Overcoming Pornography Part 2: The Reason People Love Porn and the Vicious Downward Cycle (Continued…)

In the last post, I began the discussion of addiction and the vicious cycle it can bring upon an unsuspecting person.  I specifically talked about the cycle as it relates to pornography.  With most people that are addicted to pornography, as mentioned in the last post, the first two downward steps in the cycle are 1) Fantasy and 2) Ritual. In this post, we will continue to look at the downward spiral of addiction.

3) Acting Out

This stage is when the person fantasizing and creating rituals for themselves actually engages in the act of viewing pornography. This is when all the inward justification has taken shape and is now resulting in the person looking at pornography. A person reading this post might ask, “Zach, why is this so bad? I’m ‘only’ masturbating when I look at it. It’s better than me doing something way worse, like actually cheating on my wife isn’t it?” There is almost a spirit of entitlement in this stage, as if the person feels like they ‘deserve’ to masturbate or watch pornography. To that person, I would agree with Laaser when he says that the person who thinks that way “actually believes that to ‘only’ masturbate is a complete moral victory, because a more serious sin is avoided. By this we do not mean that masturbation as such is wrong or a sin. What is really important is whether or not it involves compulsive or obsessive acts that have a negative effect on a person’s healthy sexuality and/or sexuality.” 

4) Despair

The previous three stages almost always lead to the fourth stage, and that is despair. Laaser says that 71% of addicts have considered suicide as a viable option at this stage. This is when the thrill and excitement is gone, and the person is left there by themselves, with only their conscience as a companion. At this point, prayers are said and promises of commitment are made by the person who has just acted out. Computers are thrown out or someone pays for some protective software, which is suppose to cause them to never look at porn again. And this is a miserable place for most people. The coping mechanisms begin. The coping can be in the form of another addiction, called a cross-addiction, such as a person dealing with his or her despair by getting drunk. In today’s world, once reaching the despair stage, this person could use social media or technology as a form of coping, such as a Netflix binge.  Technology addictions are obviously becoming more and more prevalent everyday. Another example is one involving pastors and ministers. Laaser gives the example of the pastor in the despair stage who tries to “medicate their pain with a religious workaholism. They may receive lots of affirmation for being so ‘faithful’ and hardworking.” However, this is only a fleeting attempt to cure their despair. Soon, in order to end the despair, fantasies will take place again. Thus, the cycle begins all over again.

My hope in sharing all of this is not to cause discouragement in you, but it is to give you a true understanding of what is happening within you or someone else you know. I believe the saying, that “knowledge is power.” When I struggled with anxiety, it was so freeing to understand the struggle within myself. It also was freeing to know that someone else understood me, and I wasn’t alone and crazy. In fact, people had written books about me and my struggle. I hope this knowledge is comforting for you as well.

Part 3 Coming Next!

borrowing hope,

Zach

 

(Side Note. You might have noticed I am quoting. Dr. Laaser a lot in these posts. Dr. Laaser has A LOT of great resources available to those struggling with addiction. I do not claim to be a smart man. I simply read other smart men and women and share with you what I am learning from them. Please keep following the hopetown blog, but I would also strongly encourage you to read Dr. Laaser’s materials as well.)