Are you a sex addict
8 Signs to Look For
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 02, 2020
In this Article
- What is a Sex Addict?
- Signs of a Sex Addict
- Treating Sexual Addiction
What is a Sex Addict?
Sex addiction is defined as a lack of control over sexual thoughts, urges, and impulses. While sexual impulses are natural, sex addiction only refers to behaviors that are done in excess and significantly impact one’s life in a negative way.
Although sex addiction isn’t listed as a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), research indicates that excess sexual behavior can develop, like a chemical addiction.
A person with sex addiction may have a compulsive need to be sexually stimulated. This desire often interferes with their ability to live their daily life. Sexual addictions can come in many different forms, including addiction to:
- Sexual acts
- Watching or consuming pornography
- Masturbation or sexual fantasy
- Exhibition or voyeurism
Sex addicts may alter their activities to perform sexual acts persistently, unable to control their behavior despite any consequences.
This compulsive sexual behavior can have serious personal consequences. Like drug or alcohol addiction, sex addiction can impact physical health, mental health, personal relationships, and quality of life.
Signs of a Sex Addict
Sexual addiction can manifest itself in many different ways, both physical and emotional. It takes a healthcare professional to make a clear diagnosis, but here are some signs that can point to a potential sex addiction:
Obsessive Sexual Thoughts
Someone dealing with sex addiction may find themselves thinking persistently about sex. These chronic thoughts of sex or sexual fantasies may become obsessive or interfere with other responsibilities.
Spending Excessive Time on Sex
While seeking out sexual partners isn’t necessarily a sign of sexual addiction, if someone is spending excessive amounts of time and energy on sex, it might be a red flag. This can include spending time attempting to acquire sex, having sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experiences.
Feeling Shame or Depression
If a need for sex crosses over into an addiction, someone’s sexual feelings might also be interspersed with feelings of anxiety, shame, depression, or regret. The individual may feel shame about their sexual urges and their difficulty controlling those urges.
They may even show signs of clinical depression or suicide ideation. Research shows that it isn't uncommon for people who are sexually compulsive to also show signs of depression, anxiety, and social anxiety. One study found that, among sexually compulsive men, 28% showed signs of depression, compared to 12% of the general population.
Excluding Other Activities
A sex addict may fixate on sex to the point where they have difficulty engaging in their other activities. They may fall behind on responsibilities in school, work, or their personal lives or become socially withdrawn. They may also prioritize sexual behavior over other forms of relaxation or hobbies. Relationships with friends, families, and partners may suffer because of this.
While masturbation can be a healthy way to explore sexuality and express sexual drive, excessive masturbation can be a sign of sexual addiction. This might look like compulsive masturbation, masturbation during inappropriate times, or even masturbation to the point of causing physical discomfort or pain.
Engaging in Risky or Inappropriate Behaviors
In some cases, sexual addiction can lead to inappropriate and/or risky sexual behaviors. This can include exhibitionism, public sex, sex without protection, and sex with prostitutes.
In some cases, this can lead someone to develop sexually transmitted diseases. Studies have shown that those who identify as sexually compulsive are more likely to develop sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.
Cheating on Partners
Someone with a sexual addiction may feel compelled to seek out sex with new partners, even if this means cheating on a partner or having an extramarital affair. They may seek out one-night stands on a regular basis or even cheat multiple times with different partners.
Committing Criminal Sex Offenses
In some extreme cases, people may engage in criminal activities like stalking, rape, or child molestation. While some sexual offenders may also be sex addicts, there is no evidence that sexual addiction can lead someone to commit sexual offenses.
Treating Sexual Addiction
Can a sex addict change? Yes, although it may require treatment from a medical professional like a psychologist, psychiatrist, or sex therapist.
Depending on the underlying cause and how it manifests in someone’s personal life, treatment may vary. If the sex addiction presents alongside another underlying anxiety disorder or mood disorder, the treatment plan may also include medications.
Forms of treatment can include:
- One-on-one therapy with a mental health professional
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Group therapy
- Support groups
- Inpatient treatment
- Couples counseling or marriage counseling
Sex Addiction: Top ten signs that you might be a sex addict
Most of us know that having a healthy sex life can only be a good thing. In healthy amounts, sex can:
- Boost the immune system
- Improve bladder control
- Reduce headaches
- Make us look younger
- Relieve stress
What is sex addiction?
