Pornography Addiction: A Case Study
June 4, 2016
Understanding Fetishism
June 4, 2016

Understand Porn Addiction for the Addict and His Spouse

 

Since the inception of the Internet, porn addiction has become ubiquitous in our society.  Driven by the characteristics of easy access, anonymous and affordability, people who have never had a history of addictive tendency in their lives, become addicted to porn.  Also contributing to the highly addictive quality if that the constant flow of erotically charged visual images create a state that I call the “erotic haze” which is not an addiction to sex, per se, but an addiction to the neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, that floods the brain in anticipation of engagement in the activity.  Dopamine is the “feel good” chemical implicated in all addictions.  With porn, it creates the drive to always want more…more time, more quantity, more novelty and eventually, more deviance.  That’s why some people can spend untold hours in the “erotic haze”.  There’s never enough of what doesn’t really satisfy you.

To add to this, the last number of years, porn has moved away from just to the computer to all sorts of technology used for sexual turn-ons.  Interactive chat-rooms, live-streaming chat-rooms, smart phones, “sexting”, paid interactions with live models.  The reality is that sexual content and contact are readily available to anyone at the touch of a digital button.  You don’t even need a computer.  Laptops, tablets, e-readers, gaming platform and numerous other devise will serve you nicely.

The Good.  On the Internet, anyone can find a community to validate his or her personal interests and behaviors.  People with uncongenial  sexual “lifestyles” find like-minded others in the real world and computers can prude a supportive environment and way of connecting.  People feel less shame, less stigmatizing.

Couples sometimes use “soft porn” to explore new sexual techniques that enhance their sexual intimacy

When is it porn addiction?

  • Use digital technology compulsively to engage in sexual fantasy and behavior regardless of the negative consequences to themselves or others;
  • Living a double life; keeping information about sexual activity hidden from others;
  • Problems with anxiety, depression and other emotional challenges;
  • A history of other addictive behaviors; a history of childhood trauma, abuse or neglect;
  • Fears of being fully known to to others;
  • Using porn to replace deeply intimate relationships or peer support;
  • A history of intimacy problems;
  • lack of empathy towards those closest to them;

Understanding Porn Addiction

People become addicted to the intensity of sexual fantasy and behavior of porn for emotional distraction and self-soothing and are essential drug addicts, but instead of using something externally to numb or escape, they exploit their own internal pleasure-producing processes – that is, their own neurochemistry.  Over time, their life priorities shift from family, work, recreation and community to the repetitive pursuit of pleasurable stimulation of sexual content and activities.  Other people and healthy life experiences become secondary of their search for the high  provided by sexual fantasy, arousal and activity.  The self-induced neurochemical stimulations (especially dopamine) provide by hours of looking at porn becomes their “drug of choice.” Porn addicts keep themselves in a constant state of excitement through their searching, anticipating and fantasizing.  They can spend hours on end feeling intense emotional arousal without becoming physically aroused, masturbating or having an organism.  They have an obsessive search for and fantasy about finding the perfect image or video and can keep them distracted from stressful life situations every bit as effetely as any other mood-altering substances.

Porn addicts continue their behavior despite experiencing significant amounts of guilt and shame.

People do not become involved in porn due to lack in their intimate relationships because the two things are completely different.  Porn has nothing to do with intimacy and sex and, although a person can have a satisfying intimate relationship, he can still become ensnared in the neurochemistry of porn activity.

Signs of Porn Addiction

He spends a great deal of time on the computer. It is not uncommon for porn addicts to spend anywhere from three to six hours daily online. If you enter the room, he may flinch, toggle to another page or turn off the computer all together.

If your husband is not tech savvy, the history file will disclose their online traffic pattern. If they are tech savvy, they will have the history files clean so you are not able to see where they have been.

The porn addict spends a lot of time on the computer late into the night or right after work to ‘unwind’. The user may be using work as a cover for their activities by having to ‘work overtime’ at
home. (Working overtime in itself is not a sign of usage however, combined with the other signs it can be.)

