be $3,000 worth of pornography, an Internet connection that allows him to masturbate in front of an online audience and an affair with an 18-year-old woman.
Now sexologists are wondering whether Cook, who testified about his sexual behavior under oath at his divorce trial yesterday in Southampton, N.Y., may be a sex addict.
"Anyone who is married to Christie Brinkley and has to masturbate at all is probably a sex addict," said Doug Weiss, a licensed psychologist and the executive director of the Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado.
According to Weiss, who has treated hundreds of sex addicts at his counseling center, anyone who is willing to spend money – thousands of dollars in Cook's case – to achieve sexual arousal without the help of their supermodel wife, probably doesn't have a healthy relationship with sex.
"The fact that a man would spend money on women who are probably less beautiful and less wonderful than his own wife is often an indication of a sex addiction," said Weiss, who has not treated Cook or Brinkley.
The decision by some men to choose random sexual encounters or pornography in place of real-life intimacy with their spouse may stem from their first sexual encounters as teen boys, said Weiss.
"Most of these guys have grown up looking at pornography and have object fantasies," Weiss told ABCNEWS.com, describing a sort of attachment some men form to the pornography they use to become sexually aroused.
Because of the high level of endorphins that are released during sex – which Weiss says are four times stronger than morphine – some men become neurologically glued to whatever they are looking at as they orgasm.
"They create a fantasy world," said Weiss. "It's this 24/7 sex goddess that they become glued to during their adolescence – it doesn't matter what the woman looks like, all that matters is their neurological attachment to that fantasy world."
"For sex addicts, the only way they know how to get an erection is by imagining the porn stars [they've become attached to]," added Weiss.
Weiss, who said that some sex addicts are predisposed to the condition because of neglectful childhoods or abusive relationships, said that hiding this behavior from unsuspecting spouses really isn't that difficult.
"A lot of women, since they don't watch pornography and have never had the neurological fantasy with porn, have no concern about it," said Weiss. "They have this sort of naivete about pornography."
But sex expert and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship" Judy Kuriansky said that not all avid porn watchers are sex addicts.
"The criteria for a sex addiction is two-fold," said Kuriansky. "You have to not be able to control your impulses and also get into trouble because of what you're doing."
Sexologist Logan Levkoff agrees.
"Sex addiction has always been a tricky subject because there is a debate about whether or not it even exists," said Levkoff.
"As for Cook's activities, while I don't know enough about him to label this an 'addiction', there are definitely some compulsive elements to this," Levkoff added.
A lot of what Cook admits to doing behind Brinkley's back, Kurainsky added, signifies low self-esteem and extreme narcissism that is seen in many men who get wrapped up in their reputation.
"[Having an affair] with a younger girl is part of what a lot of guys do when they're in a relationship with a powerful woman and they're feeling threatened," said Kurainsky. "They can do anything they want and exert power over the younger girls."
Spending large sums of money – whether on the younger girl or on pornography – is another ego-booster, said Kurainsky.
"These are men who have wealth and fame and opportunity and huge sex drives," said Kurainsky.
"Those impulses make them do things that they think they can get away with," she added.