Sexually expressive people are often viewed as more confident, happier, and generally tend to have more fulfilling relationships with the opposite (or same) sex. The problem arises when a person can no longer control their sexual impulses no matter how devastating the consequences might be.
Sex addiction is often conceptualised as the compulsive engagement in sexual acts without any regard for the negative consequences that may arise.
Interestingly, not every medical professional deems sex addiction in high enough regard, and, as a result, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), have not yet listed it as an official diagnosis.
Clinically, this often presents many challenges to those suffering from sex addiction, especially when it comes to receiving the support and treatment required for long-term abstinence.
Since sex addiction remains somewhat unrecognised within the mental health community, the diagnostic criteria for such an addiction are often vague and wishy-washy. Although many signs and symptoms may suggest that a person is suffering from sex addiction. These include:
- A person engaging in sex with multiple partners and having extramarital affairs
- The continuous urge for sex often followed by guilt, regret, shame and depression
- Continuously engaging in phone sex, pornography, and/or online sex
- Engaging in risky behaviours i.e. having sex in public places, with prostitutes or regularly attending sex clubs
- Being dominated by sex and having little time for any other activities
What causes sex addiction?
There is a whole host of theories around sex addiction, some perhaps more concrete than others. Although research shows that sex addiction often occurs as a result of the following scenarios:
- A person having a strong desire for control (impulsive control)
- When a person is diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Being diagnosed with a relationship disorder
- A person using sex as a way to cope with past trauma (such as childhood trauma and/or sexual abuse)
Other research suggests that biochemical factors in the brain could also play a role in sex addiction. Biochemical abnormalities and other changes in the brain significantly increases the risk of someone becoming a sex addict.
Since medications such as psychotropic medication and antidepressants have proven to help treat sex addiction, this might be suggestive that biochemical shifts could be responsible for the increased likelihood of someone becoming a sex addict.
According to scientific studies, food, drugs and sex, all share a mutual pathway to the reward and survival systems in our brains. This pathway leads to parts of the brain that are responsible for rational thought and judgement.
In this way, a sex addicts judgment is often impaired as the brain tells him or her that engaging in dangerous or illicit sex is good (in a similar way to how the brain tells us that food is good). There are no clear distinctions.
This might offer some insight into why highly competent people tend to fall into the sex addiction trap.
There are plenty of studies to suggest that highly ambitious, goal-driven people very often become distracted by sex and drug addictions.
Essentially, the brain tricks the body into a false sense of security by producing strong biochemical rewards for self-destructive behaviours.What are the signs of sex addiction?
There are several telltale signs that a person may have gone beyond the threshold of what is considered a ‘healthy’ sexual appetite.
#1. Sexual acts with multiple partners: Sex addicts are often unable to remain loyal to their partners due to their insatiable sexual appetites. This usually results in them engaging in risky behaviours such as cheating and engaging in sexual acts with multiple partners. Risky is the operative word here, as those who sleep around tend to have a much higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.
#2. Neglectful of responsibilities: Similar to any other addiction, sex addicts often put their desire for sex ahead of family commitments, job responsibilities, and pretty much anything else that isn’t sex-related. This can lead to financial difficulties, job loss, and even divorce if the neglect continues to spiral out of control.
#3. Indulging in trade-offs for sex: Almost all sex addicts are willing to trade their time and currency, particularly when illicit sex is the end game. The sexual cravings are too strong to resist, which means that sex addicts are often willing to part with their hard-earned cash and any spare time they get to satisfy those urges.
#4. The dismissiveness of risky sexual behaviour: What if I get caught cheating? Or contract a sexual disease from all the sleeping around? These are all normal questions a person would ponder on before doing the dirty deed. Sex addicts might run along this emotional parallel for a while, the difference being that all the pondering in the world doesn’t stop them regardless of the consequences.
