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Porn Addiction's Unhealthy Cycle



“The first time I heard someone talk seriously about pornography was at a college chapel service. In front of the entire student body, a friend confessed his addiction and shared that Jesus had “set him free.” I was engaged at the time and thought how glad I was that my future husband didn’t struggle with porn.

Nick, my fiancé, came from a Christian family. He always led the two of us in prayer and devotions. We w

ere preparing for a life of ministry together. He never pressured me physically. In fact, he waited months to even hold my hand or kiss me.

Not long after that chapel service, we went on a coffee date. Before we even got out of the car, Nick said, “I need to tell you something.” (Excerpt from Michelle Stomba for Focus on the Family, used with permission.)

As I study the ill effects of pornography, I recognize common patterns that happen in a relationship. A person becomes involved in viewing pornography. If that person discloses the issue to the spouse or partner, they do so in a humble voice, then abstain from viewing it for some time. The time can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or even a few years, but eventually, there is a relapse. There are no real consequences set in place for relapses. Boundaries are put in place but discarded if the person feels they are doing all right. Distrust places trust, and loneliness sets in for both partners, then despair.

No matter the addiction, there is a shared unhealthy cycle. Researchers have come up with various models of pornography addiction cycles. One of them that I will use in this article is from Dr. Patrick Carnes, who illustrated the sexual addiction cycle as 1) fantasy (preoccupation), 2) ritualization (the bubble), 3) compulsive behavior (acting out), and 4) despair (shame) (Hook et al., 2008; Weiss, n.d.). With the first step, addicts fixate on a thought regarding sex (fantasy). Several things trigger the addicts’ thoughts – a commercial, a billboard, a specific smell or noise. In the second step, addicts build upon the fantasy and seek out pornography by browsing the Internet to fuel the fantasy (ritualization). In the third step, addicts will immerse themselves in a self-degrading behavior (acting out). And then, in the fourth step, addicts feel a heavy wave of guilt and shame because they could not control their behavior. They become lost in the feeling of hopelessness. The cycle will begin again after a length of time.

As I contemplate the ugly effects of pornography, I am reminded that the cycle can be broken, and addicts’ lives can be healed. Relationships can be restored and strengthened. Ironically, the very place where addicts can find destruction can also find healing - the Internet. There are software and mobile apps available, counseling, group therapy, 12-step programs, and religious help. The following links can be a starting point in searching to break the cycle:

https://www.citizensfordecency.org/addiction-recovery

https://sexhelp.com/

https://www.atsa.com/

https://endsexualexploitation.org/resources/

https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/how-to-overcome-porn-addiction-and-restore-relationships/

https://livefreecommunity.org/


References

Hook, J., Hook, J., & Hines, S. (2008). Reach out or act out: Long-term group therapy for sexual addiction. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 15(3), 217–232. https://doi-org.byui.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/10720160802288829


Stumbo, M. (2018, September 11). How we finally won the battle against pornography. Focus on the Family. https://www.focusonthefamily.com/marriage/how-we-finally-won-the-battle-against-pornography/


Weiss, R. (n.d.) The cycle of addictive and compulsive porn use.

https://www.intherooms.com/home/iloverecovery/all/the-cycle-of-addictive-and-compulsive-porn-use






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