Compulsive Sex & Porn Use

Compulsive Sex & Porn Use

Compulsive sexuality and pornography use are fueled by shame, past wounds and emotional patterns that are often beyond conscious understanding. Early treatment models of these difficulties, by many professionals, were based on seeing individuals as deficient, sick and addicted. It is a damaging myth that all people who engage in compulsive use of pornography and sexual acting out are “addicts” with an illness. Excessive use is often an unknowing attempt to heal the Self of underlying issues as well as a pattern of behavior that is pushing us to grow personally. The reasons for use and the often frenetic activity that drives sexual compulsivity needs to be examined and understood without judgment or difficulties can become even more problematic. It is very important to choose a knowledgeable, experienced and compassionate professional when seeking help to change….

When a part of us is aware that there is a healing process taking place and we are told we are sick or addicted we are often left with feelings of confusion, shame, guilt and even anger. These feelings can perpetuate a vicious cycle leading to more excessive use, feelings of failure and hopelessness, and increased shame and guilt. When met with individuals who use sex compulsively many professionals prescribe a period of complete abstinence from all sexual behavior as an initial intervention. This too can make problems worse as it is rarely possible to make it though the period of abstinence. Once again, feelings of failure and shame follow with an even stronger desire to do the act now labeled as “forbidden”. In my many years of treating this problem I have never found complete abstinence a workable solution. First of all, we rarely make it through the abstinence period because “what we resist persists” and we always desire to do that which is forbidden. So, now the desire to use becomes even greater. When we are told by a source outside of our self how to conduct ourselves sexually it prevents us from developing a healthy relationship to sex, intimacy and our personal erotic needs and desires. I believe the approach to healing should always be one based on the uniqueness of each individual and situation. I also believe that if given the chance, and when viewed as healthy people going through a healing process we will, when given the right kind of support, time and space, develop self understanding as to what our healthy sexual needs are and how we want to express them. When abstinence is prescribed from someone out side of our self, I compare it to telling a person with an eating disorder to stop eating. We all need sex just as we need food. We will rebel when told how and when we should have sex, just as we rebel when told how and when we should eat.

I spent years a as a therapist treating eating disorders prior to my work with compulsive sexuality. I always found that the people who dieted and restricted food the most in their lives had the hardest time learning to become normal eaters. In addition, they had the most difficult eating disorders to treat. My approach to treating sexual compulsivity is similar. I use an individualized approach based on the problem and the individual. People need to eat and it is obviously healthy to do so, just as it is healthy to have sex.

The healing philosophy behind my work is to first see you as a healthy individual going through a healing or growth process and then give you the assistance you need in order to develop deeper understanding concerning the expression of your sexuality. I recommend that you question yourself and become more introspective. Is the expression of your sexuality that you have used in the past or present still working for you? Do you ever feel as if your behaviors are out of your control? Are you seeking out more extreme forms of erotic stimulation because the old ones no longer work for you? The deeper you move into more extreme forms of sexual acting out or pornography use, the more you may experience shame if your practices are incongruent with you basic values.

The phases of therapy I use are often threefold:

First I help you decrease shame and guilt. Next, I work to help you to develop a deeper understanding of the meaning behind your use by analyzing your sexual fantasies. Finally, I assist you in changing your Erotic Template. The Erotic Template is eloquently described in the book “The Erotic Mind” by Jack Morin, PhD. Changing does not mean that you stop experiencing sexual pleasure. It actually means that your sex life becomes more pleasurable and you learn to allow yourself to experience what you have longed for in life, a sex life that is more connected, intimate and ultimately much more satisfying. You begin to have the kind of sexual experiences that you ultimately have always hoped to have but have not known how to obtain. In order to develop a deeper understanding of what your compulsive behaviors may mean, it is important to examine your sexual fantasies as well as the type of pornography you tend to use with objectivity and acceptance. What you are attracted to in fantasy or through pornography use–also a form of sexual fantasy–always has deeper meaning. Sharing these intimate details of your sexual fantasies can be difficult as we have been well trained not to talk about these things. So, it is very important that the therapist you work with feels completely comfortable with their sexuality and can talk about sex with ease and understanding, and that you feel comfortable talking to your therapist.

Sexual Fantasy Analysis

One healing process I use is Sexual Fantasy Analysis. Sexual Fantasy Analysis is similar to dream analysis as a sexual fantasy is like a dream state and both occur in altered states of consciousness. Pornography use allows you to enter a temporary fantasy, like entering a dream. All dreams as well as sexual fantasies have much deeper meaning than that which appears on the surface. It is very difficult to see yourself objectively when analyzing sexual fantasies. Fantasies have deeper meaning that can not often be understood clearly without help. When you do understand the deeper meaning behind your fantasies huge changes can and do occur. You realize you are no longer a victim of your sexual behaviors and there is obviously a reason you have come to this place in your life. You feel more in control and empowered. You realize that change, if so desired, is possible and does not have to be difficult.

We all have sexual fantasies and they are normal and healthy. Sexual fantasies often lead to orgasm and exist to help you heal. The deepest wounds in your past as well as the most difficult problems in your life are often expressed in the form of sexual fantasy that leads to orgasm. Orgasm is a pleasurable way that the body and mind seek to heal you emotionally and psychologically. If your opinion of yourself is grounded in unworthiness, due to past trauma, or an abusive or neglectful past, you could be compulsively and frenetically driven to use pornography and fantasy to heal. You might even spend hours viewing pornography that may involve abusive patterns and wonder why you are so pulled into this type of fantasy. Upon orgasm there is a temporary relief from the dissatisfaction with yourself, or a sense of overcoming the emotional pain in your present or past. The powerful act of orgasm offers an attempt to overcome, heal, or conquer our deepest wounds. Orgasm provides a temporary relief, and a feeling of overpowering a past that may have left you feeling powerless or ashamed. With orgasm you are in complete control of your experience as well as the timing, details and symbolic representation of the fantasy that leads to orgasm. Frenetic pornography use that occurs over and over again is an attempt to heal past or present experience. It is an attempt to change and heal in the way that is most easily assessable to you at the present time. This is why it is so unfortunate that such behaviors are often called “sick” or “addictive”. Compulsive sexual behaviors can subside quickly once the sexual or pornography fantasy is looked at in detail and understood with self acceptance and personal compassion. Many are astounded at how accurately a sexual fantasy may be related to long held feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, insecurity, fear, or past and present relationship wounds. The process of analyzing sexual fantasy is one I have felt honored to be a part of with the many people I have worked with. I have witnessed people changing not only their compulsive behaviors with sexuality and pornography, but also their long held patterns and beliefs about themselves and their lives that have been keeping them from being fully alive in every day life.