#5. Unable to reduce the amount of time spent on sexual activities: Similar to substance addiction, sex addiction is often difficult to cut down on, since over time the sexual urges become stronger, not weaker. It’s easy to detect a sex addict as they struggle to minimise the amount of time they spend on sexually related activities (also similar to gaming and internet addictions).
#6. Inability to discuss the problem: If you’ve ever tried to speak to an alcoholic about their drinking, then you’ll likely come across the same problem with a person who is addicted to sex. You’ll likely experience the same level of denial and an inability to open up and discuss the problem. Not to say that it will never happen, however, the initial discussions can often be frustrating and worrisome for the addicts’ loved ones’ and family members.
#7. Loss of sexual functioning: This is particularly prevalent in young males who tend to view a lot of porn. Since the sexual ‘high’ they experience in pornography cannot be matched with a real life partner, they often experience erectile dysfunctioning as a result. Essentially, when a male engages in porn, his dopamine levels rise to an extreme level and this conditions the body to desire those high-arousal levels. When indulging in ‘normal’ sex with a partner, this conditioning can reduce the ability to function.
#8. Displaying strong disinterest in a partner: This is perhaps the most obvious sign of a relationship problem, where one partner is keen to have sex and the other isn’t. When one half of a couple begins to withdraw from sex, this is often a sign that something deeper is going on. This might not always signify a problem with sex addiction as such. However, if withdrawal from sex is accompanied by any other red flags, then it’s highly likely that sex addiction might be a contributory factor.
#9. Constantly watching porn: Constantly engaging in porn and sexual fantasies is another sign that someone might be suffering from sex addiction. This can cause many problems as real-life sex often cannot live up to the type of porn scenarios that people see online or on television.
#10. Feeling remorse or guilt after sex: Shame and guilt often accompany most addictions, and this is prevalent when it comes to eating disorders, too. The more the person eats, the guiltier they feel. It’s the same with sexual engagement. It feels good at the moment, but shortly afterwards, not so much. The type of ‘emotional hangover’ that a sex addict often experiences after engaging in risky sexual behaviour is nothing to be envied. These feelings of inadequacy often follow them around for a long time until they get their next ‘fix’ and the cycle ensues.
Although sex addiction is not currently an official diagnosis, treatment for the disorder is similar to other addictions such as behavioural addiction and substance misuse disorder. Recommended treatments that are currently available for sex-related addictions include:Medication
Specific drug therapies might be useful in reducing any urges a person may experience when in recovery (such as antidepressants). Although medication prescriptions are often at the discretion of each individual case and the advice of a doctor.12-step programs
Recovery programs such as Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) work in a similar fashion to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). These treatment programs address sex addiction and can be extremely beneficial for those seeking long-term recovery. The addict isn’t expected to give up sex entirely, just the compulsive and self-destructive behaviours that often accompany the addiction. 12-step programs usually consist of group meetings where individuals can support and offer encouragement to one another.Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Other known therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), are often used to treat addiction disorders and can help individuals to recognise any self- destructive thoughts and behaviours, that might be leading them down the wrong path. CBT is also known to help people identify any potential triggers and work towards adopting healthier coping mechanisms for the future.Art Therapy
Art therapy focuses on the use of creative imagination and techniques such as painting, sculpting, drawing and collaging. For those with an appreciation of the arts, and with the assistance of a therapist, individuals are assisted in decoding nonverbal metaphors that are often found in different art forms. This often promotes a deeper understanding of emotions, feelings, and behaviours that are often in need of being resolved.Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR therapy is often used by professionals to treat a wide range of traumas. Since trauma and addiction often go hand in hand, EMDR therapy can be especially helpful in combating the urge to engage in addictive -related behaviours. Patients are encouraged to focus on a particular traumatic event whilst engaging in rapid eye movements (guided by a therapist).
The purpose of EMDR therapy is to ‘rewire’ the brain so that any lingering trauma can no longer harm a person’s mental health. Individuals don’t necessarily forget the bad experience as such, but rather the negative feelings associated with a difficult or disturbing event tend to reduce in strength. Addressing underlying trauma is an essential element in the treatment of addiction and can have a long-lasting impact on recovery, in this instance, sexual sobriety is the end-goal.
