Is Porn addiction a cause or a symptom?

Discussion in 'Porn Addiction' started by Porn Free Wanderer, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. Porn Free Wanderer

    Porn Free Wanderer Fapstronaut

    461
    952
    93
    Warning: This is a long post. If you're pressed for time, close this window then come back and read it when you've got more time. Some of you won't agree with me, and that's okay. This is just food for thought.

    So I'm pondering this question after my most recent relapse. I've been on and off these forums for a while, I've read quite a few "success stories" where people have used incredible feats of willpower to go 90, 180 days, or longer, only to relapse later on anyway. Also look at all the youtubers who talk about nofap, and often achieve great streaks before eventually putting out an "I relapsed" video or a "nofap doesn't work" video.

    To be honest, I'm starting to question whether or not abstinence is the right approach. Now don't get me wrong, I realise that abstaining from porn is a fundamental part of quitting the addiction. I'm certainly not suggesting that people should all go out and relapse right now. However, I think there are a few things that the "just do a 90 day reboot, man" crowd might be missing.

    Firstly, here is some bad news. We are biologically driven to procreate, and therefore be aroused by sexual stimuli. Yes, I accept that a percentage of the population is homosexual, and I don't judge them for that, but really, it's irrelevant because they still have the same drives the rest of us do. They just find different things attractive. The point is, I no longer believe trying to suppress those desires is going to work.

    To be honest, the fact that some men feel that the sight of a naked attractive woman is a 'trigger' is ridiculous. You should be triggered by that. Being aroused by a naked woman is a sign of healthy sexuality. Nor do I believe that going home and jerking off to the memory of her (assuming she's not on a screen) is going to send you spiralling into a world of depravity, or drain your ultra masculine alpha male sperm chakra.

    Nor do I believe that a guy who goes out to a bar or a club, spends a few hours trying to pick up, but goes home and jerks off when he fails necessarily has a problem. At least he's gone out and talked to real people. Personally, I think that's healthier than the guy who goes online and posts about all his life's problems on a message board all day, but somehow has a 'streak' on nofap.

    So who do I think has a problem with porn? The guy who's always late for work because he sat up late the night before watching porn has a problem. The guy who watches porn instead of going out and meeting real people has a problem. The guy who watches depraved forms of porn that threaten his legal rights within his own community definitely has a problem. The guy who watches so much porn his dick stops working has a problem. The guy who wastes a fuck-ton of money on hookers trying to relive porn scenes also has a problem.

    Think of it this way: the left of the spectrum is the guy who does some or all of the things I mentioned in the above paragraph. The right of the spectrum is trying to trick your brain into believing that your sexuality is evil, vile, useless and something to be ashamed off. Neither extreme is healthy, but don't take my word for it. Just look how many Catholic Priests try to position themselves on the right of the spectrum and end up doing inappropriate things to children.

    The question is, what differentiates the guy who develops a porn problem from the guy who does not? I'm beginning to think that excessive use of porn is a symptom of other underlying issues. In that regard, I'm starting to wonder if porn is any different from any other vices, like drugs or alcohol. I've often said that the reason I developed a porn problem was because I received drug and alcohol education at school, but there was nothing at porn save for a few moral objections from people who had never seen it (or so they claimed).

    The real question is why I developed an addiction to anything in the first place. Was it just some underlying issue of loneliness (I was a loner as a teenager and still am to some extent), depression and/or stagnation? Was it just a way to find 'certainty' in a world ruled by chaos and uncertainty? Was it simply an attempt to get back something I felt I had 'lost' from the past (maybe an opportunity or another girl)?

    The thing is, we have to accept some truths here. The past isn't coming back, and stewing over missed opportunities or past mistakes will only cause us to miss more opportunities. It's actually a vicious circle. We do something we're conditioned to be 'ashamed' of, then we spend so long beating ourselves up about it that we miss an opportunity to do something or have something. That missed opportunity depresses us, and we slide back into the same rabbit hole all over again. I'm about to re-read Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, which actually covers this very point. Sometimes life sucks and we make mistakes, and that's okay.

    So what is the answer? I now believe the true answer is to move yourself to the middle of the spectrum I mentioned four paragraphs ago. After all, life isn't waiting 90 days for you to "reboot". That cute girl you like? If you don't move on her now, some other guy will, and she won't tell him to back off just because she's waiting 90 days for you to reboot. That mountain you want to climb? If the sun's shining outside, today's the best day to do it.

    Put some porn blockers on your computer and phone, then go and do those things, or anything else you might have wanted to do. Above all, don't be ashamed of the things you're attracted to. Don't be ashamed of your sexuality (but please, control it enough so that you at least wait until you get home to rub one out to the memory of woman with the best ass in your hiking club wearing tights).

