Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Pain of Pleasure: the Consequences of Porn Addiction

Fear of Exposure

Ah, internet porn.  The allure.  The arousal.  The excitement.  The taboo — not to mention the novelty, curiosity, safety,  intrigue.  All too enticing.  For the most part, irresistible.

Why would you even think of giving it up? — this secret world of yours where all your needs are magically met with no apparent effort on your part?

The next series of posts will remind you of some of the reasons you want to be free of it, and perhaps open your eyes to a few of the downsides that you’ve not yet considered.

Here’s what I suggest.  As we go through this material, type up your own list of negative consequences that keep you moving forward in your recovery.  Print out your individualized list and tape it to the bathroom mirror – or hang it on the refrigerator door.  Or print out a few copies and hang them at various places where you can’t miss it — over your bed, on the dining room table, or where ever.

AAers listen to endless stories about the consequences of their drinking days.  It’s called “keeping it green”.  That’s what I’m suggesting you do – keep it green.

Because you can bet odds that the time will come when you can only remember the bliss (euphoric recall) with none of the reasons that brought you to recovery in the first place.  This list of consequences will be your “bliss buster”, bringing you back to reality when all you can remember is the ecstasy.

The categories of consequences will be in the following areas:

  • Emotional/Psychological
  • Sexual
  • Physical
  • Career/Education Goals
  • Financial
  • Legal
  • Family
  • Spiritual
  • Overall lifestyle

Get ready.  It may be a bumpy ride.

Tagged , ,

Nine Lies of Pornography

How pornography lies to you

 

What kinds of ideas is porn putting into our heads? If the wrong things keep getting dumped in, your mental environment can get so polluted that your life is going to have problems. One of the most vital parts of mental environment is a healthy idea of who we are sexually. If these ideas are polluted, a critical part of who we are becomes twisted.

To Find Freedom from Porn Addiction: Recognize the Lies

You can’t learn the truth about sex from pornography. It doesn’t deal in truth. Pornography is not made to educate, but to sell. So, pornography will tell whatever lies attract and hold the audience. Porn thrives on lies — lies about sex, women, marriage and a lot of other things. Let’s look at some of those lies and see just how badly they can mess up your life and attitudes.

• Lie #1 – Women are less than human.
The women in Playboy magazine are called “bunnies,” making them cute little animals or “playmates,” making them a toy. Penthouse magazine calls them “pets.” Porn often refers to women as animals, playthings, or body parts. Some pornography shows only the body or the genitals and doesn’t show the face at all. The idea that women are real human beings with thoughts and emotions is played down.
• Lie #2 – Women are a “sport”.
Some sports magazines have a “swimsuit” issue. This suggests that women are just some kind of sport. Porn views sex as a game and in a game, you have to “win,” “conquer,” or “score.” Men who buy into this view like to talk about “scoring” with women. They start judging their manhood by how many “conquests” they can make. Each woman I “score” with is another trophy on my shelf, another “notch” in my belt to validate my masculinity.
• Lie #3 – Women are property.
We’ve all seen the pictures of the slick car with the sexy girl draped over it. The unspoken message, “Buy one, and you get them both.” Hard-core porn carries this even further. It displays women like merchandise in a catalog, exposing them as openly as possible for the customer to look at. It’s not surprising that many young men think that if they have spent some money taking a girl out, they have a right to have sex with her. Porn tells us that women can be bought.
• Lie #4 –A woman’s value depends on the attractiveness of her body.
Less attractive women are ridiculed in porn. They are called dogs, whales, pigs or worse, simply because they don’t fit into porn’s criteria of the “perfect” woman. Porn doesn’t care about a woman’s mind or personality, only her body.
• Lie #5 – Women like rape. 

When she says no, she means” yes” is a typical porn scenario. Women are shown being raped, fighting and kicking at first, and then starting to like it. Porn teaches men to enjoy hurting and abusing women for entertainment.