At Tikvah Lake, we treat a whole range of addiction-disorders and other co-occurring mental health problems. Contact the team today to find out how we can help you.
He sat down and waited for his father to do the same, and when their eyes were on the same level, the asshole dared to smile nervously.
– About your last visit. When it was? Eight months ago?
– Exactly, – father's cunning eyes flickered over him. “You look like shit, son. Just like the last time I saw you.
Evan's chair creaked on the tiles as he stood up to leave.
– Oh come on. You shouldn't be so sensitive. Sit down.
With a wavering hand on the back of his chair, Evan looked at him.
Give your old man a break. Joke with me for a couple of minutes.
– I'm not here to play your games.
– Then why? What brings you to my famous home?
After returning to the chair, Evan crossed his arms over his chest.
– Okay, how about I start since you seem…angry about something.
– For something? And…” He stopped and looked around before giving him an annoyed look. What could it be, I wonder.
His father leaned back in his chair and crossed his ankles.
- As you can see, the conditions are still luxurious. I did electrical work instead of the kitchen, which shows in my physique,” he said, patting his hard abs. “Actually, I'm good with my hands, but maybe not as good as you. He winked, and Evan's stomach twisted.
- Finish this bullshit, huh?
– Then talk, Ev, and I'll stop.
Evan reluctantly moved forward and unhooked his hands, placing them on the table in front of him.
- Actually, I came to tell you that I got a job today.
His father seemed to perk up at this news.
Damn right on time. So where? L&P?
Evan shook his head.
– But it's finances, right? Baumgard?
- I decided to get a job at the Kelman Corporation.
A few seconds later, while his father was staring at him, before his stupefied expression changed to stunned, he began to laugh.
- Holy crap. For a second I thought you were serious,” he said, wiping away tears.
– I am really seriously.
“No,” he said, looking at Evan, “no, you can't be serious. Corporation Kelman ? Bill Kelman? Why?
Feeling confident, Evan straightened up in his chair and glared at his father.
- Because I chose them.
– Oh, please. No one would choose to work for Bill "Lame Leg" Kelman.
– Well, I chose.
Evan felt his skin tingle at his quick confession. There was one thing this man really knew how to do: read people. This turned him into one of the most successful money managers in the world - and the most notorious in a bad way.
- I don't think you chose them.
– Excuse me?
His father leaned over, unhooking his ankles and placing his hands on the table.
- I think you've searched all over Manhattan and found no other options for yourself, except for the Kelman Corporation.
You don't understand what you're talking about.
“I know what I’m talking about,” he drawled, as if nothing had happened. You came here dressed up. You're in a suit, your hair is up, and I'm sure the car you parked outside is sparkling. But it's all just an appearance, isn't it, Evan? Bags under the eyes, their expression... Boy, I've never seen you so haggard before. Don't try to hide it.
- For your fucking information, his "small" business represents several Fortune 500 companies...
- His company represents the bottom of the barrel, and you know it, his father interrupted.
– You know, it's funny to hear this from you, seeing you as the personification of this very fucking barrel.
A sly smile slowly crossed the father's face.
– And your mother? What did she say about this wonderful news?
Evan shifted awkwardly in place before answering.
She was transferred to North Carolina. I haven't had a chance to see her yet.
– Well, I think you should. I'm sure she'll enjoy seeing her son grow soft.
- I'm not soft.
– Then for Michelle's sake, let's hope it's true. What will she think of all this?
Evan felt his blood pressure rise as she sat there roasted by her imprisoned dad. Why did he always feel inferior to him, was subservient to him when it was obvious that the only one who should feel shame was his father.
– We are no longer together.
– Oh, how sad. You ended up in someone's bed and you broke up?
– You know, after the public humiliation we endured through your fault and twenty-two years here, don't you think you should be less judgmental?
Father's sharp eyes narrowed.
– I think you know better than me that people never change.
– Grandpa used to say that about you.
- Probably the only thing the asshole was right about.
Frustrated, Evan refrained from making a caustic remark and instead asked:
– Why do you talk about them like that? They interfered when you and your mom failed. Pretty impressive, it's worth noting.
His father snorted.
