The Porn Addiction “Fix” Illusion

Almost every time I am working with a client who has a porn addiction or who is dealing with a compulsive pornography problem, they contend with an illusion. There is a belief that if they stop viewing pornography, then they will start to feel better about themselves. However, it rarely works out this way. When these clients give up and view porn again. They feel bad about themselves and they point to porn as the reason that they feel this way.

Porn or the absence of viewing it doesn’t dictate how you feel about yourself. There is more work to do than this, whether it’s in therapy or not. In other words, in order to make a change, you have to focus on something deeper than the behavior itself. There are underlying reasons why behaviors get out of control and that is what you need to focus on. 

I’m not saying that people can’t establish goals for themselves around pornogarphy. People get to decide what they want and how they want to express their own sexuality. At the same time, I’ve rarely seen people feel better about themselves simply because they give up watching porn. There’s a simple explanation for that. Those negative beliefs about themselves probably started way before that person ever started watching porn.

I push clients to identify a couple of things. First, what are the origins of the negative beliefs about yourself? When people learn where these things came from, they can better learn how to manage them, rather than place all of the emphasis of self-worth on a particular behavior.

Secondly, I ask clients what they want. Sometimes, people are utilizing porn to fill in gaps about sex education or to find a place for fantasy about desires they don’t want to communicate. Obviously, it’s best to learn about these things. However, some people believe that if they simply stop watching porn, the issues that led to the problem will just evaporate. 

Managing Behavior that Is Out-of-Control Matters

It’s important that we find balance in our lives. We have to find time for several things that are important to us. However, it’s also important to recognize that controlling behavior doesn’t get to the core of what usually makes it a problem to begin with. It’s important to have a strong sense of who you are and what you want your life to be. Without this awareness, you’re not likely to make long lasting changes. Without those changes you’re likely to need to numb, and I’m sure you can see where this is going. If you need to numb, you’re at an increased risk of using out of control behavior to numb. 

So it’s important to dig deeper and learn about yourself and recognize that simply stopping viewing porn rare works on its own. In fact, by focusing only on the behavior, you’re more likely to set yourself up for a failure cycle that reinforces negative beliefs about yourself. 


If you’re in the Dallas area and looking for a therapist who specializes in porn and sex addictions, please feel free to contact us