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BYU Study: Pornography use at any level harms romantic relationships


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5 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Really? A discussion of Anthony Weiner? Did you choose that for the phallic pun?

Reading the study linked to in the article is SOOOOOOO HARD when I just want to keep indulging my biases.

Edited by Hamilton Porter
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5 hours ago, Tweed1944 said:

In the book The Brain that Changes Itself the writer argues that viewing porn can cause impotency.  

It's been a while since I've read the book (although I still have it on my shelf as a reference). 

From what I recall, he also said porn makes people lose attraction for their partners.

That's another thing with porn, in addition to loss of testosterone and the inability to make connections with real women--you wear out your brain's pleasure centers.

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8 hours ago, Hamilton Porter said:

But if you masturbate to porn every day, there's no incentive to go out and make real connections.

If one is looking at porn everyday, they are not going out to make connections for other deeper reasons.  In the case of addiction, the struggle has nothing to do with incentive or will-power.

8 hours ago, Hamilton Porter said:

This is why successful people tend to have stronger than have average libidos.

Successful people are often the most shame based people and the worst addicts because of it. Getting attention from the opposite sex doesn’t mean anything when one is shame based.  They can have people around them all the time and appear like highly social and connected people, but inside they feel desperately lonely and unknown.  Toxic shame leads to two types of people 1) the underachievers, and 2) the over achievers (see: healing the shame that binds you) Success and attention is no antidote to porn addiction (or it could manifest as any other type of addiction too), in fact, success is often just a mask to hide behind.  The irony is that successful people on the outside often feel like the biggest nobodies and worthless on the inside.   

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11 hours ago, pogi said:

I have always been open about my experience with porn addiction and recovery.  I have been to hell and back in battling this demon for my own sanity and to save my marriage.  I was this close (making a sliver of a gap between two fingers) to losing my marriage because of this problem.  Yes, the threat to marriages and relationships is real.  The pains that my wife went through over this almost broke her, and that almost broke me. The guilt/shame of not being able to control it to save my marriage was unbearable.  What I have learned as I have journeyed through the depths of addiction, the coming face to face with my inner demons, and eventually tasting of the light in recovery is incredibly important and valuable for those struggling and those wanting to help.  I know that many will have reservations with identifying this as an addiction, but after what I experienced, there is no other way that I can explain it.  The results of this study are not surprising but it is how we interpret the data that can either lead to progression or cause significant problems. 

While I don't have any issues with the results of this study, I am concerned that it can and will lead to extremely damaging reactions and conclusions based on the data.  I am concerned that this will cause many to misidentify the nature of the problem.  Make no mistake, I am no friend of porn, I think it is a vise that can have many damaging effects and lead to the objectification of women, but it is not the disease.  It is only a symptom of the disease.  When we frame porn as the villain, we have lost sight of the battle.  I am concerned that this will only further the stigma of pornography and those who struggle with it if not framed properly.  I am concerned that people will simplistically conclude that because porn use is associated with marital problems then those who consume and struggle with porn will be further vilified.  This will only make the problem worse, not better.  

It is not surprising to me at all to see the association between religiosity, porn use, and damaged relationships.  This is a very important bit of data that needs to be understood by the church.   Many people may struggle with this idea, but it is true as anything that I know - it is our perceptions that are the problem and porn is just a symptom.  Yes, the church has a played a significant role in forming these hurtful perceptions that damage individuals and relationships over this issue.  This is not to blame the church or point the finger, but they need to understand their role in where things stand today. It didn't need to be as painful and as damaging to our relationship as it was.  Neither of us understood what we were dealing with and what we were up against and were both scared to death and felt out of control.  The church only threw fuel on those flames and increased damaging misperceptions unknowingly.  The shaming by the church growing up was brutal.  Little did they know that shame itself was the demon and the disease that they were feeding and fueling.  They have come a long way and have a long way to go.   

Here is the struggle for spouses - it feels like infidelity.  That is how Jesus himself framed it after all - he who looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart.

I hate to go up against Jesus on this issue, but it needs to be understood that porn addiction is another beast all together.  It isn't about sex.  It isn't about perversion.  It isn't about wanting a relationship with another woman, it isn't about lack of virtue, it isn't about poor self-control or lack of will-power.  That is all a superficial, shallow, and damaging perceptions of the issue that is responsible for causing so much damage to relationships in the church.  What it is about is core beliefs, even subconscious beliefs about oneself.  No one becomes an addict without being a victim in some way.  Not necessary sexually, but a victim of toxic shame.   This is not said to remove accountability, but to enhance healing.    Toxic shame is about our perceptions of self - that we are broken, that we are unlovable, etc.   These beliefs are off-limits to the world.  Too painful to address.  They are often off-limits to the individual and we tuck these beliefs deep down in the dark recess of our hearts that we are too afraid to visit because of the pain.  We believe that if people knew the real us, we would be rejected and discarded.  This leads to devastating and deadly isolation and causes us to form "false-selfs" that we portray to the world.  We wear masks.  Even with many friends and family surrounding us, we feel isolated and lonely.  We feel unknown.  We feel like there is no one on earth that knows the real us.  This makes true intimacy impossible.  "They don't love the real me, they don't even know the real me", we tell ourselves, so it all feels phony and unreal.   That is where porn comes in.  It helps numb the pain of isolation and feeling unlovable by creating a pseudo-intimacy.  It is highly addictive for that reason.  We can remain in the comforts of isolation without exposing our true "unacceptable" selves to the world and experience a form of pseudo intimacy to fill in the gaps.  Absent other serious character flaws and issues, porn addicts are nothing more then hurt, victimized and scared little children forced behind an impenetrable wall wanting to be noticed and loved.

It was the lack of understanding of any of that and not having the language and wherewithal to discuss and address the issue and how/why it is affecting our relationship that made it all so difficult.  It wasn't the porn itself per se.  Simply understanding the nature of the beast will not solve all the problems, but it opens up understanding and channels of communication, and most importantly it can generate empathy and break down barriers.  Once my wife understood the nature of my addiction as I started to open up to her, her heart opened up to me and she became a source of strength and healing for me as we worked together to make a safe environment for the real me to have a REAL and safe relationship with my wife.  She worked on creating a safe space for the real me, that little scared child to come out of hiding to be seen and loved.  Nothing is more scary in this world to an addict than exposure of the real self.  It is akin to Adam coming out of hiding, thinking that God would completely reject and destroy him and proclaiming "here I am".  But, THAT is the only way that this issue goes away.  Nothing else will do.  The antidote to pornography is true intimacy.  I am not talking about sexual intimacy.  I am talking about making oneself vulnerable enough to be seen and loved for who you are.  When "I am unlovable" is eventually converted to "I am loved", true healing begins.  It is not a path for the faint of heart.  