    Stop counting up days and streaks. For two reasons. Firstly, do you think that a porn problem of 10+ years is going to be 'cured' by 90 days of abstinence? Please. That could take several years of gradual improvement -- all the more reason to start living life today. Secondly, streaks are often misleading as I alluded to above. The guy who goes from several multi-hour porn binges a week to simply fapping without porn once a week for around 10 minutes or so has made HUGE progress, regardless of his counter only showing six days.

    And an idea I learned from Neil Strauss in The Truth that I'm going to try out: If the urge to watch porn becomes overpowering (or threatens to do so), go and rub one out BEFORE you watch it. Then see if you still want to spend hours trying to find the 'perfect' porn clip. If you're thinking of visiting an escort, rub one out FIRST, then see if you still want to spend $200+ on some woman who doesn't care about you and looks nothing like her 10 year old photoshopped picture.

    I will conclude this rather long-winded post with a quote from Shelley Lubben (the former porn actress who founded the Pink Cross foundation to help women out of porn). Shelley had a section on porn addiction on that site back in the day, and her suggestion was to create new habits, rather than trying to stop old habits. I think Shelley might have been right after all.
     
  2. I'm not sure what the goal of your thread is, but according to the title I can say that porn is definitely a symptom.
     
    _Xavier_ and Warrior Within like this.
  3. Porn Free Wanderer

    Porn Free Wanderer Fapstronaut

    461
    952
    93
    To be honest I don't really know what the 'goal' is either. I guess it's because what I've been doing previously hasn't been working, so I'm considering other approaches.
     
    Warrior Within likes this.
  4. Ah that makes sense to me.

    A question for you: do you believe porn is a symptom or a problem?
    Do you believe that if we face our deep issues, the need for porn will go away?
     
  5. Porn Free Wanderer

    Porn Free Wanderer Fapstronaut

    461
    952
    93
    For a long time I thought porn was the problem itself. The fact that was able to stay away from other addictions such as drugs or alcohol further convinced me of this. But I've been rethinking that position lately. Most of my recent relapses have involved chat rooms, tumblr blogs or commenting on videos on tube sites. I now believe that deep down I was looking for some kind of connection, the kind I just didn't have before. It just felt easier at the time to hit up those chat rooms and the like because I "knew" that I already had something in common with the people there. Going out and meeting new people requires us to get out of our comfort zones, which can be scary if you've been a loner up until that point.

    So yeah, I now believe that porn addiction (or any other addiction) is likely a symptom of unmet needs in broader life. But it's also a bit of a catch-22, because I know from experience that the temporary comfort of porn can definitely decrease our motivation and drive to seek out the things that will really give us fulfilment.
     
    Connaisseur, _Xavier_, Hitto and 3 others like this.
  6. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

    789
    1,434
    123
    Is porn a cause or a symptom? I'd say both.

    Indeed, when porn addictions first develop, it is easy to view the problem as a symptom of deeper problems in our life. Abuse, trauma, negligence, insecurity are common reasons for addictions to develop. So, in a way, a porn addiction can be viewed as a symptom of those underlying issues. However, after a certain amount of time, a porn addiction becomes more than just a symptom and starts to become a force of nature on its own. It starts to affect your sexual and psychological well-being, starts to isolate you, and starts to eat away at your life.

    So, it really looks like both to me.
     
  7. DeludedSoul

    DeludedSoul Fapstronaut

    40
    341
    53
    I agree. Porn is an underlying issue rather than a symptom per se. That's the reason we keep on seeing so many relapses every now and then on this forum. The only cure I think is to start knowing ourselves by going inwards and also trusting the Higher power within us who created us.
     
    Connaisseur, Hitto and slitebg like this.
  8. Mitness

    Mitness Fapstronaut

  9. Porn Free Wanderer

    Porn Free Wanderer Fapstronaut

    461
    952
    93
    This is a very valid point. In time, porn can and usually does cause problems of it's own. The comfort provided by porn also reduces any incentives one might have to seek help for their underlying problems. After all, it's much easier to fire up a porn site than it is to think back on all those things your father said (or didn't say) when you were younger.

    I suppose the next question is how we should treat a porn addiction. Do we just try to abstain and hope for the best? Or do we concentrate on fixing the other issues, even accepting the occasional relapse, until we feel we don't need porn anymore?
     