– If by showiness you mean being penniless and growing up a drug addict…
– Enough! Evan slammed his hands on the table, silencing the conversation around them. - Enough.
“Stop yelling,” his father hissed.
- In ten minutes wasted, you insulted me, insulted my work, and insulted the only people in the whole world who don't give a fuck about me.
His father looked at him and motioned for him to sit down.
– Don't call me. Evan could feel his hands shaking as he tightly clenched them into fists, preventing the man from seeing any signs of weakness. “You gave up that right a long time ago.
He raised his head.
– Then why are you here?
Because I'm used to messing up.
– You know what? I don't have a fucking clue. I'm over it.
– How long will you be gone this time? Months? Years?
– How much do you have left?
- Twenty if I'm a good boy.
- Exactly that much.
– Rockwell! the guard called at the door. - Time is over.
The sound of his former name echoed through the room as Evan watched his father get up but couldn't find anything to say.
"See you in a few months, Evan," he said, straightening his shirt as if he were wearing a custom-made scarf instead of a cheap prison uniform. Then he fixed him with a hard look. “You can never stay away.
He didn't say anything while his father was taken away from him, but he promised himself that he wouldn't come back here again.
As he walked out of the building to his car, he noticed the parking lights reflecting off the polished surface and remembered what his father had said. Climbing inside, he settled into the comfortable seats of his Range Rover and turned the ignition on before rolling down the windows.
He finally felt like he could breathe.
God, this man pissed him off. It had been a long time since he had last seen him, so he had already forgotten his dislike for him. From the fact that he simply did not love his father for his nature, or because he himself was like him, he did not want to think. In a way, he felt like he was constantly seeking the approval of this person, which, considering the circumstances, was simply ridiculous.
He didn't need his approval - he was already a big ass, after all.
What he needed was to remember the world he belonged to. One in which he was going to fight again and rise to the top once again.
He was Evan James, no longer Evan Rockwell, who lived in the shadow of his father's shame, and this time it would be on his terms.
Trying to shake off the prison dirt, he cleaned himself up, stopping for a haircut and a clean shave before putting on his best suit. The bar he had planned was very different from the one he had chosen for his last outing, but tonight he wanted something different. He didn't want a dirty alley hookup; he wanted high class flings. Someone who looks good, smells good, and even more so tastes good.
Sex or drugs? What is actually "Alice in Wonderland"
- Hevzib Anderson BBC Culture
Author photo, Trevor Brown
Generations of literary critics and scientists have nominated many theories. fairy tales by Lewis Carroll. "Alice" is about sex, drugs and colonialism, some argued. The tale is about eating disorders or the War of the Roses, others thought. A BBC Culture journalist tried to figure out what "Alice" was really about.
When the English say "disappear down the rabbit hole", they mean "fall into something unknown or get lost". You can fully feel the meaning of this expression if you make a request on the Internet "the hidden meaning of" Alice in Wonderland.
- Five things 'Alice in Wonderland' reveals about our brains0204
- Is Alice in Wonderland really about drugs?
During the century and a half of its existence, it has inspired dozens of films, paintings, ballets and computer games. She even left an imprint in medicine: a certain neurological syndrome is named after her.
However, the question that caused the most theories and debates was what Lewis Carroll really wanted to talk about. Look at the work of generations of literary critics, researchers, scientists and bloggers, and this seemingly innocent children's tale becomes an allegory of drug culture, a history of British colonization, or a neglected psychic case of a girl with penis envy.
Image copyright alamyImage caption,
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865 with vivid illustrations by Sir John Tenniel
The tale began life humblely. The story was invented by a certain Charles Dodgson to entertain his acquaintance, 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters, when they were boating on the Thames. However, the girl liked the story so much that she persuaded Dodgson to write it down, which he did under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.
Alice was the daughter of the dean of Oxford College, where Dodgson taught mathematics, and was far from the only girl with whom the young professor was friends. To a 21st century person, this friendship may seem a little strange, to say the least.
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At least there are no certificates about reprehensible, though, it's hard not to suspect a grown man who liked to play with his young girlfriends, put them on his knees and make them pose for photographs, often not overdressed.
