As children, 40% of men and 60% of current college age students in one study started looking at pornography before the age of 10.
One study shows that 2/3 of kids watch pornography while doing their homework and 70% continue in these behaviors and are at risk for sexually compulsive behavior.
He discusses the real changes and malformations in the brain that occur with these addictions and the chemical responses in the brain.
Dr. Patrick Carnes, psychologist, is an expert, author, and leading authority on Addiction and Sexual Addiction and has been interviewed on Oprah and many talk shows. He calls Sexual Addiction the most significant health issue impacting our country. He states that the way men and women treat each other and raise their children shapes society. He also talks about obesity. 1/3 of adults have a problem with compulsive overeating or food addiction and struggle with obesity.
When we take on responsibilities that belong to others we can take on anxiety and stress that affect our health and ability to help those in ways that empower them. We forfeit healthy relationships. Sometimes helping others can be stressful and burdensome, but when we are hurting ourselves rather than excercising our ability, losing our ability to be helpful, or are enabling someone to be irresponsible we need become aware of our motives and to stop. This is something everyone struggles with and for some people it is a chronic issue related to “codependency”.
“What’s a codependent? The answer is easy. They’re some of the most loving, caring people I know.” Lonny Owen
Some of the oppressive rules of codependency from the book Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie (p. 16)
-Don’t feel or talk about feelings
-Don’t identify, talk about, or solve problems
-Don’t be who you are-be good, right, strong, and perfect
-Don’t be selfish-take care of others and neglect yourself
-Don’t be vulnerable
-Don’t be direct
-Don’t get close to people
-Don’t grow, change, or in any way rock the family’s boat
And some of the core beliefs:
-I’m not lovable
-I don’t deserve good things
-I’ll never succeed
‘Addiction’ is a concept that is in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but not a diagnosis. There is substance abuse and dependence, which carry the concept, but there are things that one can be ‘addicted’ to that are not drugs or even substances.
Whether it can be ‘diagnosed’ as a medical desease or not, it is a problem. Some are glad to have a name and label such as ‘alcoholism’, others feel replacing the idea of ‘sinner’ with a label that has stigma like ‘alcoholic’ can be just as damaging to one’s identity (Prentiss, 13). At least if one is a ‘sinner’ they can claim they are also a ‘saint’ and filled with the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ by his grace and nothing they have done. However, understanding the problem is complex, can be biological, genetic, imbedded in family dynamics, and involved some things out of one’s control is also freeing. Either way one has to take responisbility. Whatever the problem is labeled or diagnosed it is important to find a way to become aware of and recognize the underlying issues, beliefs, impaired thinking, and abusive cycle that drives the ‘addiction’.
The video above is an excerpt of an interview with Patrick Carnes, who is the author of the book Out of the Shadows; Understanding Sexual Addiction. This book is used in some sex offender treatment programs to help men recover from sexual addiction and explains how the cycle of abuse and addiction begin.
Carnes lays out four core beliefs of addiction: 1) I am basically a bad, unworthy person. (stems for abandonment); 2) No one would love me as I am (leads to putting up a mask- image of the self so people can not really know them and thus possibly reject them); 3) My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend on others; 4) _____________ is my most important need (Carnes, 99-102). Important core beliefs develop in childhood even before age 6 about the self, relationships, needs, and feelings (Carnes, 97).
Carnes gives an in depth explaination of the pattern of thought, feeling, and behavior that creates the unhealthy cycle of addiction. Impaired thinking such as blaming others, rationalizing the addictive behavior, self-deulusion, denial, justification, suspicion of others, paranoia, and minimization of the harmful affects of the addiction on oneself, others, and the community all support the behavior and false belief system. He also discusses the role of ‘cosigners’ and ‘enablers’, along with the important but not curative role of consequences as minimal as an unfriendly look or loss of small change to going to jail, losing one’s significant other through divorce, or having to attend a program. Below is a sketch of the cycle he lays out in the book.
In this video Dr. Carnes talks about the purpose and need for support groups.
He emphasizes the importance of being in therapy and also meeting with a support group where one can share their story with others who have experienced the same things. One such group is http://www.freedomeveryday.org/
With the internet it can be difficult to manage this addiction and there are several programs for computer internet monitoring that can be helpful such as http://www.covenanteyes.com/
Carnes, Patrick, Ph.D. (2001). Out of the Shados: Understanding Sexual Addiction. Center City, MN: Hazelden.
Prentis, Chris. (2007). The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure. Los Angeles, CA: Power Press.
For more info from Rachel Hofer check www.lovingtherapy.com