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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sexual Addiction: Is a Compulsion for Viewing Internet Porn Ruining Your Marriage?

With the advent of the Internet, there has been an explosion of information and added convenience that we could never have imagined before. It's hard to imagine, for those of us who are old enough to remember having to go to a hard copy encyclopedia for information, what it was like before. We now have the added convenience of finding just about anything we want on the Internet: a romantic partner, online banking, shopping, even a psychotherapist. Along with all of these wonderful conveniences has also come Internet pornography, which is a multi billion dollar industry. 
Sexual Addiction: Is a Compulsion for Viewing Internet Porn Ruining Your Marriage?
Unfortunately, many people, who would never have spent much time looking at pornography before the Internet, are getting easily caught up in compulsive viewing of Internet porn. For many people this compulsion has turned into a sexual addiction that is ruining their lives as well as their relationships.

Sexual Addiction Can Affect Anyone
Much like alcoholism, drug addiction and gambling, sexual addiction cuts across age, race, gender, ethnicity, economic status, and sexual orientation. It's an "equal opportunity" addiction that often gets worse over time without help. As the addiction becomes worse, the person often spends more and more time on the computer looking at pornography and less time paying attention to his or her spouse. The more pornography they view, the more they want to see, which leads to a downward spiral for the person addicted to porn and the spouse.

Sexual Addiction Can Affect Anyone

I've worked with many clients who come to get help, usually, after their spouses have discovered their preoccupation with Internet porn. For many of these individuals, what started as a pass time that they engaged in within the privacy of their home worsened into clandestine visits to prostitutes, extramarital sexual affairs or other risky, secret sexual behavior. Over time, it takes more exciting and risky sexual behavior to excite them as the addiction spirals out of control.

Leading a Secret Life
Soon, many of these people are leading secret lives and they begin to hardly recognize themselves. Their lives begin to revolve around their sexual addiction. Whereas before they might have only spent minutes looking at Internet porn, now they're spending hours. When they're not actually looking at Internet porn, they're eagerly anticipating the moment when they can get on the computer or look at porn on their Smart phone.

Sexual Addiction: Leading a Secret Life and Hardly Recognizing Yourself

Sexual Addiction and Shame
For many people, who try and fail to stop on their own, this brings overwhelming shame, guilt, and frustration. The vast majority of them don't want to lose their spouses and families, but they can't find a way out of the cycle of addiction. They know their lives are out of control, whether their spouses know about the sexual addiction or not, but they don't see a way out.

Sexual Addiction and Shame

Getting Out of the Cycle of Addiction
So, if you're caught up in this cycle of addiction, how do you get out? Well, the first step is to be aware and to admit that you have a problem. Denial can be a strong defense against getting help, so it often takes a lot to admit this to yourself, let alone to anyone else. Next, recognize that you're not alone. There are many people, just like you, who are struggling with this problem. There are also many people who have gotten help for their sexual addiction and who remain abstinent.

12 Step Meetings
12 Step meetings like SCA (Sexual Compulsives Anonymous) ans SAA (Sexual Addiction Anonymous) provide safe and effective tools for breaking the sexual addiction cycle in an anonymous setting. The fellowship in the meetings is usually very supportive, and you'll discover how many people, just like you, are challenged by sexual addiction, You'll also discover that there's hope for you to overcome this problem as you listen to others who have evolved through the program. An experienced sponsor can also help you work through the basic principles of the 12 Steps, which will provide the tools to help you to regain control of your life and, possibly, save your relationship.

Getting Help
Many people who are struggling with addiction to Internet porn, and other forms of sexual addiction, also find it very helpful to seek therapy with a licensed psychotherapist who has experience helping people overcome the cycle of sexual addiction. Taking the first step in your recovery is up to you. Although it's challenging to admit you have a problem and seek help, the potential rewards of getting your life back again and saving your relationship often outweighs the challenges.

Save Your Marriage
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, who works with individuals and couples. I have helped many people who were caught in the sexual addiction cycle to live fulfilling lives and no longer feel trapped by their addiction.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

Resources:

For a related topic, read my article:
Overcoming Internet and Porn Addiction 


Self Help Books
I also recommend books by Patrick Carnes, who is a sexual addiction expert, especially:
In the Shadows of the Net - Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior

12 Step Meetings:
Sexual Addicts Anonymous

Sexual Compulsives Anonymous

Photo Credits:  Photo Pin