The Vicious Cycle of Porn Addiction


The addiction cycle progresses through a four-step process that intensifies with each repetition:

  1. PREOCCUPATION — The “Erotic Haze” wherein the mind is totally engrossed with sexual fantasies. This state is intensely pleasurable in itself and a person can stay in in anywhere from 4-14 hours.  It is a “dissociative” state, meaning that the person has withdrawn from outer reality and from his own feelings, wants and needs.  Basic self-care may slip away and the addict has no awareness of the existence or needs of others.
  2. RITUALIZATION — the person’s individualized routines that lead up to the sexual behavior can be more pleasurable than sexual acting out.  A client of mine used to hire escorts every time he went on a business trip from home.  He reported that the planning; choosing the hotel, doing research on the woman he would be with, going to sites where prostitutes are “rated” and pouring through photographs of potential sex partners were more engrossing and exciting that actual sex.
  3. SEXUAL ACTING OUT — the end goal of the preoccupation and ritualization, the person who has entered into this phase of the cycle no longer has control over his behavior.
  4. DISILLUSIONMENT AND SHAME —  Immediately following sexual release, reality sets in.  The addict feels poignantly that he’s been chasing a phantom, that the needs he’s seeking to get met through sex CAN”T be met through sex.  He despairs that he keeps doing the same thing with the ever-present consequence of disappointment and shame.  He feels like a fool.  These intense, unwanted inner states are difficult to handle for a person who’s only coping skill is sexual acting out.  He has no skills for soothing himself from within and begins to look to another “fix” to make him feel normal.  He returns, inexorably, to the beginning of the cycle.

There IS HOPE.  Over time, the skills of recovery will be learned and we’ll discover together some pretty potent ways for breaking the chain of addiction.

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One thought on “The Vicious Cycle of Porn Addiction

  1. Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

    Like

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