  10. Thanks for starting this thread. It's well worth a read.
    For me personally, porn started as a symptom of bigger underlying issues but also then developed into a problem of its own. This led to isolation, and the urge of instant gratification and relaxation through porn whenever I had problems or felt stressed.
    I can only speak for myself here, but I think it is about solving the real underlying issues that triggered me to develop the addiction in the first place. By doing so, I managed to stay porn free without major issues. Even after a very tough break-up I stayed clean except for seeing a pop-up add window that I stared at for 10 seconds.
    I believe that masturbating is ok, if you manage to control the extent of it; meaning NOT everyday or multiple times a day. Suppressing the urge proved to be helpful to me many times. I recommend to find activities to do when you feel the urge. Put the computer and phone away, take a walk, go to the gym, do whatever, but don't stay in your room with the tools to reach porn. If you're outside, your urge decreases and eventually completely passes.
    As @Porn Free Wanderer said, it is crucial to develop a healthy relationship with sex. Go out and meet people!
    I will do so even now soon after a break up to simply get in touch and stay in touch with reality and not put myself up to the danger of going back to porn.
    Meeting people also doesn't mean that you have sex with them or all of them. But making friends and contacts is healthy. It is a basic need of humans to have a group to relate to.
    Honestly, no matter how shy you are or how weird you think you are, there are always people who want to hang out with you. Rebuild your confidence through real life experiences. I don't mean go for the top model in the bar and get depressed if she says no. Meet some friends, tell some jokes, take in the laughs as appreciation and then talk to a cute girl you see.
    Progress is slow, there is no pill to take to solve our issues. Overcoming problems, whether they are the porn addiction itself or the underlying problems takes time, is an incremental process that does not have a predefined time horizon. If you struggle, reach out to friends or find a therapist. I did so and do so and it proves very helpful. Don't expect that they give you a magic solution or so, but they can help you reassess your life and you start from there.

    Help yourself so god (or whatever you believe in) helps you. That being sad, I'm not even religious - I just want to underline that you can't wait for a miracle to happen. But once you start moving, good things will come your way.

    Sorry for the long rant - I wish you all the right mindset and motivation to overcome your problems and reach your goals.
     
    Porn Free Wanderer and Hitto like this.
  11. Ridley

    Ridley Fapstronaut

    789
    1,434
    123
    That's the big question, isn't it...

    Gosh, no. This is what they call "white knuckling it". It's wildly ineffective because it carries with it the implication that you're "giving up porn", which is just false. You aren't giving anything up when you abstain from porn, you're setting yourself free. Don't get me wrong, abstinence from porn is a necessary component for taming your addiction, but it isn't sufficient all by itself.

    I think it's better to relapse a few times and gain a better understanding of yourself and your addiction with each relapse than it is to just white knuckle it until you relapse and become completely confused about why the relapse happened at all.
     
    Porn Free Wanderer likes this.
  12. Dr.Shilo

    Dr.Shilo Fapstronaut

    25
    39
    13
    You address a lot of issues and questions in your post and I'm grateful for your honesty and open opinion. I had a few thoughts while reading and I wanted to share.

    First off about the 90 day reboot and relapse issues. The problem with individuals who "reboot" is that they think the problem will just disappear and they let their guards down and that leads to the relapse because as you said, sexual attraction is a natural biological drive and is not going to disappear. Battling pornography is a lifetime pursuit. It's a way of living. When I say it's a way of living I mean it's a life philosophy of when procreation is appropriate. Abstinence for abstinence sake is foolish. There has to be a greater purpose such as marriage, strong family relationships, greater self respect, and sexual health to name a few.

    When someone does relapse it's important to realize that it was a simple slip up associated with our biological natures and nothing is more important in that moment than forgiving yourself, forgetting the relapse, and moving forward with confidence that it was just a slip up.

    About rubbing one out to avoid temptation to view pornography, this unfortunately is not an option for some individuals whose personal philosophy is that sex is only to be employed between a man and woman in the bond of marriage.
     
    Porn Free Wanderer likes this.
  13. Porn Free Wanderer

    Porn Free Wanderer Fapstronaut

    461
    952
    93
    I think you made a great post, and I agree with most of it, but I just wanted to address this point in particular. It's up to the individual to decide whether or not masturbation is in line with their morals. I was purely referring to it in a practical sense as a crutch one can use while addressing their other issues. A bit like a person trying to quit smoking might use nicotine patches to help them get over the worst of their addiction. You may disagree with masturbation on moral grounds, that is your choice, but I would invite you to consider one question. Is a ten minute masturbation session as bad or worse than a two hour porn binge or a trip to a dodgy part of town to meet an escort? Because if a man MO's before doing either of those things, I guarantee he'll decide to go and do something else.