• Lie #6 – Women should be degraded.
Porn is often full of hate speech against women. Women are shown being tortured and humiliated in hundreds of sick ways and begging for more. Does this kind of treatment show any respect for women? Any love? Or is it hatred and contempt that porn is promoting toward women?
• Lie #7 – Little kids should have sex.
One of the biggest sellers in pornography is imitation “child” porn. The women are “made-up” to look like little girls by wearing pony tails, little girl shoes, holding a teddy bear. The message of the pictures and cartoons is that adults having sex with kids is normal. This sets the porn user up to see children in a sexual way.
• Lie #8 – Illegal sex is fun.
Porn often has illegal or dangerous elements thrown in to make sex more “interesting.” It suggests that you can’t enjoy sex if it isn’t weird, illegal or dangerous.
• Lie #9 – Prostitution is glamorous.
Porn paints an exciting picture of prostitution. In reality, many of the women portrayed in pornographic material are runaway girls trapped in a life of slavery. Many having been sexually abused. Some of them are infected with incurable sexually transmitted diseases that are highly contagious and often die very young. Many take drugs just to cope.

Tagged , , , ,

How Porn Makes You Stupid

Viewing porn increases arousal but decreases functions of frontal cortex, making it difficult to make rational decisions

 

Imagine two funnels, each inverted onto the other.  Both the top and the bottom of the funnel represent the cerebral cortex of our brains.  It’s what distinguishes us from animals.  Rational processes and higher level thinking live in the cerebral cortex.  The middle part of the funnel, the constricted part, represents the limbic system of the brain, responsible for instincts, feelings and survival (including food and sex).

At the top of the funnel, before beginning to view pornography, the individual enjoys a wide perspective of the world. Pornography addicts describe the top of the funnel as reality: their public self. Just as in the marriage funnel, the porn viewer begins blocking out distractions – but he is blocking out much more. He is alone. The object of his narrowing is pornographic images. Details of daily life, such as work and paying bills, slowly fall into disarray as the person starts blocking out all thoughts of God, his marriage, family, morals, commitments, and consequences.
The Release of Natural Chemicals: The porn viewer’s brain begins releasing endogenous chemicals. The viewer feels highly aroused – all of the stress, pressures, anxieties and pain in life begin fading away as his system is flooded with endogenous drugs. The viewer is able to self-medicate and escape the reality of life.
Dopamine: Elevated levels of dopamine in the brain produce extremely focused attention. This causes the viewer to focus intensely on the pornographic images at the exclusion of everything else around him.
Norepinephrine: This chemical induces feelings of exhilaration and increased energy by giving the body a shot of natural adrenaline. Norepinephrine also increases memory capacity. This explains why porn addicts can recall viewed images with vivid clarity years later.
Testosterone: Pornography triggers the release of testosterone which in turn increases the desire for more pornography.
Oxytocin: Oxytocyn acts as a natural tranquilizer. The individual seeks an Oxytocin rush to cope with the stress and pressure of life.
Serotonin: The release of this natural chemical evokes a deep feeling of calmness. Individuals turn to porn to self-medicate and escape the stress.
The Experience is More Than Just Sexual: There is a lot more going on in the Pornography Funnel than sexual arousal. In fact, if you remove sexual arousal from the process, any similarities to sexual intimacy in a healthy marriage would cease. While sliding down the Pornography Funnel, a tidal wave of conflicting and confusing images and messages wash over the viewer.

Visual images are stored as emotional memories in the brain before the logic center realizes what has happened. When the logic brain catches up, it brings on a “fight or flight” type response. The adrenaline gland sends out cortisol, the “stress hormone,” which in turn activates myriad body-system processes to counteract stress. In essence, the entire pornography process is intensified and supercharged, far beyond what sexual arousal alone would accomplish. The human system is not designed to deal with this overwhelming level of conflicting stimulations.This is why many neuropsychologists refer to pornography as “visual crack cocaine”.
An Empty and Hollow Climax: When one uses pornography to reach climax, the brain desensitizes to the images, habituates to them, and eventually becomes bored. An increase in the variety of images and/or time spent on the Internet is required to maintain stimulation levels. In a healthy marriage relationship, sexual intimacy is only a part of everything else going on in the couple’s life. So when the couple “brings all of that into the bedroom,” it is highly unlikely that the brain will habituate to the sexual process.
When Reality Returns – the Hopeless Dialogue: When the porn viewer emerges from the narrowest part of the funnel back to a wide perspective, the heartless “drug-high” of pornography and climax quickly dissipate. Suddenly his rational thinking returns and the hopeless dialogue begins: “What have I done? What was I thinking?” He wasn’t thinking; that was the problem! Once he descends into the Pornography Funnel, he gives up his ability to “think”. The overpowering flood of chemicals overrides his cognitive thought and reasoning abilities. The frontal lobes – the logic center of the brain – are virtually shut down and the limbic system, which controls the pleasure/emotional center of the brain, takes over. (Kastleman, p39-57 The Drug of the New Millennium – The Science of How Internet Pornography Alters the Human Brain and Body)
I hope you now have a better understanding of why pornography can be so addictive.

