Monday, June 05, 2006

Porn

My immediate goal is to get the porn under control. It's no wonder my mind is divided against itself with that kind of influence in the mix. Alan Medinger wrote, "...sex is one of the most intense experiences most people have, and whatever sex touches becomes more alive. Just as salt enhances the flavor of food, sex intensifies the power of any experience."

For many years now I've been "enhancing" my attraction to men by masturbating to porn. And here I'm using "porn" in the most general sense of the word: Clothed models in health magazines, underwear ads, and of course mainstream movies and TV too. They've all been subjectively pornographic to me. Unfortunately, your full flung porn is in the mix too. Given any privacy whatsoever with an internet connection, I can get porn and get away with it. The problem exploded from G rated to XXX when the Internet became my enabler. Given my history with porn, it shouldn't be a surprise that my mind has been well-conditioned to respond more immediately and completely to men than to women. I'm addicted in the clinical sense of the word--there is physiology involved, not just psychology.

I'm somewhat familiar with addiction medicine. I have several friends in the field, and porn is a formidable addiction. Porn is becoming a huge scourge on society, as Pres. Hinckley has warned. I had medical student classmates disciplined for stupidly using school computers to view and even print porn. I saw my elders' quorum president accessing it in the library once. I know relatives who have problems with it (again, the computer skills), and I'm appalled at the pervasive influence porn has achieved. It's the Turkish Delight of the real world (without Narnia's magic). With a taste you will do just about anything to get more. And in our society it's practically impossible not to get a taste.

Now that I'm trying to achieve greater intimacy with my wife, porn is a greater enemy than ever. I sometimes wonder if the poor results of reparative therapy are attributable largely to porn. It makes sense to me that once some of the developmental issues have been addressed that contributed to homosexuality, the neurological pathways that resulted from them will still remain. Changing neurological pathways is no overnight endeavor, but that's the goal if you're trying to change orientation. You have to wait for certain pathways to grow and others to atrophy from idleness. And that atrophy can never be achieved if the pathways keep firing off every few days. And if I turn to porn when I'm troubled, they will fire off with regularity. And that's what I'm afraid is happening to me more often than I would like.

I'm in way over my head and I'm still working through it all. It will be an uphill battle to overcome, just as I've been warned it would be. I can remember the endless "standards nights," the Sunday School lessons, the firesides, and the youth pamphlets. They all taught that choosing obedience to God's commandments brings freedom while disobedience limits freedom. Or, specifically in my case, indulging in porn has decreased freedom by creating chemical and neurological chains. There are real consequences. And they suck.

Boy I'm stupid. I really could have avoided a lot of troubles by not sampling porn and getting myself addicted. Now, as I've said before, my desires have changed. I want something different than what I want to want.

9 comments:

Samantha said...

I hate to spout rhetoric, but if porn really is your addiction, your chances of "quitting" without help are fairly slim. I'm currently attending a "12-step" program put out by LDS Social Services (addiction recover program) which focuses on Christ's Atonement as a means to recovery. If you go to LDS.org, there's a link to it on the left hand side of the page, so you can check it out and see if it's anything of interest to you.

Believe me, I know what you're talking about in this entry. Interesting musings which linked failed reparative therapy to porn addiction.

Kim Mack said...

Wow, L. Thanks. This is written so well, and so real, I may have my boys read it. It's a good warning that people trying to do right can get caught so easily.

Keep plugging away, and Samantha's right about getting help. It's possible to beat on your own, but slim chances. Best to get help.

Another Other said...

L, your last couple of entries have been gritty and real and moving. I can completely relate. Very honest. You are bound to succeed with such internal clarity and with such incisive insight into your own personal foibles (which happen to parallel my own and I suspect those of many). That porn is a serious inhibitor to reparative therapy is something I suspect as well, and I wish you luck as you battle. Thanks for your insights and honesty.

Dave Walter said...

Or, specifically in my case, indulging in porn has decreased freedom by creating chemical and neurological chains.

I wonder if that's really the case. If you were having sex with guys, it might be that the porn indulgence would diminish, meaning that no chemical and neurological changes took place. I realize that this isn't a supposition that is likely to be tested in your case.

I've never had a gay friend or acquaintance who was addicted to porn. I've also never had a gay friend or acquaintance who swore off porn. For all of them, and me, porn is like ice cream -- something to be enjoyed occasionally, without guilt.

I guess I need to add that all of my gay friends and acquaintances had/have already been through the "struggling" phase and were/are entirely at ease with their gayness.

Another Other said...

Dave, you can't know if you're addicted to porn unless you try to stop looking at porn. I would bet my bottom dollar that you, nor any one of those friends, could stop looking at porn if you wanted to. (This reminds me of the classic Senifeld episode where they make a bet to see who can not masturbate for the longest... ha.)

I had a very close friend who ended up deciding to have sex with men, and he functioned under the same assumption that you mention: that because he's doing the real thing, the desire for porn would diminish. However, (and I realize this is only one case and is totally anecdotal) his porn addiction became worse, much to his surprise. He was actively trying to stop looking at porn (for reasons other than religious dogma), and he couldn't, and it worsened once he started having sex with men. The only reason he could guage that is that he was actively trying to stop the whole time. My guess is that this is common, but that it's hard to prove because so few guys who are having sex with men would be trying to not look at porn...

Dave Walter said...

I think the ice cream analogy holds. I could stop looking at porn as easily as I could stop eating ice cream. I could also stop drinking alcohol as easily, even though I have a couple of drinks every day, but only infrequently eat ice cream or look at porn.

Some people may be addicted to porn because they have addicitive personalities. However, I believe it's conceivable that many struggling gay Mormons, in particular, become addicted to porn because of a combination of factors associated with their LDS upbringing. I don't remember seeing comments from gay former Mormons about porn addiction. It would be interesting to hear from them.

Another Other said...

All I'm saying is it's one thing (and a very common thing for addicts, incidentally) to say "I can stop any time I want..." But it's another thing entirely to actually do it. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

-L- said...

Like Mark Twain's quip about quitting smoking: "I can quit any time I want. I've done it thousands of times." ;-)

Rusty said...

I'm not gay/same-sex attracted, but I am married and a recovering pornography addict (2 years sober). Have you visited over at ldsr.org? Feel free to swing by. I think you could identify a lot with the site owner.