In summary, again I am concerned about the stigma this may create, the misguided attacks on the symptoms rather than focusing on healing of the disease.  I am concerned that it may cause many to view those who consume porn as villains who are weak in self-control and will be viewed as marriage killers.  If that level of shame is thrown on them without ever coming to an understanding of the nature of the problem, that would be a shame that may become impenetrable.   The church can help by turning us to God.  It is through this dark time that I discovered the power of meditative prayer and discovered the healing source of unconditional love.  It is experiencing God's unconditional love that gave me the courage to be vulnerable with others as well.  The addiction recovery program is helpful in reducing the stigma and helping us understand that we are not alone and providing us with good resources for healing with valuable steps towards recovery.  The church can hurt by repeating the rhetoric of past generations (which still exists in places) surrounding pornography.  Yes, there is a reason why religiosity is associated with negative outcomes.  That can change and needs to change, but it will be a long, long time before the damage that has been cause will be erased from our culture.   

 

I think you summarize the issue extremely well.  People can be addicted to all sorts of things. And it is not the thing that one gets addicted to that is the problem.  Addiction to something  is a result of disease that you describe so well and those who have it will find many different unhealthy ways to cope with it.  Addiction to drugs, alcohol, porn, etc all carry heavy social stigma and shaming. It is one of the reasons why treating addiction is so difficult.  It is viewed as a moral failure.  And even more so in strict religious cultures like the LDS community.  When one realizes that human sexuality is a normal thing and that the so called law of chastity as simply man made religious restrictions some stigma can be removed.  Porn use, whether it is over use, or casual use, is viewed as extremely bad behavior that is used to shame in LDS culture because of the church over the top heavy handed teachings and doctrine about sexuality.  One of the biggest addiction problems in the US is sugar and food.  Such addiction can be just as damaging in some ways as over abuse of alcohol or porn.  Yet sugar is socially acceptable. So nobody worries about that.  Anyway I agree that this study will just be used in LDS circles and more of a club to beat on those who turn to porn for reasons that they need help with and used to shame them more and that they won't find the best help they need.

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24 minutes ago, pogi said:

If one is looking at porn everyday, they are not going out to make connections for other deeper reasons.  In the case of addiction, the struggle has nothing to do with incentive or will-power.

I don't disagree with your conclusion that porn addiction is a symptom of deeper problems. I've acknowledged some of them. We also shouldn't shame people for addiction.

But let's say a man is horny (whatever the cause). That can either 1) drive him to go out to a club to find women, to take risks, or 2) extinguish his sex drive with porn and masturbation, and just stay at home.

 

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1 minute ago, Hamilton Porter said:

But let's say a man is horny (whatever the cause). That can either 1) drive him to go out to a club to find women, to take risks, or 2) extinguish his sex drive with porn and masturbation, and just stay at home.

 

I’m sure you were not saying these are the only two options?

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1 minute ago, Hamilton Porter said:

I don't disagree with your conclusion that porn addiction is a symptom of deeper problems. I've acknowledged some of them. We also shouldn't shame people for addiction.

But let's say a man is horny (whatever the cause). That can either 1) drive him to go out to a club to find women, to take risks, or 2) extinguish his sex drive with porn and masturbation, and just stay at home.

 

I'd say that is a shallow experience. And find a woman that you have respect and love for and want the companionship with. 

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High Achievers Are Hornier

If you can identify with the above, I’m going to bet that most people who know you describe you as a Type A: a confident, go-getter with a strong, dynamic personality. Highly motivated people tend to have more testosterone than average, which also accounts for their high levels of motivation. Scientific research links high sex drive to ambitiousness, and dozens of studies, including one by psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa from the University of Canterbury found that men who are more successful in their careers have more sex, and more sexual partners. In a De Spiegel interview, Dutch sociobiologist Johan van der Dennen said that compared to “normal men”, powerful men have “an overactive libido”, and that “powerful women also have larger-than-average sexual appetites”. Call it Eros, qi, life force, mojo, or plain horniness, your rapacious desire for more, better, or newer sex is probably the very thing driving you to become a champion at what you do. Unfortunately, to the detriment of loving relationships, careers, and reputations, many people with really high sex drives often get tripped up by the very “force” needed to help them achieve what’s truly important to them.

https://michelekohmorollo.medium.com/how-sex-transmutation-can-help-you-achieve-more-at-work-and-in-life-238504b85c1d#:~:text=“The sex drive is linked,sex from their desired mate.

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5 minutes ago, Hamilton Porter said:

I don't disagree with your conclusion that porn addiction is a symptom of deeper problems. I've acknowledged some of them. We also shouldn't shame people for addiction.

But let's say a man is horny (whatever the cause). That can either 1) drive him to go out to a club to find women, to take risks, or 2) extinguish his sex drive with porn and masturbation, and just stay at home.

 

While I see nothing wrong with satisfyingly sexual drive through masturbation I personally do not think casual sex is the best option.  And there are other options as well. 

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5 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I'd say that is a shallow experience. And find a woman that you have respect and love for and want the companionship with. 

One night stand or eternal companion, that's up to the man.

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10 minutes ago, Hamilton Porter said:

But let's say a man is horny (whatever the cause). That can either 1) drive him to go out to a club to find women, to take risks, or 2) extinguish his sex drive with porn and masturbation, and just stay at home.

And both actions would just be feeding the same problem until the underlying issues are addressed.  It will either become a porn problem or a sex problem.  Causal superficial connections in a club  are not healing.  Even close relationships with family and friends are not healing when one is hiding their heart behind a great wall.  They are both unhealthy coping mechanisms.   "Horniness" doesn't run out-of-control unless there is an underlying pain that one is trying to numb from.  Healthy people are capable of bridling their emotions/passions to use in more appropriate, healthy and truly bonding ways at a later time if needed.  Unhealthy people need to numb.   The risk taking that you mention that is essential to healing absolutely will not happen until the underlying toxic shame is addressed and the masks are removed.   Masks are the problem, not the lack of sociability.  It doesn't matter how many friends you have or how much attention you get when one is wearing a mask (that is the problem)- the individual knows subconsciously that it is the mask is loved while heart is left unknown and unloved - hence the numbing. 

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19 minutes ago, Teancum said:

People can be addicted to all sorts of things. And it is not the thing that one gets addicted to that is the problem. 

There are biological reasons reasons some are prone to become alcoholics and drug addicts though where if the thing never existed, neither would the addiction.  I don’t know about other types of non chemical additions, but I wouldn’t be surprised. 

