347-348: Challenging the “Addiction” Paradigm with Regard to Pornography

Porn buttonThe past two weeks featured two opposing Op-Eds in the Salt Lake Tribune (here and here) focusing on the issue of pornography, and especially if an “addiction” model (“pornography is highly addicting”) is appropriate to be taught in high school settings. The impetus for the initial opinion piece was the propriety of allowing the group “Fight the New Drug” (FTND) to offer presentations in public school assemblies or other gathering types, especially since the science behind the claims FTND makes about pornography as “addicting” is not credible (at least that is the claim of the writers). Leaders of FTND and others who work with clients under the “pornography addiction” model and the therapies it suggests wrote a response challenging the claims made in the first Op-ed, linking to studies they say supports all the arguments they make or that challenge studies that underlie the thinking of those who oppose the “addiction” model. It is a fascinating back-and-forth that highlights a major division within helping communities with regard to the effects of pornography upon the human brain and body, and the best approach(es) to take when someone comes to a therapist for help with a level of pornography usage they feel is is problematic.

In this two-part episode, two of the authors of the first Op-ed, Natasha Helfer Parker and Kristin Hodson (both Mormon and certified sex therapists), along with neuroscientist and sex researcher Dr. Nicole Prause and counselor and sex therapist Jay Blevins (who are both non-LDS), join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a wide-ranging discussion of the research surrounding the effects of pornography and if it shows the markers typically associated with “addiction,” and why this group feels the model fails—not only scientifically but with the therapies that arise out of this framing doing more harm than good. The host and panel discuss the influence of religious framings on both therapists and clients that are likely very much at play in preferring the “addiction” model, what other factors might be at play in continuing to use this language and claims about pornography usage, the propriety of it being presented in schools that allow no teachings whatsoever about sexuality within the curriculum yet still allow scare-inducing warnings against pornography (which, in itself, seems incomprehensible apart from understanding healthy sexuality first), along with various other models for assisting those who self-report as pornography or sex “addicts”—and why they feel these other framings and therapies yield better results. Plus so much more!

In coming weeks, as Mormon Matters can gather a panel of persons supporting the addiction model and treatment programs that employ that framing, we look forward to letting them present their reasons for preferring it, and to challenge anything offered in this episode.

Please listen and then share your responses and experiences in the comments section below!

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AASECT Position Statement on Sex Addition (released 29 November 2016)

Founded in 1967, the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) is devoted to the promotion of sexual health by the development and advancement of the fields of sexual education, counseling and therapy. With this mission, AASECT accepts the responsibility of training, certifying and advancing high standards in the practice of sexuality education services, counseling and therapy. When contentious topics and cultural conflicts impede sexual education and health care, AASECT may publish position statements to clarify standards to protect consumer sexual health and sexual rights.

AASECT recognizes that people may experience significant physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual health consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors. AASECT recommends that its members utilize models that do not unduly pathologize consensual sexual problems. AASECT 1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge. Therefore, it is the position of AASECT that linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.

AASECT advocates for a collaborative movement to establish standards of care supported by science, public health consensus and the rigorous protection of sexual rights for consumers seeking treatment for problems related to consensual sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors.

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Links:

Op-Ed: “Utah Students Need Real Sex-Ed, not ‘Fight the New Drug’,” Salt Lake Tribune, 1 October 2016

Op-Ed: “Utah Students Need Real Sex-Ed and ‘Fight the New Drug’,” Salt Lake Tribune, 8 October 201

Prause, N., Steele, V. R., Staley, C., Sabatinelli, D., & Proudfit, G. H. (2015). Modulation of late positive potentials by sexual images in problem users and controls inconsistent with “porn addiction.” Biological Psychology, 109, 192–199. 

* The largest neuroscience study of cue-reactivity EEG, often called the “biomarker” of addiction, shows sex films do not behave like any known substance or behavioral addiction

Prause, N., Steele, V. R., Staley, C., Sabatinelli, D., & Hajcak, G. (2016). Prause et al.(2015) the latest falsification of addiction predictions. Biological Psychology.

* The most succinct publication describing the many predictions, not just neuroscience, of the addiction model that have been falsified.

Balzarini, R. N., Dobson, K., Chin, K., & Campbell, L. Does exposure to erotica reduce attraction and love for romantic partners in men? Independent replications of Kenrick, Gutierres, and Goldberg (1989) study 2. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2016.11.003

*The largest study to date on the effects of sex films on relationships finding they either increase desire and love for the partner or do not change it.

Klein, M. (2016). His Porn, Her Pain: Confronting America’s PornPanic with Honest Talk About Sex. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

* Building on decades of psychotherapy practice, the text reviews how sex films are often demonized to avoid addressing real, and more challenging, problems in relationships. Appropriate for lay audience, but also helpful for clinicians with case examples.

Natasha Helfer Parker, Mormon Sex Info website

Kristin Hodson’s therapy practice website: The Healing Group

Kristin Hodson, et al, Real Intimacy: A Couple’s Guide to Healthy, Genuine Sexuality (Cedar Fort, 2012)

“Sex-Positivity in Mormonism,” Mormon Matters podcast episode, Nos. 314-315. December 17, 2015.

