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Kevin Spacey's Seeing If Yoga Makes Him a Better Person

Your Skepticism Is Warranted

By Merle Ginsberg ·
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Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images

In the old days—like, five years ago—the best way to handle a scandal was:

1. hire a crisis manager.

2. apologize profusely.

3. disappear for a long, long time.

Kevin Spacey has already tried number 2,  sort of. It didn’t go well. He said he didn’t recall climbing on top of actor Anthony Rapp when Rapp was 14, on account of being drunk—then outed himself as gay—making it seem he believes being a gay male is an excuse for not just sex addiction—but sexual harassment of a teenager.

 Spacey didn’t just need a crisis counselor. He needed an apology counselor. What he got, instead, was a stint in rehab. Very pricey rehab.

 Just more than two weeks since he was outed as a repeat sex offender by multiple victims (they’re still coming out of the woodwork)—many of which were underage at the time—Spacey was spotted and papparazzi’d this week with a yoga mat, traversing the idyllic grounds of The Meadows rehab center in Wickenburg, Arizona, on 14 acres in the picturesque Sonoran Desert. He’s paying about 35 grand a month (he can afford it) for the specifically male sex addiction 45-day treatment program called “Gentle Path at the Meadows.” Graduates include Tiger Woods, David Duchovny and Michael Douglas—Harvey Weinstein checked in—probably on the advice of crisis counselors—but appears to be a drop out. Gentle Path was founded by Dr. Patrick Carnes, a 30-year veteran of working with male sex addicts.

 The Meadows website describes the men-only treatment program as a mixture of “group therapy, individual counseling, yoga, art classes, tai chi, acupuncture and equine therapy.” WTF? This is going to cure sex addiction? Should Louis CK and Brett Ratner be coerced into tadasana and shavasana? Can you see Roy Moore in the plant position?

 Trevor Noah quipped on The Daily Show:  “Wow! Yoga by the pool sounds less like rehab and more like the prize you win on Wheel of Fortune. Rich people are having a good time. This is how rich people get punished! Where do poor people go for sex rehab. Prison?” Of course, the requisite jokes were made after the yoga mat photos surfaced: Spacey’s getting his “om” on, he’s now a “downward dog” instead of just a horndog, etc.

 But here’s this: yoga is a known and oft-prescribed treatment for lack of sex drive, low orgasm ability and premature ejaculation. Not exactly Kevin Spacey’s problem.

 Now according to both addiction counselors and yoga experts, yoga actually does help sex addicts calm their anxious overactive libidos. Bikram yoga expert Kelly Benson, herself a recovering heroin addict, claims yoga provided her a spiritual quiet along with increased circulation and blood flow—meaning, controlled cravings. A Penn State study found that recovering addicts who don’t develop ways to cope with stress are more likely to relapse during recovery. In particular, the Penn researchers noted a link between stress and cravings to use a substance. Turns out, the ability to work through a stressful problem is a strong predictor of whether or not cravings arise. 

Author Johann Hari ,who wrote the 2015 book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, found in his research—both scientific and psychological—that the roots of addiction are in isolation and loneliness. Well, who could be more isolated than a double Oscar winning movie star/producer/singer?

New Scientist addiction expert Helen Phillips writes, “pleasurable behaviors trigger the release of the same chemicals (dopamine) and gene regulars in the brain.” The Kundalini Consortium of yoga experts says the only answer is “brain sublimation”: meaning, the pleasure button, or dopamine, needs to be transferred from the penis or the stomach or the brain to a kind of soothing calm and measured breathing, brought on by yoga and meditation. One result of yoga—often called “moving meditation”—is that it reprograms the brain to “crave peace,” balance, increased oxygen—it repurposes the brain chemistry.

So, yeah, Trevor Noah’s got a point—the rich are different for you and I, even when it comes to sex addiction. Maybe especially when it comes to sex addiction. On the other hand, consider this: Kevin Spacey gets out, goes recent convert, becomes a Sikh—an abstinent one—and opens a yoga school: “The Usual Satnam.” “Seven Treasures.” “American Beauty and Peace.” Or more to the point: “Celebrity Yoga.”

Merle Ginsberg is an overeducated pop culture critic/writer who likes to think she’s an intellectual—except she lives in L.A. and watches way too much TV and reads too many fashion magazines.

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