Tagged , , ,

What Makes a Porn Addict?/Dorothy Hayden, LCSW

Many factors go into the psychological make-up of a porn addict

 

Some people believe that mature, well-balanced person with no “issues” can get addicted to porn because the porn itself is so intrinsically addictive.  They hypothesize that when they acquire the skills necessary to get it out of their live, BOOM.  Case closed.  They’ve had successful treatment.  That could be true for them.

I’m of a different mind.  I think that there are certain attitudes and behaviors, that beginning in childhood (ages 13-17),  become sexual “imprints” in their minds that stay forever without therapeutic intervention.  Some of the key elements in the development of porn addiction are:

  • Starting at a young age
  • Controlling or protective parents
  • Uninvolved parents
  • Exposure to an unhealthy model of relationships,
  • A Negative Social system
  • Early childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse

A majority of people who struggle with addiction have lived in homes where their parents were strict, rigid, and controlling, OR they were disinterested, disengaged in the child’s lives.

Other homes can be full of chaos.  Parents who are emotionally wounded themselves project their self-hatred onto their children in the form of shaming them.  A shamed child is a self-hating child.

In light of his fear of living in a dysfunctional family, the child seeks SAFETY — a reprise from feeling fear, loneliness, inadequately and self-hatred.

Then pornography gets into the scene.  Instant relief; a safe place to hide where he can feel OK through pleasure.  He turns away from people as a source of nourishment and support.  He turns within himself and creates a fantasy world that magically meets his every need.

I think that’s part of what makes for a porn addict.  More thoughts about this to come.

Tagged , ,

Create a Porn-Free Environment/Dorothy Hayden, LCSW

image photo : Family Playing Board Game At Home

One of the reasons porn is so alluring is that it’s so accessible (besides being affordable and anonymous).

Once you’ve clearly seen the destructive effects of porn on your life and have determined to get help for treating you’re addiction, the first order of business is limiting accessibility.

Obviously, if you want to quit porn, you will need to get it out of your home, your office, and any other locations where you typically used it.  When I went into recovery in AA 30 years ago, on the second day of meetings-attendance, a support person came home with me and we poured out the booze together.

You’ll get the physical and psychological distance needed to help you break free.  Without porn in your environment, you’re more motivated to get in interested in finding non-sexual pleasurable activities.

Here’s a round-up of the usual tips.

  • Just get the stuff out. Box up tapes, DVD’s videos, CD;s, computer files and cable porn channels.
  • Cancel all subscriptions to Web site porn. Deposit in a dumpster.
  • Change to a family-oriented Internet service provider.
  • Change your e-mail address
  • Install an Internet filter (discussed in another post)
  • Move the computer to a public area in your home.
  • Buy a new hard drive or a new computer
  • You may have to cancel Internet service for a period of time.
  • Cancel memberships at video rental stores.
  • Stay out of R or unrated movies.
  • When traveling, call ahead to have sexual content removed from the TV, or get a room with no TV.
  • If you can avoid it, don’t travel with a laptop.  If you must use a computer, use in only in public places.  Alternatively, leave the computer at home and use the hotel’s business center or local Internet coffee house.  Business trips are a huge trigger for many men, so plan ahead!
  • Go online only when someone else is home.  At work, use the computer only during business hour.  Avoid being alone in the office.
  • Go online for e-mails only.  If you need information or data from the web, let a support person do it.
  • Don’t instant-message anyone who isn’t a friend, support person or family member.
  • Display motivational photos on your computer.  Pictures of your family or a photo of your church or minister will do.  Pick any images that remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Avoid material accessed online with a cell phone, MP3 player, or PDA.  It can be more difficult to block.
  • Tell friends, relatives and coworkers not to send you porn or links to porn.
  • When you must go online, immediately click in to an online support forum for porn addicts.  I recommend http://www.no-porn.com.
Tagged , ,

Internet Sex Screening Test

Internet Sex Screening Test

Directions: Read each statement carefully. If the statement is mostly TRUE, place a check mark on the blank next to the item number. If the statement is mostly false, skip the item and place nothing next to the item number.