Someone trying to hide their porn addiction may have email accounts or rental mailboxes that you may not be aware of. Many addicts will set up accounts specifically for their online and offline activity.

Your sexual life has dwindled, or is dead. You may find that your partner is no longer initiating sex.

OR you are asked to perform sexually on a very frequent basis often with requests that you may be very uncomfortable with.

He is overly obsessed with his male organ and/or grooming below the belt. He may be constantly touching himself, either
consciously or subconsciously, by ‘adjusting’ himself, jiggling change in his pocket, etc. He will openly talk about to you about his anatomy a lot and may expose himself on a regular basis. Some men may become overly conscientious with their personal hygiene and grooming in the pubic area.

The compulsive porn user frequently masturbates. This could be during long showers in the morning, during a work break in the car, even after sex. There may be a preference for climax through masturbation.

He may start receiving phone calls or text messages from those met online.

He keeps his cell phone in the car charger when at home

Steps Toward Getting Better

  • Go into therapy with a sex addiction therapist NY who is a specialist in both sex and addiction
  • Attend a 12-Step group such as Sex Addicts Anonymous or other support group such as faith-based organization or  AA-alternative such as “Smart Recovery”
  • Get involved in group therapy with other recovering porn addicts
  • Find an accountability (support) network or partner
  • Throw out all physical material related to problem.  Books, magazines, DVD’s flash drives, sex toys, hard drives.  Take everything to a commercial dumpster at least a mile from your house.
  • Delete downloaded files and emails related to acting out.  Delete all salacious contact information (IM address, webcam addresses, phone numbers) for acting out partners.  Delete sexual bookmark on your browser.  On smart phone, delete old sexts and texts from sex partners.  Delete sexual apps.  Disable webcams from digital devices.
  • Cancel memberships to websites, apps that service your addictive behavior.  Cancel credit cards used to pay for those services.
  • Face home/work computers in public-facing direction so others can see computer screen.
  • Place photo of wife/children as screen saver.
  • Install internet filtering software to not have access to sexually explicit material.  Install “Covenant Eyes”, a program that reports pornographic sites to third party (preferably therapist, not wife).
  • Make written list of all triggers and develop alternative coping strategies for dealing with them.
  • Fill in the time you spent looking at porn with pleasurable, social activities
  • Learn relaxation techniques to quell anxiety once quelled by looking at porn
  • Learn stress management techniques
  • Learn social skills and assertiveness skills
  • Learn healthy dating skills
  • Have your therapist teach you healthy intimacy and sexuality skills

Partners/Wives of Porn Addicts

  • Let yourself be hurt and angry – you’ve earned it!
  • Read up on sex addiction therapy
  • Commit yourself to your own self-healing;
  • Work towards empathy towards your partner – he’s a sick person
  • Don’t take it personally; sex addiction is a condition developed from conditions cultivated in early life; he brought it into the marriage with him; it has nothing to do with you
  • Don’t try to compete with porn queens.  A fantasy can’t compete with a real person;
  • Don’t have more sex than usual in an effort to make him stop
  • DON’T engage in sexual behavior that you find repugnant to compete with his deviant porn interests
  • DON’T play “snoop”; don’t constantly check his e-mails, computer hard-drives, smart phones and other devices to get “information” about his sexual behavior; you’re only trying to get a sense of control over that which you have no control and you’re creating pain for yourself;
  • Remember that these other “women” aren’t really “women” to him; they’re nothing more than “need-satisfying objects”
  • Get social support from other women who have walked in your shoes and have found a glimmer of hope; attend S-Anon, COSA (12-Step for partners of sex addicts) or Al-Anon.
  • Get into Couples Counseling with an experienced sex addiction therapist  NY trained in couples counseling.

 

 

www.sextreatment.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dorothy Hayden, LCSW has 20 years of experience treating sex and porn addicts, love addiction, codependency, fetishes, sadomasochism, "kink friendly", crossdressers and their wives, partners of sex addicts. She has been interviewed on "HBO", "20/20" and Anderson Cooper 360. Ms. Hayden has authored the book "Total Sex Addiction Recovery - A Guide to Therapy"

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