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FIRST PERSON: I’m addicted to internet porn

I have suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, internet pornography addiction and a severe lack of self-esteem and confidence. I have managed to overcome all of these illnesses without the aid of medication, which I believe can never address the root cause of the problem. Medication may relieve the symptoms of depression but it won’t stop it returning. No one really wants to have to take medication indefinitely to treat a mental illness, there are too many side effects.

I think there are many men out there who are suffering from addiction to internet porn. If I wanted to look at porn twenty years ago I would have had to buy a magazine or a video. Initially I would watch the video over and over because it was new, exciting and highly stimulating. It was fuelling my desire and my mind could not get enough. After a few weeks the novelty had worn off because I had watched all the scenes many times over. Although I would still watch it every couple of weeks, it was no longer dominating my life. I was not addicted to watching it.

Watching porn on the internet is very different because the content is infinite. The excitement is never more than a few clicks away and there is always more to see and discover. Over time I found myself searching for more and more bizarre content in order to satisfy by desires. Where previously I would spend thirty minutes skipping through a video, I was now spending a couple of hours looking at the never ending porn on the web. I would forget about time altogether and then suddenly realise that it was four in the afternoon and I had not eaten lunch.

When it finally occurred to me that I did have other things that I needed to do or I could not physically masturbate any more I would switch the computer off. Shortly after, a feeling of despair and isolation would take hold of me. For every artificially induced high (cause) there is a corresponding low (effect). I would say to myself that I was in control of the situation, that I could stop doing this if I wanted to. The truth was that I was not in control and I was completely addicted to watching internet porn. Within a few days I would again have the overriding urge to surf porn on the internet; the potential high, excitement and adrenalin rush was too much to resist.

My addiction was having severe negative consequences in my life, both mentally and physically. Apart from the initial depression I would start perceiving women differently and would find it sometimes difficult to relate to women genuinely. I was too obsessed with physical appearances which in themselves were becoming distorted by the kind of porn I was watching. I was becoming perverted. On the physical side I started experiencing prostate problems which caused discomfort and issues when passing urine. My sex drive was too high and this was creating a hormonal imbalance in my body.

Over the course of a few years my addiction had inflicted a lot of pain and suffering upon me; I had reached a point where I could not tolerate it any more. I knew that deep down I had the intention and ability to cure my addiction so I started to make a few notes each time I looked at internet porn. By writing a few lines of text about my experiences it allowed me time to reflect on my motivation for looking at porn and the subsequent negative feelings I had. This may sound like a chore but it is really quick and easy to do. I soon built up some useful insights that I could refer back to and because I dated each note I could see if viewing porn was becoming more frequent or less frequent.

Here are some of the insights that I made.

  • What I was viewing on screen is not reality. This may sound obvious but your mind does not know this. If you keep feeding your mind with visual fantasy again and again you are conditioning it to believe that it is part of your reality.
  • There were so many pornographic images now stored in my mind that it would replay them at will, often completely involuntarily. I was not planning and did not want to think about sex but an image would just drop into my mind. This thought had an immediate response in my body; the feeling of lust, desire and being turned on. These feelings then fed back into my mind to create more pornographic thoughts and so a feedback process was created. The momentum was then so incredibly strong that I acted out my desire and watched internet porn at the earliest opportunity.
  • Despite the intense excitement and desire I experienced whilst watching porn, the orgasm was usually unsatisfactory, it left me unfulfilled. In comparison, when I masturbated without using any pornographic material and instead used my mind to create an image or fantasy, I noticed how much more rewarding it was when I reached orgasm. Afterwards, there were no residue pornographic thoughts in my mind; I was able to get on with other activities.
  • My mind would sometimes be strategic and I would end up viewing porn indirectly. For example, I would stop myself from going directly to a pornographic website but would instead do a search in Google for some erotic term to see what images came up. It was as though my mind was hijacking my attempt to change my behaviour. The desire in my mind was winning the battle over my conscious intention. This happened for a while but eventually stopped due to my determination and focus.
  • Practising frequent and short meditations is an excellent way to create some space between thoughts. I really can’t overstate how powerful meditation is at resolving your problems. There are many simple guides on the internet if you want to learn how to meditate.

You may have noticed that I have created a separation between my mind and my awareness. It is very beneficial to become aware of what is going on inside your mind and how these thoughts motivate your actions. Always remember that the content of your mind is not truly who you are.

The process of reflecting, making notes and increasing awareness of internal processes through meditation can be used to help overcome any addiction. The more your awareness grows the weaker the negative intentions become.  Try to always be aware of what you are thinking and the effect that it has in your body.

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