Address the Real Issue in Addictions
Many men – some women – are struggling with their compulsive use of pornography and want to quit. The conventional approach to dealing with this urges them to ‘just stop’; attempts to do this often fail, leaving the person feeling dejected and hopeless. There is no real surprise this approach doesn’t work for them – it doesn’t address the real issue.
The conventional approach
The conventional approach for dealing with compulsive pornography use assumes it's a problem with the person’s thinking and behaviour, pure and simple. If this was true, to change the situation you just need to change these factors. However, when you try to merely change these parts of the problem, you don’t change what causes this problem; just how it manifests. Further, these approaches often seem to focus on guilt and shame about your behaviour to stop relapses, which just makes you feel worse – and making it more likely to turn back to using pornography to feel better.
Why is stopping so hard?
So why is it so hard to stop using porn? The first and most important thing that you need to understand is that it’s not just about sex. Heinz Kohut, a ground-breaking psychoanalyst from the 1970’s indicated that pornography was so difficult to quit because although it does involve sex satisfaction, it directly relates to an attempt to satisfy an unmet developmental need. Although the exact unmet developmental need varies from person to person, to generalise it relates to essential developmental ties to important others in the person’s life.
If these core developmental needs are not met early in life, our unconscious efforts to meet them continue into in adulthood. They continue to influence the way we feel about ourselves and others, and affect our thinking and behaviour – and just one of the ways that we attempt to meet these needs is through the use of pornography. Combine this with the need for sexual satisfaction and you have a strong ongoing need to use pornography.
Further, if you try to deal with your pornography issues merely by stopping using porn then these development needs remain unaddressed. They continue to sit in the background, unconsciously influencing you. The issue is not resolved, merely controlled.
Address the real issue
Psychotherapy offers the chance to deal with both your unmet developmental needs, as well as your desire to use pornography. By working on both at the same time, it is more likely that you will be able to finally put this aside and move on.
– Tim Hill
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.