At a time when society began to get involved in the theory of psychoanalysis and at the same time freed from Victorian hypocrisy, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" does not seem so innocent.
Carefully analyzing the text, the researchers found many images related to female and male physiology and sexual relations. One rabbit hole is worth something, but also a curtain that Alice must push back. Locks and keys - undeniably allude to coitus, and the Caterpillar ... isn't this an eloquent phallic symbol?
In the scene where Alice's neck suddenly stretches, many see a hint of erection and penis envy, which, according to Freud, little girls experience when they realize differences in anatomy. And in Alice's movements, when she starts fanning herself with a fan, and then decreases so quickly that she finds herself in salt water up to her chin, others see associations with masturbation.
Far from the truth
Some researchers believe that Alice's adventures tell not so much about sex as such, but about the growing up of a girl who turns from a child into a teenager. The heroine feels uncomfortable in her body, which is experiencing a number of different transformations.
Her self-perception becomes unstable and it is difficult for her to define who she is. She rebels against authority, and she has to make great efforts to understand the rules by which the people around her live, and even death.
The well-known literary scholar William Empson was so carried away by the analysis of the text that he declared that Alice "is at the same time the father who penetrates the hole of the hole, the embryo inside the hole, and Alice can be born only when she becomes a mother and can develop her own amniotic fluid."
Of course, it's hard not to think about what the author of the children's fairy tale wanted to say when he portrayed the Caterpillar smoking a hookah, especially surrounded by magic mushrooms. That is why, starting from the 1960s, supporters of the drug addict subculture began to perceive the adventures of Alice as one long drug trip (an altered state of consciousness caused by drugs. - Red .).
Image copyright, alamyPhoto caption,
Many believe that the text of "Alice" has a lot of hidden meanings: from sex and drugs to colonialism and political satire on Queen Victoria
The words of the song "White Rabbit" by the famous group Jefferson Airplane reinforced this association: "Remember what Sonya told you: feed your head, feed your head." Psychedelic sensations do not leave the reader from the beginning to the end of the tale: glasses with pills and potions, chaotic movements of time, the smile of the Cheshire Cat, which either appears or disappears.
Dodgson's favorite writer was Thomas de Quincey, the author of Confessions of an Englishman who used opium. However, although the creator of "Alice" treated his cold with homeopathic remedies, there is no evidence that he ever used hallucinogenic drugs.
However, associations with hallucinogenic substances remain stable, as evidenced by the words of the hero of the film "The Matrix": "If you take the blue pill, the story will end, you will wake up in your bed and believe what you want to believe. But if you take the red pill, you will stay in Wonderland and find out how deep the rabbit hole can go."
About kings and cabbages
However, "Alice" is not only about sex and drugs. Another group of literary critics see political satire in the fairy tale. When the heroine dives into the hole after the White Rabbit, she finds herself in a place that, despite its chaotic and various oddities, is ruled by an authoritarian and cruel queen and has a disorderly legal system that is very similar to that of Victorian England.
According to contemporaries, Dodgson was ambivalent about Queen Victoria, although she was one of his admirers.
What is Alice doing in this amazing country? Confused by the rules of life for the locals, she tries to impose her own values on them, sometimes with rather detrimental consequences. Is this not an allusion to the colonial policy of England?
Many questions are raised by the characters Walrus and the Carpenter, as well as the twins Tweedledum and Tweedle, who recited a poem to Alice. According to some interpretations, the Carpenter is Jesus, and the Walrus is the apostle Peter, while the oysters are their disciples. Others insist that it is about the British Empire, in which the Walrus and the Carpenter represent England, and the oysters represent the colonies. Even the British writer J.B. Priestley entered into the discussion and suggested that the Walrus and the Carpenter could represent two different types of politicians.
The author of the photo, alamyPhoto caption,
Some researchers believe that the Caterpillar is an eloquent phallic symbol. Be that as it may, its connection with the drug culture is indisputable
All these strange interpretations of the "real" meaning of "Alice", which were invented by generation after generation, actually demonstrate only one thing: how a change in public morality can radically affect the understanding of the text . But above all, this is evidence that the masterpiece of Lewis Carroll is an immortal creation and each era is looking for its own whims and problems in it.