Quote

Why do some people become addicted while others don't? Family studies that include identical twins, fraternal twins, adoptees, and siblings suggest that as much as half of a person's risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs depends on his or her genetic makeup. Finding the biological basis for this risk is an important avenue of research for scientists trying to solve the problem of drug addiction. 

 

https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/genetics-epigenetics-addiction

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9 minutes ago, Hamilton Porter said:

Right, by (1) I mean any connection with a woman, where the woman wants him.

How do you explain sex addiction then?  Surely it is evident that being "wanted" is no cure to the root causes of addiction.  It doesn't matter how many partners an addict has, they are still desperately lonely. 

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4 minutes ago, Calm said:

There are biological reasons reasons some are prone to become alcoholics and drug addicts though where if the thing never existed, neither would the addiction.  I don’t know about other types of non chemical additions, but I wouldn’t be surprised. 

I read in some psychology text that 50% of alcoholics have ADHD. But if one were to grow up in a Muslim or LDS or SDA family, then it likely wouldn't happen.

Edited by Hamilton Porter
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8 minutes ago, pogi said:

How do you explain sex addiction then?  Surely it is evident that being "wanted" is no cure to the root causes of addiction.  It doesn't matter how many partners an addict has, they are still desperately lonely. 

Right, one can become a validation whore too if they're not careful. But real connections with women are better than, pursuing Instagram likes or Mormon Dialogue and Discussion upvotes.

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11 minutes ago, Calm said:

There are biological reasons reasons some are prone to become alcoholics and drug addicts though where if the thing never existed, neither would the addiction.  I don’t know about other types of non chemical additions, but I wouldn’t be surprised. 

https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/genetics-epigenetics-addiction

While there may be biological factors that can increase risk factors for some, not all people with those factors become addicts and can drink alcohol in moderation, for example, and live healthy lives.   Those biological factors are only triggered with toxic shame.  They can exacerbate the issue, but they are not the source.  No one overcomes addiction without working on those other core issues.  While we can't change our biology, all can be healed through overcoming shame.  It is the only universal and common theme in all of addiction according to the expert John Bradshaw.   Being open with my addiction and recovery process in an effort to reduce the stigma has opened the doors for many, many other people to be open and vulnerable with me.  Experience with these individuals has entirely convinced me that John Bradshaw is correct.      

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28 minutes ago, Hamilton Porter said:

 But real connections with women are better than, pursuing Instagram likes or Mormon Dialogue and Discussion upvotes.

Yes, real, maskless, shameless, vulnerable, deep and genuine connection is the key.  A person needs to feel seen for who they are, nasty warts and all, examined from the inside out (too many don't allow this to happen because of the shame) and accepted/loved anyway.  It is not about connections made at a club and one-night stands. 

It truly is an Adam coming out of hiding in Eden experience.  If that level of fear is not experienced and faced, where one truly feels like they are going to shrink and die if their true self is exposed, then the level of connection is insufficient and they are not doing it right.  Of course this needs to be done gradually and carefully and with individuals you trust and are willing to take that risk with, or rejection will only further the damage.  God is the safest place to start the process with.  That is why I like the analogy for faith to be stepping into the light of exposure as Adam did, rather than walking into darkness.   They both can work in different ways, but the light of exposure is always scarier for the addict/shame based individual and takes greater faith. 

That is why "coming out of the closest" for homosexuals' is such a healing experience.  They finally feel seen and loved anyway. 

Edited by pogi
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1 hour ago, Snodgrassian said:

This is a sad situation that is just coming to light, and per the article, porn may have played a role in the marital stress: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11886969/Killer-Colorado-dentist-believed-smart-caught-psychologist-says.html

You have to wonder if the shame for porn viewing didn't spiral it out of control. But this guy is pitiful to say the least.

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57 minutes ago, BlueDreams said:

It's a bit of both, from what I'm reading from the abstract. Yes, perceptions about porn have a mitigating factor....but porn use period without some of these mitigating factors still tie to relational stability. Which honestly isn't too surprising to me. Porn when it's present in relationships is at best a net neutral or mild positive (adds a little spice to 2 people who both enjoy it in their sexual interactions). But at worse it can be a real detriment and strain. Either because of what it does directly to the relationship or what it does indirectly via what it does to the emotional state of the person viewing. Which means in aggregate I would expect porn to be more of a net negative. Not because it can't be neutral or somewhat good, but because it can't outweigh the problems when taken in aggregate. 

This is a great example of how personal attitude can reduce problems with porn. I've seen something similar with several clients. But there's also those that don't have this happen. They get rid of the religion or beliefs around porn being bad....and then stop trying to get rid/reduce porn use because it's not "bad" anymore. I don't usually see them (why would you see a sex therapist if there's not really a problem), but I do see their partners/ex-partners who are still struggling with what it means for them or some of their partner's behaviors surrounding porn use. They struggle to talk about this with them because their partners find any critique of the porn use as tied to religion and still  haven't figured how to manage legitimate concerns around this without falling into a shame-hole. 

To me, this is what pops to mind when I see the abstract. Parts of the negative impact can be mitigated by just changing the degree of shame and negative beliefs around porn. Whether that be getting rid of the label of addict for those that are clearly not addicts or reducing what porn means about their spiritual and moral value. But some of it can't be fully removed just by getting rid of the shame. These usually fall into the tendency to use porn to help emotionally regulate. As in, they feel a problem and instead of learning to address it they self-soothe with porn to avoid a problem. Not healthy, even when not an addiction. 

 

With luv,

BD

That makes perfect sense. My point wasn't that porn is "healthy" or "positive," but that people who seem to have the worst problem with it tend to be the ones who blow it way out of proportion.

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1 hour ago, BlueDreams said:

But some of it can't be fully removed just by getting rid of the shame. These usually fall into the tendency to use porn to help emotionally regulate. As in, they feel a problem and instead of learning to address it they self-soothe with porn to avoid a problem. Not healthy, even when not an addiction. 

Very true.  Shame is not something that goes away when you drop the religious/social context and stigma of porn.  The shame that causes addiction isn't about our perceptions of porn (or whatever we are addicted to), it is much deeper roots than that - but the shame that religion can heap on does exacerbate the issue.  Removing shame based perceptions of porn will not be enough for true addicts.  Healing from deeper childhood shame is also not enough.  One also needs to learn new coping mechanisms, as you say.  

