If this doesn’t scare you straight, I don’t know what else will!

Romans 8:13 – ““For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.””

A common boundary problem is disowning our choices and trying to lay the responsibility for them on someone else. Think for a moment how often we use the phrases, “I had to” or “She (he) made me” when explaining why we did or did not do something. These phrases betray our basic illusion that we are not active agents in many of our dealings. We think someone else is in control, thus relieving us of our basic responsibility.

We need to realize that we are in control of our choices, no matter how we feel. This keeps us from making choices to give “reluctantly or under compulsion,” as 2 Corinthians 9:7 says. Paul would not even accept a gift that he felt was given because the giver felt he “had to” give it. He once sent a gift back so “that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced” (Philemon 1:14).

Jesus said a similar thing to the worker who was angry about the wage for which he had agreed to work: “Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?” (Matthew 20:13). The man had made a free choice to work for a certain amount and was angry because someone who had worked fewer hours had gotten the same wage.

Throughout the Scriptures, people are reminded of their choices and asked to take responsibility for them. Like Paul says, if we choose to live by the Spirit, we will live; if we choose to follow our sinful nature, we will die (Romans 8:13). Making decisions based on others’ approval or on guilt breeds resentment, a product of our sinful nature. We have been so trained by others on what we “should” do that we think we are being loving when we do things out of compulsion.
Setting boundaries inevitably involves taking responsibility for your choices. You are the one who makes them. You are the one who must live with their consequences. And you are the one who may be keeping yourself from making the choices you could be happy with.

Today’s content is drawn from Boundaries DVD Study by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Copyright 2014 by Zondervan; all rights reserved. Visit BoundariesBooks.com for more information


Part D – Jorge and Doug discuss the next aspect of working Step 4 in sex addiction recovery.   If you haven’t listened to steps 1-3, it may be a good idea to listen to episode 31 (Step 3), episode 20 (step 2), and episodes 9/10 (step one).  Also parts A, B, and C of step four were released a few days before this episode.

In this podcast, they discuss how to work through the harms we have done to others or have been done to us. We take ownership for our part in those harms, and pave the way for future step work by identifying them now.  They also discuss the “deep dark secrets” and how those are detrimental to recovery.  Step 5 is an avenue to release those, so after successful completion of Step 4, that work can be done more fully!

For more information, please email us at puritypodcast@castimonia.org.  We would love to hear from you, get more show ideas, or find other testimonies to record!

Early in recovery, my counselor did an exercise with me to expose me to the ingrained behavior I have of avoiding all emotions. I experienced some of the highest anxiety I have ever experienced when spending time in the source of my early shame. It was emotionally smothering. I didn’t want to stay in that. I couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to curl inward from the shame. After that experience, my counselor told me that this was my first experience with getting to the source of my behavior, to the “why.” So evidently, its time to revisit the why.

In my last session, these were the instructions from my counselor:

“I want you to spend the next week just journaling on something that is at the root of your behavior. I want you to focus on the issue of being left alone.”

Ok, so that is interesting. I am to spend time in this, in a place I have previously found to be uncomfortable at best. I am supposed to give my wife the bare outline of this but not any details. I don’t know the details myself so how can I give them to her? I can’t, so I need to let her know what I am doing and that I will come back to her with specifics. I wasn’t quite prepared for where this went.

I am a middle child. I have older siblings and a younger sibling. I didn’t really feel a connection with my father at a young age. I can remember only a couple of instances as a child where we actually spent any time alone together. They weren’t very memorable. Mostly, I felt like an afterthought. I was allowed to come along on hunting trips my brother and father took, even though I had zero interest in hunting. I mainly felt left behind. I started playing into that, overtly stating that I wanted to have time to myself to read and do other things alone, mainly so I would feel like it was my idea, rather than feeling abandoned. That was a hard realization I just had.

The other really hard realization was when my counselor asked me what life was like for me between the ages of 6 and 14 when I first had a sexual experience. I guess I really hadn’t focused on that time. I did now. I journaled about this time in my life. I realized this was a very painful time and a major source of abandonment for me. I spent a lot of time at my older aunt and uncle’s house. As I child, I thought it was because I was special, because they chose me from my siblings and wanted me around. I recently, just very recently, realized it was primarily because my parents were too busy to take care of me and that my older and younger siblings were taken care of in other ways. That was the worst realization.

I spent more days and nights than I can remember, on weekends and during summers, with my aunt and uncle. Well, not with them. At their house. They had a very large house, very formal, with a big library and huge basement with a pool table and ping pong table. Outside was a pool and trampoline. I spent so much time in those rooms alone. Alone with books, games, an empty pool, a solitary game of pool or ping pong. I didn’t realize the impact that time alone had on me. Until today.