___ 1. I have some sexual sites bookmarked.
___ 2. I spend more than 5 hours per week using my
computer for sexual pursuits.
___ 3. I have joined sexual sites to gain access to
online sexual material.
___ 4. I have purchased sexual products online.
___ 5. I have searched for sexual material through an
Internet search tool.
___ 6. I have spent more money for online sexual
material than I planned.
___ 7. Internet sex has sometimes interfered with my
certain aspects of my life.
___ 8. I have participated in sexually related chats.
___ 9. I have a sexualized username or nickname that
I use on the Internet.
___10 I have masturbated while on the Internet.
___11 I have accessed sexual sites from other
computers besides my home.
___12 No one knows I use my computer for sexual
purposes.
___13 I have tried to hide what is on my computer or
monitor so others cannot see it.
___14 I have stayed up after midnight to access
sexual material online.
___15 I use the Internet to experiment with different
aspects of sexuality (e.g., bondage,
homosexuality, anal sex, etc.)
___16 I have my own website which contains some
sexual material.
___17 I have made promises to myself to stop using
the Internet for sexual purposes.
___18 I sometimes use cybersex as a reward for
accomplishing something. (e.g., finishing a
project, stressful day, etc.)
___19 When I am unable to access sexual
information online, I feel anxious, angry, or
disappointed.
___20 I have increased the risks I take online (give
out name and phone number, meet people
offline, etc.)
___21 I have punished myself when I use the Internet
for sexual purposes (e.g., time-out from
computer, cancel Internet subscription, etc.)
___22 I have met face to face with someone I met
online for romantic purposes.
___23 I use sexual humor and innuendo with others
while online.
___24 I have run across illegal sexual material while
on the Internet.
___25 I believe I am an Internet sex addict.
___26 I repeatedly attempt to stop certain sexual
behaviors and fail.
___27 I continue my sexual behavior despite it
having caused me problems.
___28 Before my sexual behavior, I want it, but
afterwards I regret it.
___29 I have lied often to conceal my sexual
behavior.
___30 I believe I am a sex addict.
___31 I worry about people finding out about my
sexual behavior.
___32 I have made an effort to quit a certain type of
sexual activity and have failed.
___33 I hide some of my sexual behavior from
others.
___34 When I have sex, I feel depressed afterwards.

© Delmonico, 1999

Get an Internet Filter — NOW!!

You may be warring with the temptation to view pornography all day, every day, even on weekends and holidays. It does not take a rest, no matter who you are. It is there, ready for you to grab at it, live on the internet. Without an internet filter, it could only get worse for the addict.

Those who don’t, or haven’t suffered from this or any addiction may simply wonder why the addict doesn’t just stop, walk away from it. This is a fool’s question, as anyone who has suffered from any type of addiction can attest. Once caught up in an addiction, the addict is trapped in a way that no non-addict could ever know about. Even when facing the possibility of destroying a relationship, it is still not easy to break free. Being a disorder of the mind, it needs treatment, not just an internet filter, and more than just saying “Walk away.” That’s like asking a fly to just walk off the flypaper.

I have a hunch that you may be unable to resist looking at sexual images when they come across the screen.  You may have a feeling that you need porn rather than desire it, after you come across it.

Then there are other unique signs, signs that aren’t so across the board, that you actually have to look closely at the symptoms to be sure. Spending too much time wrapped up in porn, trying to cut back but not doing so good, letting it slowly encroach upon your day to day life to where it begins to take over, letting it disrupt work, home, school and even your social life, and you feel helpless because you know you have a problem but feel you can’t do anything but submit to it. Having an internet filter, but never installing it. Lastly, you experience unnecessary agitation, even anger, if you can’t get to some porn.

A superior family internet filter is where it the process of gaining control over your behavior begins. You don’t have to throw the computer out the upstairs window to take this step. Nothing more drastic than adding the right internet filter. Talk to your loved ones about this problem, and get them on board with this solution. This is a simple solution, and it is a first step only, but a good first step to achieving freedom.

There are three reasons internet porn is so alluring and addictive:  accessibility, affordability and anonymity.

A filter simply cuts back on the accessibility factor.  Now, you rascals, you’re going to tell me that you can always dismantle the filter.  That may be true.  But if you have a code that you don’t memorize and give it to a trusted friend or a therapist, it will be more difficult to disengage it.  Even if you keep the code written down and placed someplace away from the computer, it buys you time to think and reflect.

Some experts consider sex addiction as an impulse control disorder.  That’s the deal — to learn to reflect and consider rather than just automatically acting on your impulses.  Babies act on impulse.  And surely you’re more mature than that, yes?