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11 hours ago, pogi said:

I have always been open about my experience with porn addiction and recovery.  I have been to hell and back in battling this demon for my own sanity and to save my marriage.  I was this close (making a sliver of a gap between two fingers) to losing my marriage because of this problem.  Yes, the threat to marriages and relationships is real.  The pains that my wife went through over this almost broke her, and that almost broke me. The guilt/shame of not being able to control it to save my marriage was unbearable.  What I have learned as I have journeyed through the depths of addiction, the coming face to face with my inner demons, and eventually tasting of the light in recovery is incredibly important and valuable for those struggling and those wanting to help.  I know that many will have reservations with identifying this as an addiction, but after what I experienced, there is no other way that I can explain it.  The results of this study are not surprising but it is how we interpret the data that can either lead to progression or cause significant problems. 

While I don't have any issues with the results of this study, I am concerned that it can and will lead to extremely damaging reactions and conclusions based on the data.  I am concerned that this will cause many to misidentify the nature of the problem.  Make no mistake, I am no friend of porn, I think it is a vise that can have many damaging effects and lead to the objectification of women, but it is not the disease.  It is only a symptom of the disease.  When we frame porn as the villain, we have lost sight of the battle.  I am concerned that this will only further the stigma of pornography and those who struggle with it if not framed properly.  I am concerned that people will simplistically conclude that because porn use is associated with marital problems then those who consume and struggle with porn will be further vilified.  This will only make the problem worse, not better.  

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  I think these discussions are, or can be, important.

Addiction to pornography is, I think, a genuine and real issue.  My question is whether it is an "addiction" for everyone who struggles with it.  For example, I would like to understand the distinction (if any) between "addiction" and "coping mechanism."  See, e.g., here:

Quote

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress, and self-control. Those changes may last a long time after a person has stopped taking drugs.11
...
† The term addiction as used in this booklet is equivalent to a severe substance use disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5, 2013).
...
11. Goldstein RZ, Volkow ND. Dysfunction of the prefrontal cortex in addiction: neuroimaging findings and clinical implications. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2011;12(11):652-669. doi:10.1038/nrn3119

And here:

Quote

Coping is defined as the thoughts and behaviors mobilized to manage internal and external stressful situations.[1] It is a term used distinctively for conscious and voluntary mobilization of acts, different from 'defense mechanisms' that are subconscious or unconscious adaptive responses, both of which aim to reduce or tolerate stress.[2] 

When individuals are subjected to a stressor, the varying ways of dealing with it are termed 'coping styles,' which are a set of relatively stable traits that determine the individual's behavior in response to stress. These are consistent over time and across situations.[3] Generally, coping is divided into reactive coping (a reaction following the stressor) and proactive coping (aiming to neutralize future stressors). Proactive individuals excel in stable environments because they are more routinized, rigid, and are less reactive to stressors, while reactive individuals perform better in a more variable environment.[4] 

Coping scales measure the type of coping mechanism a person exhibits. The most commonly used scales are COPE (Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced), Ways of Coping Questionnaire, Coping Strategies Questionnaire, Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, Religious-COPE, and Coping Response Inventory.[5] 

Coping is generally categorized into four major categories which are[1]

  1. Problem-focused, which addresses the problem causing the distress: Examples of this style include active coping, planning, restraint coping, and suppression of competing activities.
  2. Emotion-focused, which aims to reduce the negative emotions associated with the problem: Examples of this style include positive reframing, acceptance, turning to religion, and humor.
  3. Meaning-focused, in which an individual uses cognitive strategies to derive and manage the meaning of the situation
  4. Social coping (support-seeking) in which an individual reduces stress by seeking emotional or instrumental support from their community. 

And here:

Quote

ORIGINAL RESEARCH article
Front. Psychol., 12 January 2021
Sec. Health Psychology
Volume 11 - 2020 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.613244
Compulsive Internet Pornography Use and Mental Health: A Cross-Sectional Study in a Sample of University Students in the United States
Christina Camilleri, Justin T. Perry and Stephen Sammut*
Department of Psychology, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, OH, United States

Background: The sustained rise in negative mental health reports among university students is a source of continued global concern, and investigation continues into potential contributors to this rise. This includes the increased prevalence of risky sexual behaviors. Related is the increased prevalence of pornography use. Our study sought to explore the potential relationship between compulsive use of pornography and mental health in university students.

 

Methods: Our sample consisted of university students (N = 1031; 34% male, 66% female) from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, Ohio. An anonymous survey was sent to all students at the university over the age of 18. The survey was comprised of the following: (1) demographic questions, (2) questions on pornography use and perception, (3) a modified version of the Compulsive Internet Use Scale (mCIUS) assessing various factors associated with compulsive internet pornography use, (4) questions assessing emotional and sexual states relative to pornography use (EmSS), and (5) the 21-question version of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21).

Results: Our results indicate that 56.6% of those surveyed reported lifetime pornography use, with a significantly higher proportion of males than females reporting such use. The majority of students reported accessing pornography through internet-related technologies. Additionally, 17.0, 20.4, and 13.5% of students reported severe or extremely severe levels of depression, anxiety and stress, respectively, with compulsive pornography use significantly affecting all three mental health parameters in both sexes. Exploratory Factor Analysis identified three factors suggesting emotional coping, dependence and preoccupation for the mCIUS items and three factors reflecting interoceptive, impotent, and extrinsic characteristics for the EmSS items. Regression analysis indicated that various demographics, items pertaining to reduced control and social impairment, and other variables pertaining to pornography use predicted mental health outcomes. Faith, morals and personal motivation were the primary variables reported to help reduce pornography use.

Conclusion: Our analyses indicate a significant relationship between mental health and pornography use, including behaviors reflecting behavioral addictions, highlighting the necessity for a better understanding and consideration of the potential contribution of internet pornography to negative mental health among university students.
...
Additionally, compulsive internet pornography use has also been shown to be associated with an increased level of isolation (Green et al., 2012). This is evident in the responses to the EmSS items inquiring about when the pornography was more likely to be viewed, specifically, the number of respondents who indicated that they were more likely to view pornography when alone or feeling lonely. The relationship between pornography and addiction, however, is complex. Butler et al. (2018) reports that the relationship between pornography consumption and loneliness is bidirectional. It is possible that relationship distress due to pornography use increases loneliness, while loneliness encourages pornography consumption due to its potential use as a coping mechanism. This is reflected in the findings of Popovic (2011) indicating that those who consume greater amounts of pornography demonstrate a higher craving for intimate relationships. Related to this are the EmSS items grouped under the factor labeled as Impotent, which reflect pornography use in situations associated with reduced possibilities of being able to engage in sexual intercourse.

