Do Not Fear

June 24, 2009

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”Marie Curie

Many of the men and women I work with who are affected by pornography/sexual addiction experience intense feelings of fear.  They fear that the addiction will never go away.  They fear that they will be exposed to pornography again in the future.  They fear that they won’t be able to resist looking.  They fear their children will be exposed to pornography.  The list goes on.

The fears are understandable.  The toll that pornography/sexual addiction exacts on individuals and families is profound and it most certainly grabs the attention of those affected by it.

However, fear is something that makes it harder to fight this dreaded scourge.

Individuals who work to understand this problem become better able to overcome it and prevent it from affecting themselves and those...

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The Sanctity Of Womanhood

I’ve been behind on posting to this blog for a week due to the arrival of my first daughter.  She was born last week and is doing very well.  Even though I have three sons, welcoming a daughter into our family has caused me to ponder on the sacredness of womanhood.  Pornography makes a complete mockery of womanhood as those who produce and consume pornography objectify, control, and manipulate women’s bodies for self-gratification.  Although I’ve taught for years the truth that viewing these “actresses” as somebody’s daughter can help addicts reduce objectification and fantasy, I can’t help but feel the truth about this idea more forcefully now that I have my own daughter in my home.

The desire I have to protect my daughter’s body, her dignity, and honor is difficult to describe.  The thought of others using her body to satisfy their own urges fills me with disgust and anger.  My own...

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Isolation And Self-Loathing

I think one of the most dangerous conditions a recovering individual can experience is the combination of feeling self-loathing and isolation.  Self-loathing, or shame, is a common experience for those in recovery.  It is usually something most recovering individuals feel long before their addiction starts (as you know, addiction is actually a cover-up for feelings of shame….more on this in a future blog post).  This self-loathing is based in the belief that one is unacceptable to others, including God.  Because of these feelings of shame, most addicts are tempted to stay in isolation and secrecy.  They hide from their most important relationships and don’t want to be exposed with their mistakes.  It’s difficult for them to see their mistake as learning opportunities.  Instead, the mistakes reaffirm their feelings of self-loathing, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of negativity.  The only way to break out of...

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Don't Overreact!

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New Conversations With Our Children

My friend and colleague, Dr. Jill Manning, was featured recently in an interview with the LDS Church News on the subject of talking with children and families about pornography.  She encourages all of us to have “new kinds of conversations about pornography — ones that go beyond scary statistics, frightening forecasts, graphic details and dire realities, and which shift into dialogs that are empowering, hopeful and arm people with practical strategies for being able to address this issue in their own homes effectively.”  In the article, she lists several of these strategies.  You can purchase a DVD copy of her presentation on this very subject that was delivered at the 2009 Utah Coalition Against Pornography.  

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Measuring Success

I recently read a quote from a leader in the LDS Church, Elder Robert D. Hales, on the subject of addictions.  He said, “Our success is never measured by how strongly we are tempted but by how faithfully we respond”.  What a reassuring thought!  

I have found in my work with men and women who struggle with addictive behaviors that they often shame themselves when they feel strong temptation to slip back into old patterns of behaving.  Many feel like they haven’t made any progress if they still feel tempted.  On the contrary, the fact that they can recognize and respond in different ways is evidence that they have made progress.

No one has escaped temptation on this earth.  Those in recovery from sexual addiction will experience a lifetime of temptation in a variety of presentations.  There is no discouragement intended in this statement.  Instead, it is a realization that the ability to recognize and respond...

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Pornography Is Drug Abuse

Dr. Don Hilton is quoted in this excellent article on pornography addiction.  I agree with his point that it takes about two years for an individual addicted to pornography to reset their brain to normal dopamine levels.  After their brains have readjusted, they are able to better enjoy things in life that are interesting and stimulating to most people.  This has been my observation over the years of working with individuals struggling with pornography addiction and it’s great to see others talking about it in such clear terms.  Teaching the brain that it needs high levels of stimulation in the form of dopamine surges only leaves the addicted individual full of chronic disappointment and dissatisfaction with his life and relationships.  

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Coming Out Of Hiding

Most people who look at pornography have a reflex to hide what they’re doing.  That’s because pornography, while highly intoxicating to the brain and body, creates a disconnect from oneself, from God, and from others.  This disconnect produces a conflict of values and a negative view of self, which ultimately produces deep shame and self-loathing.  The universal reaction to shame is to hide.

The disconnect from self happens first before the disconnect from others.  In order to slide down the slope toward pornography consumption, an individual must start disconnecting from his feelings.  Every individual I’ve worked with on their pornography addiction admits that they had to ignore or disconnect from their feelings in order to move forward with their behavior.  Anytime we disconnect and do something we don’t consciously agree with, we have to hide from ourselves.  Otherwise, it’s too painful to have it...

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Where Is The Line?

I have lots of inquiries from well-meaning individuals who want to know where the line is as it relates to infidelity.  Some wonder if the adage “you can look but don’t touch” counts as infidelity.  Most people would agree (minus Bill Clinton) that any sort of sexual contact is considered infidelity.  I prefer the use the following definition that was given by a religious leader by the name of Gene R. Cook.  He said, “You are not to turn on or be turned on by anyone that is not your spouse.” 

This definition requires the listener to consider how their actions, thoughts and feelings are affecting them and those around them.  I believe we could all use a little more self and other-awareness.  I like that his definition refutes the “look but don’t touch” belief.  Additionally, it keeps sexual energy where it belongs – in the stability and safety of a marriage...

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Porn And Culture

Here is a recent article from Newsweek:  http://www.newsweek.com/id/162792/output/print

I appreciate the writer’s desire to expose the effect that pornography is having on popular culture, but I believe they are victims of the same seduction.  They seem confused by whether or not porn really has a place in our culture.  Of course, I do not believe it has a place.  I believe it miseducates and distorts and destroys healthy sexuality, men, women, and intimacy.  Read it for yourself and decide what you think!

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