    However, if you're going to use MO in your routine, it should be done under certain circumstances:

    1. Not more than one or twice a week (three times absolute maximum)
    2. It should never be done at all if you have a partner with whom you are expecting (or expected) to be sexual.
    3. Never anywhere porn is playing.
     
    slitebg likes this.
  14. bravastan

    bravastan Fapstronaut

    103
    144
    43
    Did you come up with these or is this from somewhere? I've been thinking of my own but want something to compare it with
     
    slitebg likes this.
  15. Dr.Shilo

    Dr.Shilo Fapstronaut

    25
    39
    13
    Don't get me wrong I agree that masturbation is a lot better than viewing pornography and is definitely the lesser of two evils. I was just saying that some people also have a goal to eliminate masturbation as well. To which I say that maybe masturbation can be used to avoid pornography (and it indeed works) but eventually there must also be ways to avoid masturbation altogether for those who wish to do so.
     
    Porn Free Wanderer likes this.
  16. Porn Free Wanderer

    Porn Free Wanderer Fapstronaut

    461
    952
    93
    These were ones I came up with myself, they just seem logical to me. I'm always interested in hearing other perspectives on this.

    That's a valid point. I suppose I was relating my own experience where trying to go "hard mode" ultimately led to a massive relapse, and often left me worse off than when I started. Maybe it's better to focus on eliminating one vice at a time. You know the old saying, "Man who chases two rabbits catches none". I also think that once porn is eliminated, the desire (and frequency) of masturbation will decline on it's own regardless. We have to start by getting this artificial stimulation out of our heads.
     
    Dr.Shilo likes this.
  17. Tryingto

    Tryingto Fapstronaut

    There's so much I could address in the IP, no real sense of where to start.

    Perhaps I should simply offer thanks to you, @Porn Free Wanderer, for raising all you do. Many of the ideas / questions you raise have been percolating in my own mind for some time.

    The 'cure all' view of rebooting, for instance. Certainly periods of abstinence can help, but the two most sober recovering sex addicts I know both affirm that the addiction does not actually go away. Thus, after that (admittedly helpful) stretch of no porn, issues of cause and ongoing lifestyle require attention.

    Just mulling all of this over...
     
    Porn Free Wanderer likes this.
  18. _Xavier_

    _Xavier_ Fapstronaut

    143
    214
    43
    I am in a similar situation as far as being somewhat alone and using porn to fill some empty void that wasn't being filled in my life when I was a kid. I definitely think of it as a symptom, just as I would consider drug and alcohol use because they have been linked to certain childhood issues. In this book the author has a theory that porn is an expression of an emotion or emotions that were not allowed to be expressed in childhood.

    Personally I wasn't allowed to have anger (self-preservation) or any preferences. I would have parents' wills inflicted on me and when I was angry I would be further punished. This is a very basic examination but I think it is useful.
     
    Porn Free Wanderer likes this.
  19. I think much of what you are talking about is a persons relationship with porn and the underlying reasons why they use it and their motivations. I always compare it to alcohol, you get people that can have 1 or 2 drinks and leave it at that and go home without any real issues, then you get the bingers who drink on a night out to get completely wasted, they may just be going through a phase or starting a path towards alcoholism and then you get the alcoholic who can't go a day without booze and causes all sorts of problems for themselves and others.

    I think porn affects people in different ways and i wouldn't say the teenager knocking one out to a Playboy centrefold in the bathroom has a problem but like you said, the person who starts to have real life negative effects on things like their career, legal issues, mental health, relationship issues etc then that's a problem.

    For me, personally, absintence is the ONLY way for me to keep control of my life because i'm not naive enough to believe that it will magically be different next time and trust me I tried for two years to quit when i was at my worst trying all sorts of things that didn't work. I see my sobriety as the most precious thing i own.

    Really it isn't as simple as 'just stopping for x amount of days' there are other emotional elements that need to be worked on as well which is why things like talk based therapy can be useful for anxiety and depression which often have a negative relationship with peoples porn use.
     
  20. My opinion is that for a porn addict, a 30/60/90/whatever streak means nothing unless the person changes on the inside. This means taking a look at the "underlying issues".
    Sex is normal and good, but addiction to sex is not normal and not good. For a non-addict, porn and masturbation might be OK. For someone who is addicted to porn and masturbation, these things are not good. For an addict, the problem with saying "I'm only going to do PMO or MO X number of times in a given time period" is that the addiction doesn't work like that in practice. The addict does not have that kind of control over themselves. Maybe the non-addict does.
    Same thing with "rubbing one out" occasionally because of some hot chick. Again, the addict does not have that kind of control. Maybe the non-addict does.
    I think that for addicts, it is self-defeating rationalization to be trying to find reasons for when it might be OK to do PMO or MO. This must be guarded against. That being said, relapses do happen and are perfectly normal.
    Some questions: What does the addict lose from not engaging in PMO or MO? Nothing. Will the addict die if he doesn't engage in PMO or MO? No. Will the addict's health deteriorate if he doesn't engage in PMO or MO? No. Then why the need to preserve PMO or MO in some form? For the addict, the answer to the last question is because they are an addict
     

Share This Page