I previously served as a bishop of a ward in Provo.  Lots and lots of young marrieds moving in and out, most while attending BYU or UVU.  In my experience, one of the most common issues facing members of the Church who seek pastoral care is mental/emotional health, and most of the men with such issues also had issues with pornography.  Over time I developed a few cumulative anecdotal observations:

1. A Seemingly Healthy Construct: Young married Latter-day Saint men who were using pornography (and who sought out help/guidance) were, well, A) young and B) married and C) active in the Church.  "Young" generally correlated with a healthy sex drive, and "married" generally correlated with companionship and access to sex, and "active in the Church" also provided a fairly good social circle/community.  In other words, you would think that a young man situated in this way would not need pornography.  And yet many (most?) struggle with it anyway.

2. Lack of 'Community' in Elders Quorum, Resulting in Loneliness: Notwithstanding the foregoing attributes, I think many of these men were, for lack of a better term, "lonely."  There is currently another thread on this board ("The Problem w LDSMen"), which is discussing a YouTube video: The Problem With Men And Masculinity In The Church.  Putting aside the internal debate in that thread about the overall merits of that video, I think one issue that it raises is noteworthy, namely, that adult men in the Church often do not have a very strong sense of cohesion, community, fellowship, esprit de corps, in the Elders Quorum.  The Church puts a lot of time, money and effort into the youth programs, and the Relief Society often has a very strong sense of mutual support, love, encouragement, and "community."  Not so much for the members of the Elders Quorum.  From the above video:

Quote

Speaker 1: Generally speaking, the Church is really good at creating structure and opportunities for some some of these positive experiences {had by young men in the Church}.  Through those youth years we have FSY, a remarkable organization.  We have weekday activities {for the young men}.  These are crucial for those developmental years.  After we graduate from the youth programs, we go on missions ... {and} it's a structure where we're sending you across the world, and you're going to this country to learn the language.  You hear these stories ... that are epic, we almost feel like we are in a movie.  But when we come home, and then it's like 'Hey, just get married ... make sure you dial in that date night, go get a job, go to college, ... get those kids to church, do FHE, and don't forget Come Follow Me...'  Suddenly, {the structured means of developing bonds and individual and community progress} are instantly gone.   The structure of feeding the soul of a man, ...  transformational {experiences}.  They just fall off.

Speaker 2: Wait a minute.  You're describing something that is coming up to the time of marriage, or at least in your early 20s, then it's gone.  Well, the 'structure' becomes the family.  Or, if you're not married, you're ... isolated.  What do we do then?

I think these guys are on to something.  I think men in the Church often do not have much in the way of a social system (in the Church) wherein they can find camaraderie, support, fellowship, etc.  The Elders Quorum is supposed to fulfill those needs, but I think it often falls short.  As a result, men in the Church feel . . . lonely.  I think this is often more potently affecting never-married / divorced / widowed men, as a married man has his wife and children for companionship.  But even married men struggle with this, as obligations to spouse, children, work, etc. can be significant.  The "messaging" from the Church about the importance of family and familial obligations can - likely inadvertently - result in a married man feeling unable to spend time on building social bonds with others in the Elders Quorum (akin to how so many women in the Church seem to do in Relief Society).  So while a married man may have fellowship in his family, he - along with the never-married / divorced / widowed men in his ward - often does not have a strong sense of cohesion/community/camaraderie in the Elders Quorum.  Many of these men, then, can - however ironic it may sound - feel "lonely."  And for a young married man, that loneliness is often compounded by A) challenges inherent in acclimating to married life (including acclimated to sexual activity, which is often a very new thing for young Latter-day Saints), and B) stress induced by going to school, working, etc.

3. Pornography as a Coping Mechanism: During my tenure as a bishop, I met with many young married men who struggled with pornography.  One of the matters we discussed was the specific circumstances in which they turned to it.  Over time, I came to see some common threads:

  • These young men seemed to mostly use pornography as a "coping mechanism" for A) boredom, B) fatigue and/or C) stress.  That is, it was often less a matter of needing an outlet for unspent sexual urges, and more often a matter of coping with one or more the above matters.  Virtually all of them reported feeling bored and/or tired and/or stressed as an immediate precursor to looking at pornography.
  • Essentially all pornography used by these men was online.  No magazines, DVDs, etc.  Just stuff they looked at online.
  • Smartphones (and, to a lesser extent, tablets) were overwhelmingly the means of accessing pornography.
  • The "immediacy" of access to pornography had a very big impact.  In the past, a person tempted to use pornography had to work a bit to get access to it.  Sometimes that work, and the time needed to do it (get in the car, drive to the gas station or liquor store or whatever, pay for the pornographic magazine, keeping it hidden after returning home, etc.) created some "space" between the impulse and being able to act on that impulse.  In that interval, between the impulse and acting on it, the individual had time to potentially pause, ponder and listen to his better angels.  The advent of "always on" Internet access, particularly via small mobile devices, changed all that.  Now there is virtually no temporal gap between the impulse to use pornography and acting on that impulse, as pornography is accessible instantly, any time, anywhere, and even free.
  • Secrecy in the use of pornography was essentially ubiquitous.  The use was A) late at night, after the wife was fast asleep, B) when the wife was at school/work, C) when the young man was away from home (often in his car), D) during a "surfing the Net" session (often out of boredom or habit) that started innocuously, but then veered into accessing pornography.  

4. Alternative Coping Mechanisms: Sorting out pornography issues with these young men involved a multivariate approach.  Success was intermittent because the individual was intermittent in his desire to address and overcome the issue, or was not in the ward long enough to fully address these issues, etc.  Nevertheless, I did see some real improvement in discussing the following items:

