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Sex, Love, and Addiction

Sep 27, 2018

Kelly McDaniel is an expert on women and addiction. Her deep empathy in the field helps women find, develop and be okay with themselves despite the trauma that may have occurred in early attachment. Today, she speaks about her upcoming book “Mother Hunger”, the lasting patterns that emerge due to early trauma, and how Mother Hunger treatment is different that typical sex and love addiction treatment.



[1:04] Kelly McDaniel, LPC, NCC, CST, maintains a private practice in Nashville, where she specializes in the treatment of adults and couples. In addition, she is an EMDR trained therapist and member in the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), and holds an education of an MA from Georgetown University and St. Mary’s University.

[1:39] In 2008, Kelly’s first book “Ready to Heal” came out, written for women healing from addictive love and sex. The book kicked off that women needed gender-specific information in a culture that objectifies female bodies and women’s wisdom.

[2:38] In 2012, the second edition was expanded to include a chapter on McDaniel’s original term “Mother Hunger​.” Mother Hunger​ is a concept that has assisted both clinicians and clients to identify the origin of addictive relationships and foster the healing process. Currently, Kelly is offering two, three-day therapeutic Intensives for women who are exploring their relational patterns in depth.

[5:31] Kelly finds her work resonates with both clinicians and the women that seek help.

[7:02] Kelly defines “Mother Hunger” as a form of pre-verbal trauma that occurs in early attachment (5 weeks into conception in utero to age 3) that affects a woman’s belief system, physiology, psychology and relationship capacity.

[8:37] A neglected child that is left hungry for connection, touch or love will turn to dissociation, or a freeze state, in order to protect and comfort themselves.

[13:32] Our most basic idea of what a good partner would be is deeply affected when we are neglected or abused. When Kelly works with women in betrayal, it is a replay of the original wound and a map of where to go to heal.

[17:22] The first ways we take in the world are through our mother’s love and some form of feeding and nourishment. These traumas are related to our most primitive stages of love, and continue to play romantically with both our current day lovers and support system or lack thereof.

[20:46] Crisis is when your emotions and intellect is out of balance, and you are so invested emotionally in a situation that you are not thinking clearly. When those who have Mother Hunger get into a relationship, they get weighed down by the emotional need that comes up with the possibility of finally being loved.

[21:37] Mother Hunger treatment is very different than standard sex and love addiction treatment. It is more related to the treatment in EMDR and somatic training, and sitting inside the grief for a longer intensive amount of time.

[24:04] Women with Mother Hunger haven’t yet built a sense of identity, community or trust within themselves and others.

[27:25] We profoundly underestimate postpartum depression and how that affect the ability to give love and nurturing.

[29:39] The trauma forms before language, and is wired in to the body as the norm for what the world feels like.

[31:30] Women with Mother Hunger transfer their attachment needs to men early on.



Sex and Relationship Healing


Sex Addiction 101

Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men

Prodependence: Moving Beyond Codependency

Kelly McDaniel

Ready to Heal: Breaking Free of Addictive Relationships

Mother Hunger

Partner Hope

Dr. Kenneth Adams

Christine Courtois



  • “There is a huge gap between I am safe and I feel safe that goes into adulthood.”
  • “If your responsiveness from your most important caregiver is impaired from the start, then you don’t even have a sense of what normal or healthy is, because you have never experienced it.”
  • “Our first love is our mother.”
  • “Women gain strength from each other. One of the ways healthy women even tolerate men are with the help of other women.”