Part C – Jorge and Doug discuss the next aspect of working Step 4 in sex addiction recovery.   If you haven’t listened to steps 1-3, it may be a good idea to listen to episode 31 (Step 3), episode 20 (step 2), and episodes 9/10 (step one).  Also parts A and B of step four were released a few days before this episode.

In this podcast, they discuss how to work through fears. Often we feel that fear is a weakness that should be forgotten about or not dealt with.  In recovery, we see the importance of facing these fears in appropriate ways, so that we don’t medicate sexually to avoid them.  Jorge and Doug discuss what fears are and appropriate ways to work through them and release them to God.

For more information, please email us at puritypodcast@castimonia.org.  We would love to hear from you, get more show ideas, or find other testimonies to record!

A pair of rats stare at some cheese in a rat trap and exclaim, "Look, cheese!" and a pair of humans look at an open laptop computer and exclaim, "Look, an internet connection!"

A pair of rats stare at some cheese in a rat trap and exclaim, “Look, cheese!” and a pair of humans look at an open laptop computer and exclaim, “Look, an internet connection!”

by healingmybrain
Every now and then I search twitter for things like “porn addiction” and “sex addicts anonymous” to see who’s talking about what. Generally the content seems to break down as follows:

•Idiotic, insensitive jokes about sex addicts (e.g. “SAA must be the best place to get laid”) – 80%
•Religious groups and others proclaiming how evil porn is – 15%
•People opening or having genuine discussion about porn addiction – 4%
•Sufferers talking about their addiction – 1%

Why is the last one so small? I think because porn addicts on twitter rarely tweet the words “porn addiction” – we talk about all sorts of feelings, motivations and other views, but don’t waste each tweet with self-evident phrases like that.

Anyway, I came across one guy, who actually works in the porn industry, asking about people’s views on porn addiction (WARNING: his twitter account is NSFW – if you are struggling with sex addiction DO NOT VISIT!). He gave me his email address, and I sent him the following (minus introduction and a bit about my own addiction):

Email to (name edited to prevent acting out), 08/01/2015:

What is porn addiction?

I define an addiction as compulsive continuation of an activity in spite of the negative consequences that result from that activity. I.e. even though someone knows that they shouldn’t do something, and actively don’t want to do it for that reason, and they know that doing it will have negative impacts on their life, they still do it. It is a compulsion that overrides their sensibilities.

By that definition, there can be no doubt that porn is addictive. The numbers of people on twitter, on Facebook, attending 12-step groups, visiting therapists, going on tv, all show that there is something serious here that needs to be acknowledged, and that these people are desperate for support that is not readily available.

Why porn?

From what I’ve learned, I believe the following is true:

•Porn is just one type of sexual activity that falls under the Sex Addiction banner. When talking about porn addiction, you’re really talking about one aspect of sex addiction. Often porn addicts are just sex addicts at an early stage of acting out. Like most addictions, the addict often needs a ‘bigger hit’ of the drug, so it is common for porn addicts to progress onto more serious and impactful activities like fetishes, prostitutes and cheating on partners.

•Porn does something to the brain. There is a growing amount of research on this that I’m not close enough to refer to in detail, but essentially it refers to the dopamine hit that users get when watching porn (proven to be almost identical to the hit a drug user gets), and how the addict develops an immunity, requiring a bigger hit and therefore an increased level of ‘acting out’ with the addiction.

•Sex addiction is a means of dealing with pain. It has very little to do with sex. That pain can be physical, emotional or otherwise, but acting out with sex addiction is a way to escape from pains and stresses of reality in an intense form of ‘self-love’. Of course, once the acting out is over, the temporary soothing effect is replaced by depression as the addict realises they’ve let themselves, and others, down once again. Often they will act out again just to escape from that refreshed pain, and so the cycle continues.

•Porn is not a physical addiction, more a psychological one. The Your Brain On Porn site, and other research, talks about the hunter-gatherer caveman side of it. A porn addict will watch porn for hours and hours, constantly hunting for a better scene or the perfect scene to climax to. This is the mental equivalent of your brain seeking out the right partner, but the chemicals in your brain can’t tell the difference between real-life dopamine hits and those from porn, so it seeks out porn as it is easy. I’m probably not explaining this one very well – have a watch of this.