  • "Addiction" or "Coping Mechanism" - Some of these men clearly had an "addiction" to pornography (I use that term as a layman).  Others, however, seemed to use pornography as a coping mechanism.  There was almost always a strong correlation between the individual using porn and the individual being/feeling stressed, tired or bored.  They often reported that taking specific and ongoing steps to alleviate these issues (stress, fatigue, boredom) resulted in a reduction in both their actual use of pornography and their impulses/desires to use it.  
  • "Slaying the Monster" v. "Overcoming the Habit" - Again, some of these men clearly had an addiction to pornography.  Quite a few, however, seemed to help themselves by viewing pornography as a (very) bad habit to be overcome, rather than an overwhelmingly powerful "addiction" monster to be slain.  A bad habit to be overcome through effort and specific behavioral changes, not permanently-entrenched and insuperable character defect.
  • Focus on Good Things - Most of the young men I worked with were returned missionaries who had married in the temple.  And yet their use of pornography was very often paired with a substantial fall-off in their doing the "small and simple" things that we as Latter-day Saints are encouraged to do.  Daily prayer and scripture study.  Attendance at the temple.  Dates with the wife and other efforts to nurture/strengthen the marital relationship.  Family history research.  Service projects.  Returning to and focusing on these regular behaviors had a strong countering effect to impulses to use pornography.
  • Improving Eating / Hydration / Sleeping / Exercise Habits - Most of the young men I worked with were, in addition to having lapsed in their spiritual/emotional observances (see above), had also tended to have poor habits in terms of eating, hydration, sleep, and/or exercise.  Again, returning to (or starting) and focusing on these regular behaviors had a strong countering effect to impulses to use pornography.  Many of the men were genuinely astonished at how quickly their impulse to use pornography dissipated when they were taking better care of their physical health (as well as their spiritual/emotional health).
  • Time, Place, Manner - Virtually all of the young men I worked with reported what I called "time, place and manner" problems associated with their use of pornography.  By "time" I mean they were (by their own estimation) spending far too much time online, and often late at night (when they were fatigued, and hence had less impulse control).  By "place" I mean they were using the Internet in secret (in the bathroom, in the car, in a room with a door closed and locked to his wife, etc.).  By "manner" I mean that their use of the Internet which culminated in viewing pornography was usually "idle," as in they were online for not particular purpose, they were just "surfing the Net."  Viewing their use of the Internet in this way helped them develop countermeasures to the impulse to view pornography.  Re: "time," they would turn off their WiFi at a specific time each night, or else take other measures to limit their time online and the time of day they were on it.  They would often enlist the wife in these efforts.  Re: "place," they would would ditch their smartphone in favor of a flip-phone, or agree with the wife that the laptop can only be used in the front room and facing the room, etc.  Re: "manner," they would work on limiting their use of the Internet to time needed to complete "necessaries" (education, communication, working, shopping, etc.), and would otherwise not be online.
  • Therapy - As a bishop, I recognized my limitations.  I therefore encouraged these young men to get professional therapy on addressing these issues.  I often authorized financial assistance for this.
  • A Process, Not an Event - I also found these young men were helped by viewing overcoming their use of pornography more as a "process" than as a discrete and specific "event."  This was not to excuse or encourage use of pornography by any means, but rather to acknowledge that relapsing into a habit that has lasted years is nearly a given, so a "I'm Quitting Cold Turkey" could end up being too discouraging.  The individual needed to acknowledge the likelihood of failure so that it would not debilitate him when it happened.  In the immortal words of Alfred Pennyworth: "Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up."
11 hours ago, pogi said:

It is not surprising to me at all to see the association between religiosity, porn use, and damaged relationships.  This is a very important bit of data that needs to be understood by the church.   Many people may struggle with this idea, but it is true as anything that I know - it is our perceptions that are the problem and porn is just a symptom.  Yes, the church has a played a significant role in forming these hurtful perceptions that damage individuals and relationships over this issue.  This is not to blame the church or point the finger, but they need to understand their role in where things stand today. It didn't need to be as painful and as damaging to our relationship as it was.  Neither of us understood what we were dealing with and what we were up against and were both scared to death and felt out of control.  The church only threw fuel on those flames and increased damaging misperceptions unknowingly.  The shaming by the church growing up was brutal.  Little did they know that shame itself was the demon and the disease that they were feeding and fueling.  They have come a long way and have a long way to go.

Could you elaborate on this?  When you say "it is our perceptions that are the problem," what are you referencing?  Our perceptions of what?

11 hours ago, pogi said:

Here is the struggle for spouses - it feels like infidelity.  That is how Jesus himself framed it after all - he who looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart.

I hate to go up against Jesus on this issue, but it needs to be understood that porn addiction is another beast all together.  It isn't about sex.  It isn't about perversion.  It isn't about wanting a relationship with another woman, it isn't about lack of virtue, it isn't about poor self-control or lack of will-power.  That is all a superficial, shallow, and damaging perceptions of the issue that is responsible for causing so much damage to relationships in the church.  

I agree with some of this, but not with all of it.  

11 hours ago, pogi said:

What it is about is core beliefs, even subconscious beliefs about oneself.  

I don't understand what you are saying here.  What is the relationship you see between the use of pornography and "core beliefs, even subconscious beliefs about oneself"?

11 hours ago, pogi said:

No one becomes an addict without being a victim in some way.  Not necessary sexually, but a victim of toxic shame.

Could you elaborate on this?  What do you mean by "toxic shame?"  Shame, like "guilt" and "anger" and a few other emotions, does not seem inherently bad, as evidenced by you modifying it with "toxic."  So what manifestations of shame are "toxic," and which are not?

11 hours ago, pogi said:

This is not said to remove accountability, but to enhance healing.  Toxic shame is about our perceptions of self - that we are broken, that we are unlovable, etc. 

I agree with this, but I don't understand it relative to the use of pornography.  I think this sort of shame usually arises as a consequent effect (of using pornography), but you seem to be suggesting it is a antecedent or cause.  Am I reading your correctly?

I think in our day and age, most exposure to pornography is precipitated by curiosity and burgeoning sexual feelings associated with puberty.  The ease of access then turns the idly curious foray into a sequence of them, and over time a pattern emerges.  A habit, or an addiction.  This can happen to people who feel great about themselves as much as those who feel terrible about themselves.

11 hours ago, pogi said:

These beliefs are off-limits to the world.  Too painful to address.  They are often off-limits to the individual and we tuck these beliefs deep down in the dark recess of our hearts that we are too afraid to visit because of the pain.  We believe that if people knew the real us, we would be rejected and discarded.  This leads to devastating and deadly isolation and causes us to form "false-selfs" that we portray to the world.  We wear masks.  Even with many friends and family surrounding us, we feel isolated and lonely.  We feel unknown.  We feel like there is no one on earth that knows the real us.  This makes true intimacy impossible.  "They don't love the real me, they don't even know the real me", we tell ourselves, so it all feels phony and unreal.   That is where porn comes in.  It helps numb the pain of isolation and feeling unlovable by creating a pseudo-intimacy.  It is highly addictive for that reason.  We can remain in the comforts of isolation without exposing our true "unacceptable" selves to the world and experience a form of pseudo intimacy to fill in the gaps.  Absent other serious character flaws and issues, porn addicts are nothing more then hurt, victimized and scared little children forced behind an impenetrable wall wanting to be noticed and loved.

Hmm.  I would like to see some empirical data on this.  My sense is that, for some, having feelings of isolation, guilt, self-dislike/loathing, etc. may well precede the use of pornography, but that plenty of happy and well-adjusted people start looking at it in their teens, and end up with pornography habits/addictions, such that the isolation, guilt, etc. are consequent, rather than antecedent, to the use of pornography.

