Top Tips If You Are Struggling To Beat Porn Addiction


Pornography Addiction

The internet is now full of advice on understanding and beating addiction. So many people claim to have the answer as to why addictions form and how to beat them. The truth is that no one has the answer because there isn’t one answer and everyone is different. Addictions do form differently and different people respond differently to different treatments.

In this article we want to take readers through some different solutions which can be used to tackle porn addiction if some of the more conventional methods are not working. We approach the problem from a psychological as well as a biological angle. For us addiction is not just about brain chemistry; the mind as well as the body comes into play and too much advice on addiction leaves this out, or skips over it too briefly.

To understand porn addiction and develop an effective strategy against it, it is very important to understand the role of sexual imprinting and obsessions, as well as how the subconscious mind works, to understand why porn can be so addictive and harmful. This goes alongside all the standard advice on addiction, which is important, but not the whole story.

We will also emphasize a multi-faceted approach to tackling addiction, whereby using several different things at once has a much more effective chance of really beating addiction, rather than just a shallow “cold turkey” approach on it’s own, which often doesn’t work and leads to relapse unless supplemented by other measures.

The Problem With So Much Advice on Addiction

So much of the advice on this and other addictions is materialistic and shallow in it’s idealogy. What we mean by this is that they are offering advice on tackling the addiction purely from a materialistic or biological perspective ie. stop the acting out, cut off the source as with any physical addiction to substances, alcohol etc.

Whilst it is definitely a useful and sometimes necessary thing to do to stop acting out, with porn addiction it is nowhere near the whole story. Just stopping using porn and relying on willpower alone does not work for a lot of people.

Because they remain unaware of the psychological (not just biological) factors driving their addiction, they end up binge relapsing, which if anything can deepen the addictive pathways that have developed in the brain and make the addiction even harder to beat in the future through this method.

It is an approach much the same as the big pharma treatment of things like depression, and much of the medical industry in general – if you’ve got a problem, give something like medication (or stop taking something, remove some stimulus) to fix it.

It assumes all problems can be solved on the physical or biological levels, even if they originate on the psychological level, or have key psychological components to them.

This approach will never get to the real root of problems if they originate on the psychological level not the biological level. You cannot effectively solve psychological problems on the biological level, by either administering or withdrawing something. Psychological problems have to be solved on the psychological level.

We will go through some of these factors in turn; however lets first lay down a strategy to thoroughly cut off access to all adult content, which is definitely the first step to beating a strongly ingrained porn addiction.

Blocking Access To Adult Content

This is an obvious step, but we want to go into a little more detail on this. Cutting off access to adult sites is essential for stronger addictions and compulsions, since if the opportunity is open to access adult material, then you will take it if you have a deep rooted problem with it.

One of the best tools to use now is the Leechblock tool. It is a versatile browser add on that is designed to block access to sites to stop people wasting time online. However, it can also be used to block access to adult sites.

There are lots of ways to configure the Leechblock tool. You can actively choose to block certain adult sites, allowing everything else, or you can simply block everything, allowing only certain exception sites you specify.

When tackling porn addiction in the early stages, it is usually best to do the latter. Here are the steps to take to cut off access to adult content:

  • Download the Leechblock tool. It is currently available as a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Vivaldi.
  • Delete all other browsers on your system so there are no other ways of accessing the internet.
  • With Leechblock, you can set up different block lists with diffferent time limits.
  • One way to do it is to simply block all .com sites, with certain exceptions, just to allow access to a few critical sites. See example 2 on this page for a demonstration of how to do this. Just add the non pornographic mainstream sites you need each day.
  • You can set this block for all day, every day, or within certain time limits. When tackling difficult porn addiction, it is best to do it all day, every day.
  • Keep the password for the program in a safe place that you cannot just easily access. Give it to someone else, or else store it in an email account that is blocked on the filter, or that you only have access to in a very small time window each day.
  • As a side issue, also consider getting rid of any other short term, easy-fix style habits and pleasures, like refined sugars, sweets, soft drinks, alcohol, junk food binges, since they often trigger the same reward centers in the brain.
  • “The subconscious mind works like water – it will follow the path of least resistance to get a pleasure response” – Alex Becker – see here.
  • This is why it is so important to cut off all easy and/or quick access to porn and other short term pleasure responses if you want to rewire the brain to recover from addiction. This will feel uncomfortable at first but this will soon fade and your brain will begin to reset itself.

Understanding How Sexual Obsessions Form

A crucial component in understanding porn addiction is in understanding the psychological concept of imprinting and how it relates the the formation of obsessions. Imprinting is a term popularized by scientist Konrad Lorenz, initially to describe the behavior or infant ducks and geese following their parent around everywhere they go in their early life.

The baby ducks are imprinting on their mother, but they can actually imprint on anything that is around them in their early life, even if it is another animal or a human. Human infants do the same thing, imprinting on their mothers and often following them round the house as soon as they can walk.