Not everyone is going to get addicted to porn

Because porn is used to deal with pain and get various mental highs, different people are affected differently. Just like many people can drink socially and not get addicted, so too can people watch porn and not get addicted. They probably have healthy ways of dealing with their pains, or perhaps unhealthy ways! Perhaps they don’t have a predisposition to addictive materials. Either way, because some/many/most people don’t get addicted to porn is not in itself proof that others can’t get addicted to it.

Beating sex addiction

Once you understand that you are addicted, you need to look into yourself and understand your own personal circumstances. On the basis porn/sex acting out is being used to numb and escape from pain, the addict needs to identify that pain and where it stems from, as well as what day-to-day triggers exist that may encourage acting out (arguments, feeling depressed/stressed etc), and start to rebalance their life. I.e. instead of using porn to escape stress, find other more healthy ways of dealing with that stress, and identify it earlier so you can avoid acting out. This is very hard to do alone, and is why 12-step groups and therapy is so useful. Others can help the addict identify things they may not have been able to do themselves. Some pains are buried deep.

The deniers

I admit I don’t quite understand the position that people like (name edited) take. My cynical view is that they have simply found a controversial opinion that the masses enjoy hearing, and have built a career out of voicing it. My main concern is that regardless of whether porn is or is not addictive, these people are actively diverting attention away from the people who genuinely need help. They are quick to dismiss, and very slow to assist. There is no doubt in my mind that porn can be used as a method of dealing with pain and that people can become addicted to it. It is not physically addictive, like alcohol or drugs, but it is addictive nonetheless.

Our society and sex addiction

I feel our society is way behind in terms of comprehension, compassion and assistance regarding sex addiction. It is a taboo subject. Alcoholics and drug addicts can relatively easily admit to their addiction and expect support and general encouragement. There are plenty of public resources to help them beat their addiction. However, porn is generally a taboo subject regardless of addiction – so for those suffering from it, admitting this in public is drastically more difficult. People you tell will not even understand what you’re addicted to, or even know that porn can be addictive. The fact that I had to create anonymous accounts just to express my thoughts on the addiction speaks volumes – I genuinely worried about keeping my job and general social dignity by admitting this addiction (although I am preparing to start telling people in my life this year as I want to remove the shame and secrecy).

Just look at the 2014 stats from (name edited). 78.9 billion porn videos viewed in the year!! 18.35 billion total visits. That’s 35,000 site hits a minute. Let that sink in, then think about how many people actively talk about porn in daily life. There is a HUGE discrepancy. People don’t talk about porn, but clearly far more people than are letting on are visiting and watching porn regularly. So how can we possibly have a good understanding of the levels of porn addiction if we can’t even talk about it? You can be addicted to porn in secret. You can’t stay up all night getting drunk or taking drugs without eventually some exterior signs showing.

How can people like (name edited) possibly assume to have a good understanding of porn addiction, and go so far as to make judgements and assertions, when there are literally billions of people looking at porn who aren’t admitting it!?

The industry is not taking responsibility

I feel like the porn industry is on course for the same wake-up call that the tobacco industry had. Remember that internet porn is only 20 years old. We’re still in generation 1 of porn addicts – i.e. those like me who started getting hooked right when internet porn first started existing. Who knows what level of openness and impact our society will experience regarding porn over the coming generations? Either way, I think, or at least I really hope, that the porn industry is legally forced to take more responsibility for its output. I am by no means a porn-anti – I don’t think it should be banned, but I think the potential risks must be made clear. Just like the cancer ads on cigarette packets, I see a future where porn websites require you to state that porn is addictive if not used carefully.

Unfortunately, just like the tobacco companies, the porn industry itself is going to not only deny any addictiveness, but they are going to actively fight against any progress made on this front. This site says the porn industry is generating $2.8b a year. This seems low to me, but regardless, if that number is threatened, the people earning the big bucks are going to do whatever it takes (think lobbying, lies etc) to protect their revenue, regardless of the impact on people’s health. It is really sad, but there’s no way we can look to the industry to ‘do the right thing’ – they’ll need to be forced by law.

Our schools are not educating

Sex education currently does not include talking about the risks of excessive porn use. It needs to. Our society needs to wake up and take responsibility for the biggest elephant in the room that we’ve ever seen. Education is our strongest defence against future addicts being created. If I knew that porn was addictive when I started looking at it nightly as a teenager, would I have been more careful? I actively avoided smoking because I knew it was harmful, things may have been different if I knew the risks. Regardless, if the risks exist, our schools and parents have a responsibility to educate against them. What’s the harm? It can’t hurt to say “porn can be harmful if used in excess and can become addictive” – we aren’t we telling our kids this?