11 hours ago, pogi said:

It was the lack of understanding of any of that and not having the language and wherewithal to discuss and address the issue and how/why it is affecting our relationship that made it all so difficult.  It wasn't the porn itself per se.  Simply understanding the nature of the beast will not solve all the problems, but it opens up understanding and channels of communication, and most importantly it can generate empathy and break down barriers.  Once my wife understood the nature of my addiction as I started to open up to her, her heart opened up to me and she became a source of strength and healing for me as we worked together to make a safe environment for the real me to have a REAL and safe relationship with my wife.  She worked on creating a safe space for the real me, that little scared child to come out of hiding to be seen and loved.  Nothing is more scary in this world to an addict than exposure of the real self.  It is akin to Adam coming out of hiding, thinking that God would completely reject and destroy him and proclaiming "here I am".  But, THAT is the only way that this issue goes away.  Nothing else will do.  The antidote to pornography is true intimacy.  I am not talking about sexual intimacy.  I am talking about making oneself vulnerable enough to be seen and loved for who you are.  When "I am unlovable" is eventually converted to "I am loved", true healing begins.  It is not a path for the faint of heart.  

Wonderful stuff.  Thank you for sharing.

11 hours ago, pogi said:

In summary, again I am concerned about the stigma this may create, the misguided attacks on the symptoms rather than focusing on healing of the disease.  I am concerned that it may cause many to view those who consume porn as villains who are weak in self-control and will be viewed as marriage killers.  If that level of shame is thrown on them without ever coming to an understanding of the nature of the problem, that would be a shame that may become impenetrable.

I don't know about that.  I think folks in the Church, and the Church itself, are getting better at addressing pornography.  The problem is ubiquitous, so there doesn't seem to be an across-the-board "villain" characterization.  However, in some instances it can grow to a point where - for a particular couple - it can be a "marriage killer," or else materially contribute to the destruction of the relationship.  Ask any divorce lawyer about the prevalence of pornography as a substantial (though generally not sole) factor in the dissolution of their clients' marriages.

11 hours ago, pogi said:

The church can help by turning us to God.  It is through this dark time that I discovered the power of meditative prayer and discovered the healing source of unconditional love.  It is experiencing God's unconditional love that gave me the courage to be vulnerable with others as well.  The addiction recovery program is helpful in reducing the stigma and helping us understand that we are not alone and providing us with good resources for healing with valuable steps towards recovery.  The church can hurt by repeating the rhetoric of past generations (which still exists in places) surrounding pornography.  Yes, there is a reason why religiosity is associated with negative outcomes.  That can change and needs to change, but it will be a long, long time before the damage that has been cause will be erased from our culture.   

It will be interesting to see this play out.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Thanks,

-Smac

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25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  I think these discussions are, or can be, important.

Addiction to pornography is, I think, a genuine and real issue.  My question is whether it is an "addiction" for everyone who struggles with it.  For example, I would like to understand the distinction (if any) between "addiction" and "coping mechanism."  See, e.g., here:

And here:

And here:

I previously served as a bishop of a ward in Provo.  Lots and lots of young marrieds moving in and out, most while attending BYU or UVU.  In my experience, one of the most common issues facing members of the Church who seek pastoral care is mental/emotional health, and most of the men with such issues also had issues with pornography.  Over time I developed a few cumulative anecdotal observations:

1. A Seemingly Healthy Construct: Young married Latter-day Saint men who were using pornography (and who sought out help/guidance) were, well, A) young and B) married and C) active in the Church.  "Young" generally correlated with a healthy sex drive, and "married" generally correlated with companionship and access to sex, and "active in the Church" also provided a fairly good social circle/community.  In other words, you would think that a young man situated in this way would not need pornography.  And yet many (most?) struggle with it anyway.

2. Lack of 'Community' in Elders Quorum, Resulting in Loneliness: Notwithstanding the foregoing attributes, I think many of these men were, for lack of a better term, "lonely."  There is currently another thread on this board ("The Problem w LDSMen"), which is discussing a YouTube video: The Problem With Men And Masculinity In The Church.  Putting aside the internal debate in that thread about the overall merits of that video, I think one issue that it raises is noteworthy, namely, that adult men in the Church often do not have a very strong sense of cohesion, community, fellowship, esprit de corps, in the Elders Quorum.  The Church puts a lot of time, money and effort into the youth programs, and the Relief Society often has a very strong sense of mutual support, love, encouragement, and "community."  Not so much for the members of the Elders Quorum.  From the above video:

I think these guys are on to something.  I think men in the Church often do not have much in the way of a social system (in the Church) wherein they can find camaraderie, support, fellowship, etc.  The Elders Quorum is supposed to fulfill those needs, but I think it often falls short.  As a result, men in the Church feel . . . lonely.  I think this is often more potently affecting never-married / divorced / widowed men, as a married man has his wife and children for companionship.  But even married men struggle with this, as obligations to spouse, children, work, etc. can be significant.  The "messaging" from the Church about the importance of family and familial obligations can - likely inadvertently - result in a married man feeling unable to spend time on building social bonds with others in the Elders Quorum (akin to how so many women in the Church seem to do in Relief Society).  So while a married man may have fellowship in his family, he - along with the never-married / divorced / widowed men in his ward - often does not have a strong sense of cohesion/community/camaraderie in the Elders Quorum.  Many of these men, then, can - however ironic it may sound - feel "lonely."  And for a young married man, that loneliness is often compounded by A) challenges inherent in acclimating to married life (including acclimated to sexual activity, which is often a very new thing for young Latter-day Saints), and B) stress induced by going to school, working, etc.

3. Pornography as a Coping Mechanism: During my tenure as a bishop, I met with many young married men who struggled with pornography.  One of the matters we discussed was the specific circumstances in which they turned to it.  Over time, I came to see some common threads:

  • These young men seemed to mostly use pornography as a "coping mechanism" for A) boredom, B) fatigue and/or C) stress.  That is, it was often less a matter of needing an outlet for unspent sexual urges, and more often a matter of coping with one or more the above matters.  Virtually all of them reported feeling bored and/or tired and/or stressed as an immediate precursor to looking at pornography.  
  • Essentially all pornography used by these men was online.  No magazines, DVDs, etc.  Just stuff they looked at online.
  • Smartphones (and, to a lesser extent, tablets) were overwhelmingly the means of accessing pornography.
  • The "immediacy" of access to pornography had a very big impact.  In the past, a person tempted to use pornography had to work a bit to get access to it.  Sometimes that work, and the time needed to do it (get in the car, drive to the gas station or liquor store or whatever, pay for the pornographic magazine, keeping it hidden after returning home, etc.) created some "space" between the impulse and being able to act on that impulse.  In that interval, between the impulse and acting on it, the individual had time to potentially pause, ponder and listen to his better angels.  The advent of "always on" Internet access, particularly via small mobile devices, changed all that.  Now there is virtually no temporal gap between the impulse to use pornography and acting on that impulse, as pornography is accessible instantly, any time, anywhere, and even free.
  • Secrecy in the use of pornography was essentially ubiquitous.  The use was A) late at night, after the wife was fast asleep, B) when the wife was at school/work, C) when the young man was away from home (often in his car), D) during a "surfing the Net" session (often out of boredom or habit) that started innocuously, but then veered into accessing pornography.  