Sexual imprinting refers to the same idea applied to the development of our sexuality. Whatever we are exposed to first as our sexuality starts to develop sets the template of what we will find attractive and arousing from then on in our lives.

If this first exposure is through pornography, then we will be drawn to whatever we saw that had a powerful impression on us when we first watched it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8YgrlIyQr0

“If pornography is what first aroused you….(it) will be the thing that’s most sexually appealing to you at a subconscious level.”

This has obvious implications, in that whatever type of pornography you started watching, or have kept watching, will over time start to imprint on your mind and will be naturally what you are drawn to whenever you think about sex.

As the same things are viewed over and over again, the imprinting deepens and obsessions form, where the mind goes round and round in loops obsessing about the same fetishes and fantasies.

Understanding this concept of imprinting, as well as the concept we are about to explain below about the subconscious, are two crucial pieces of the puzzle which can help people tackle porn addiction more effectively. Bringing awareness to any automatic or unconscious pattern or dynamic immediately makes it easier to deal with.

Dissolving sexual obsessions and mind loops on the psychological level will dissolve much of the obsessive thinking which drives the acting out with pornography, and will therefore make handling cravings and compulsions on the physical level much easier to handle.

Just trying to beat porn addiction “cold turkey” on the physical level by stopping use is so much harder to do on it’s own if you don’t supplement it with psychological understanding.

Some people manage to do it this way through pure willpower alone – huge respect to them for managing this – but fighting solely on the physical level against subconscious mind patterns that are strongly resistant to change is very difficult and many end up relapsing.

This is why a multi-faceted approach is needed to really give oneself the best chance of tackling porn addictions – stopping acting out, understanding patterns of the mind (see below for more on mindfulness), understanding key concepts like imprinting in the formation of obsessions, and the subconscious, which we will turn to below.

See our full article on how sexual obsessions for more on this, as well as an experimental technique of using self adminsitered bilateral stimulation to dissolve sexually imprinted fetishes and obsessions.

Understanding How The Subconscious Mind Works in Porn Addiction

Another crucial piece of the puzzle here which is hardly ever mentioned in any material on porn addiction is an explanation of just how the subconscious works. Once we understand this, along with what we just mentioned above about imprinting, we see why porn addiction can be so harmful to a person’s mental health.

Here is something that all porn users must understand about the subconscious:

The subconscious does not filter out certain things. It takes in absolutely everything you see and hear and will incorporate it into your sexual character and tastes, regardless of what you consciously think about it.

The subconscious absorbs everything, without discrimination, and does not place a label of “good” or “bad” on it. It simply becomes part of your sexual identity and tastes.

The laws of the subconscious are the same for everyone and can’t be avoided or cheated. If you repeatedly watch violent films, you will become more verbally or physically violent or abusive.

If you repreatedly watch pornographic films, your sexuality will become more like what is depicted in the films. This is why repeated porn use can be so harmful, though these effects can be undone by removing the stimulus in question.

This fundamental reality is almost never mentioned in advice on porn addiction, but once we realize this, a number of things start to make sense, like flashbacks, the changing of sexual tastes and fetishes with heavy porn use, and relationship difficulties which can arise as partners want to copy or replicate what they have seen in adult films.

When we understand the effects of porn from a depth psychology perspective, incorporating and understanding of how the subconscious works and how imprinting and obsessions work, then we can also see more clearly the harmful effects of pornography, not only from a moral perspective, but a psychological one as well.

Again this understanding is left out of so much material on this. Much of the debate around porn centers on superficial “back and forth” on the pro’s and cons of porn. Again this is shallow and two people on each side of the debate can argue back and forward all day on this and never get anywhere, because people will always differ in their moral and ethical positions.

Having a deeper psychological understanding of the effects of porn pulls you out of this “back and forward” pro/con argument which can center on moral factors, and allows you to see exactly why porn is not healthy and never really can be for most people, once you see how repeated use affects the mind.

With proper psychological understanding you can make a fully informed choice to stay away from porn.

Remember the quote above – “The subconscious mind is like water – it will follow the path of least resistance to get a pleasure response”.

See This Brilliantly Explained Video on the Subconscious & Addiction

 

Soundbite video summary – Aim to replace lower level/short term pleasure responses (eg. porn, fast food, sugar, sweets, cakes, video games, social media) with longer term, more ultimately fulfilling pleasure responses (eg. exercise, meditation, accomplish things, learn new skills, build up online or offline businesses, develop social connections etc.).

Using Mindfulness to Tackle Porn Addiction

Another excellent resource to help tackle all addictions, including porn addiction, is to use the Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation to start to see more clearly the patterns of the mind which so often drive addiction.

This involves engaging in regular meditation exercises where you simply focus on a central focal point, often the breath, or any or all of the five senses, or inner thoughts and feelings. The idea is not to pass judgement but to simply pay moment to moment awareness to any or all of these things.