4. Alternative Coping Mechanisms: Sorting out pornography issues with these young men involved a multivariate approach.  Success was intermittent because the individual was intermittent in his desire to address and overcome the issue, or was not in the ward long enough to fully address these issues, etc.  Nevertheless, I did see some real improvement in discussing the following items:

  • "Addiction" or "Coping Mechanism" - Some of these men clearly had an "addiction" to pornography (I use that term as a layman).  Others, however, seemed to use pornography as a coping mechanism.  There was almost always a strong correlation between the individual using porn and the individual being/feeling stressed, tired or bored.  They often reported that taking specific and ongoing steps to alleviate these issues (stress, fatigue, boredom) resulted in a reduction in both their actual use of pornography and their impulses/desires to use it.  
  • "Slaying the Monster" v. "Overcoming the Habit" - Again, some of these men clearly had an addiction to pornography.  Quite a few, however, seemed to help themselves by viewing pornography as a (very) bad habit to be overcome, rather than an overwhelmingly powerful "addiction" monster to be slain.  A bad habit to be overcome through effort and specific behavioral changes, not permanently-entrenched and insuperable character defect.
  • Focus on Good Things - Most of the young men I worked with were returned missionaries who had married in the temple.  And yet their use of pornography was very often paired with a substantial fall-off in their doing the "small and simple" things that we as Latter-day Saints are encouraged to do.  Daily prayer and scripture study.  Attendance at the temple.  Dates with the wife and other efforts to nurture/strengthen the marital relationship.  Family history research.  Service projects.  Returning to and focusing on these regular behaviors had a strong countering effect to impulses to use pornography.
  • Improving Eating / Hydration / Sleeping / Exercise Habits - Most of the young men I worked with were, in addition to having lapsed in their spiritual/emotional observances (see above), had also tended to have poor habits in terms of eating, hydration, sleep, and/or exercise.  Again, returning to (or starting) and focusing on these regular behaviors had a strong countering effect to impulses to use pornography.  Many of the men were genuinely astonished at how quickly their impulse to use pornography dissipated when they were taking better care of their physical health (as well as their spiritual/emotional health).
  • Time, Place, Manner - Virtually all of the young men I worked with reported what I called "time, place and manner" problems associated with their use of pornography.  By "time" I mean they were (by their own estimation) spending far too much time online, and often late at night (when they were fatigued, and hence had less impulse control).  By "place" I mean they were using the Internet in secret (in the bathroom, in the car, in a room with a door closed and locked to his wife, etc.).  By "manner" I mean that their use of the Internet which culminated in viewing pornography was usually "idle," as in they were online for not particular purpose, they were just "surfing the Net."  Viewing their use of the Internet in this way helped them develop countermeasures to the impulse to view pornography.  Re: "time," they would turn off their WiFi at a specific time each night, or else take other measures to limit their time online and the time of day they were on it.  They would often enlist the wife in these efforts.  Re: "place," they would would ditch their smartphone in favor of a flip-phone, or agree with the wife that the laptop can only be used in the front room and facing the room, etc.  Re: "manner," they would work on limiting their use of the Internet to time needed to complete "necessaries" (education, communication, working, shopping, etc.), and would otherwise not be online.
  • Therapy - As a bishop, I recognized my limitations.  I therefore encouraged these young men to get professional therapy on addressing these issues.  I often authorized financial assistance for this.
  • A Process, Not an Event - I also found these young men were helped by viewing overcoming their use of pornography more as a "process" than as a discrete and specific "event."  This was not to excuse or encourage use of pornography by any means, but rather to acknowledge that relapsing into a habit that has lasted years is nearly a given, so a "I'm Quitting Cold Turkey" could end up being too discouraging.  The individual needed to acknowledge the likelihood of failure so that it would not debilitate him when it happened.  In the immortal words of Alfred Pennyworth: "Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up."

Could you elaborate on this?  When you say "it is our perceptions that are the problem," what are you referencing?  Our perceptions of what?

I agree with some of this, but not with all of it.  

I don't understand what you are saying here.  What is the relationship you see between the use of pornography and "core beliefs, even subconscious beliefs about oneself"?

Could you elaborate on this?  What do you mean by "toxic shame?"  Shame, like "guilt" and "anger" and a few other emotions, does not seem inherently bad, as evidenced by you modifying it with "toxic."  So what manifestations of shame are "toxic," and which are not?

I agree with this, but I don't understand it relative to the use of pornography.  I think this sort of shame usually arises as a consequent effect (of using pornography), but you seem to be suggesting it is a antecedent or cause.  Am I reading your correctly?

I think in our day and age, most exposure to pornography is precipitated by curiosity and burgeoning sexual feelings associated with puberty.  The ease of access then turns the idly curious foray into a sequence of them, and over time a pattern emerges.  A habit, or an addiction.  This can happen to people who feel great about themselves as much as those who feel terrible about themselves.

Hmm.  I would like to see some empirical data on this.  My sense is that, for some, having feelings of isolation, guilt, self-dislike/loathing, etc. may well precede the use of pornography, but that plenty of happy and well-adjusted people start looking at it in their teens, and end up with pornography habits/addictions, such that the isolation, guilt, etc. are consequent, rather than antecedent, to the use of pornography.

Wonderful stuff.  Thank you for sharing.

I don't know about that.  I think folks in the Church, and the Church itself, are getting better at addressing pornography.  The problem is ubiquitous, so there doesn't seem to be an across-the-board "villain" characterization.  However, in some instances it can grow to a point where - for a particular couple - it can be a "marriage killer," or else materially contribute to the destruction of the relationship.  Ask any divorce lawyer about the prevalence of pornography as a substantial (though generally not sole) factor in the dissolution of their clients' marriages.

It will be interesting to see this play out.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Thanks,

-Smac

I don't have time to respond to all right now.  But quickly, no, I don't think it is a true addiction for all, or even most, but it can be for some and it is a worse problem inside religion than out.  There is lots of good research on this, some of which is from neuroscientists who compare the anatomy of the brain of porn addicts with drug addicts and the exact same atrophy seen in the amygdala (pleasure center of the brain) is noted.   Symptomatically and neurological anatomy/atrophy of the brain is identical.  They both feed on the same drug - dopamine.   

Edited by pogi
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