Over time this has a number of benefits, including training the mind to stay in the present more, and also to notice more quickly when the mind isn’t present.

In time it also allows us to see more clearly the patterns of the mind, which can allow us to more effectively identify and tackle addictive behaviors and triggers. Our self awareness increases, and so we can see problems more clearly and make better choices.

This can include the more cliched advice of seeing certain patterns, like “When I get angry/sad etc, I act out”, which helps to connect certain moods, thoughts or circumstances with a stronger compulsion to act out to sooth these feelings. This can definitely be one way that addictions develop and are sustained, to sooth certain feelings.

However, mindfulness can also be used to dig deeper into oneself psychologically, not just to spot more readily apparent day to day patterns, but also to peel back layers of the mind to see what unresolved feelings and traumas may still be lying underneath that are driving our addiction.

This can take time and require patience but the self awareness that repeated meditation practice can bring can allow us to see addiction as almost a kind of distraction to pull us away from some other unresolved emotional trauma or wounding from earlier in life.

The addiction may seem like all of the problem when it is in fact sometimes just a surface issue that covers up other things.

To elaborate on this, it is useful to see the mind as a layered structure, with addiction actually being more of a surface thing covering up deeper stuff. Mindfulness allows you to start seeing this and slowly delving deeper into the mind to see what’s underneath these distractions.

1. Core wound – Some kind of unresolved wounding, shame or trauma.

2. Numbing – Mind often numbs out this core wounding.

3. Distractions – Mind often adds another layer still on top of the numbing to further distract from the core wound. This can include many things, but addiction is a crucial form of distraction the mind can divert off into.

4. Mindfulness – Adding another layer around these distractions, of mindful moment to moment awareness of sensations, thoughts and feelings through regular meditation practice can allow us to start seeing these patterns of the mind and the distractions we have got caught up and start picking them apart. We can start to peel the layers off and get down to the real core wounding which is often driving the addiction.

“See an addiction more clearly allows us to understand it better, and let it go”

See our mindfulness resources page for some excellent presentations on mindfulness, as well as some great introductory meditation practices which you can get started with.

Tackling Porn Addiction From Multiple Angles

Another mistake that so much material on porn or other addictions falls into is that it tries to offer one magical trick only as the key solution which will work in all cases for everyone. “Just do this one thing and you’ll be sorted” is the line they are trying to sell. Again it isn’t this simple.

Recovery from addiction rarely involves just doing one thing. It most often wasn’t one factor that created the addiction, so it isn’t going to be just one thing that gets someone out of an addiction. Rather it has to be tackled from multiple angles and using multiple techniques together gives someone a much better chance of defeating it than looking for one magical “silver bullet”.

A good resource to get behind this multi-faceted approach is the embedded video. The advice contained within the video is very sound and emphasizes the importance of tackling addiction from several different angles in order to effectively beat it.

Great multi-faceted advice for all addictions, including porn addiction

Here are the main 4 “pillars” mentioned in the video on effectively tackling addiction, plus some other points we have added below. Combining as many of these as possible together will give you the best chance of beating a porn addiction or any other addiction.

Psychotherapy – How did I get into my addiction, what emotional dynamics are underlying it? Seek the help of a therapist to understand better what life events and patterns may drive your addiction.

Exercise – Boosts hormone levels which can be depleted by chronic porn use. Elevates mood.

Meditation – Allows you to see patterns of mind which drive addiction. Develops calmness and equanimity, pulls us out of our head and into our body instead. Lessens rumination and negative “inner talk”.

Diet – Again elevates mood and energy levels. Try to eat fresh, whole foods and avoid processed and junk foods and sugar laced drinks, sweets and snacks as well as alcohol. As mentioned above, binging on these kind of foods often triggers the same reward centers in the brain that porn does, delivering a short term dopamine “hit”.

Avoid anything that does this, since it just fires that part of the brain up again and may encourage you to go back into porn use as well. Aim to remove all short term pleasure “binge” activities from your life to let your brain calm down.

Quality of Life – Try to build up a lifestyle that makes porn seem less and less important to you. Make sure you have a good job and a good social life. Having a busy routine where there is always something planned or something to do is a good tactic in the early stages. Try not to be alone too much.

Support Network – Build up a network of supportive & trustworthy family and friends who are motivated to help you beat the addiction. This is more difficult for some people since there is a lot of shame around opening up about porn addiction, but do what you can. Some people in the recovery space also advocate having a mentor to check in with regularly and hold you accountable.

Understand imprinting and obsessions – crucial in the case of porn addiction in particular. Dissolving obsessions and mind loops will dissolve much of the motivation to act out, and make it easier to remain abstinent on willpower alone.

Resources – the yourbrainonporn website is the definitive resource on understanding the effects of porn and tips for quitting. Again biologically focused but loads of great resources and a supportive community.

See also Larry Peltz’s mindfulpathtoaddictionrecovery website.

See also:

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