Dallin H. Oaks, “Recovering from the Trap of Pornography,” Ensign, Ocober 2015

AASECT: American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists website

Comments

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35 comments for “347-348: Challenging the “Addiction” Paradigm with Regard to Pornography

  1. So Bummed
    October 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I am a long time listener and fan and progressive Mormon, but these two episodes were such a disappointment. I was disappointed that all guests were of the consensus that pornography can’t be an addiction and had no guests with opposing viewpoints. Dan did say he would have another episode where hopefully some Certified Sex Addiction Therapists were the guests so I hope that happens. Maybe Kevin Skinner or someone from Addo Recovery? or Adam Moore, Dorothy Maryon or even philanthropist Pamela Atkinson who gave the keynote at this year’s UCAP conference? Although, after hearing this episode I doubt anyone would want to come on now because as the guests said, those therapists work from a rigid, religious, asexual, shaming model. So right off the bat they have been labeled.

    I thought it might be interesting to hear the viewpoint, even science, behind the not-an-addiction model but when the guests made these two points, I lost all respect for them: First, that there are some benefits to watching erotica. I am so shocked and saddened that two women would stand for such an argument when the porn industry is known for horrific work conditions and drug abuse and given the strong link between the porn industry and sex trafficking. There is no such thing as ethical porn so exactly who is being benefited by watching erotica? Watching these movies leads to objectification of women so how could two female guests argue its benefits?

    Secondly, that 12 step groups and therapy for “addiction” lead to more harm than good because they emphasize shame, among other problems. I would argue the opposite, that specialized therapy and 12 step groups are the antidote to shame. At least that has been my very personal experience. I think the LDS ARP meetings, or Sexaholics Anonymous, or Healing through Christ are what I wish church was really like. Real people talking about real problems. No facade of perfection, just male and/or yes female “addicts” trying to help one another.

    Dan, I love you brother and love your podcast, you have helped me tremendously, but this was just heartbreaking. I think I’ll feel better by going to Fight the New Drug and making a substantial donation now that I know the mental health industry is truly against them and the amazing work they do. Call it an addiction, a terrible hobby, or an unhealthy way to cope, I don’t care. Porn is not good for children. FTND needs all the support they can get. Their science points one way, your guests pointed another, who am I supposed to believe? I’ll believe those who fight against porn, every time. It almost ruined my life.

    • ginny
      October 14, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      I feel exactly the same way. They said things that were absolutely untrue. These therapists suggesting that a little porn and masturbation is not a problem, and should not be discouraged. Also suggesting that these programs are not set up to help female addicts, UNTRUE!! And that these programs use shame to discourage porn usage, which is untrue. Shame is fought very hard, but fought through authenticity and truly turning one’s life around, not just telling them to go ahead and keep doing what they feel ashamed about and try not to feel ashamed. This was truly disappointing. NOT one of these speakers highlighted anecdotal stories, real life examples of their “science.” Because in real life, whether the person is addicted or not, the 12 steps still help them come out of the fog of using other people for their pleasure, and start giving back to this world. Real examples and experience are proving FTND right. Maybe they are too hasty to call it addiction for everyone, maybe not everyone is really addicted, but if they are, they need help, not to be told they are ok, when clearly, they are not. This disease is just too common. That is the problem with all their “science.” Their is not a large enough control group of non-porn watchers for them to get a really good double blind study. But I have seen my spouse’s whole personality change, our marital discord improve by leaps and bounds, his blaming and shaming and selfishness diminish and even somewhat disappear as he gave up porn. All his behaviors mimicked those of alcoholics and other addicts. My father as well, had addict behaviors as a result of porn. I hate that she said, “wives are shaming their husbands for using porn or masturbating…” Some wives maybe are, but only as a result of hurt. Addiction recovery does not encourage shame or using shame at all. It BLAMES shame for the addiction, and advises each person to confront their demons, including wives, and rid themselves of shame and shaming others. This was very upsetting, this whole audio. And I cannot believe they encourage people to casually masturbate and watch porn as couples when the church forbids it outright. These are not Mormon beliefs or values. These women do not belong on this website.

      • Dan Wotherspoon
        October 14, 2016 at 10:09 pm

        Thank you, Ginny. It is great to hear from you.

        Much of what I’d respond to you I put in my reply to So Bummed, but let me add this about your statements about the church’s attitudes toward masturbation. I have a wide circle of friends, many directly connected to the church’s decision making bodies, and they report some big shifts being made (and more in the offing) in relation to masturbation (and specifically bishops, and stake and mission presidents pressing to hear about a youth’s or missionary’s practices). They are coming to understand the shame-cycle, the over-emphasis on it as a definite contributor to compulsive behavior, etc. In short, I believe it will be carefully shared with church leaders who are in these roles that this should not be a focus, that youth should not be put on probation for this, etc. From me, this is third-hand stuff for you, one-step from source for me. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds within our Mormon world. I believe it will be much like the shift that has been going on lately that discourages interpreting pre-marital sex as the “sin next to murder” when, of course, the scripture is talking about Corianton’s example leading to potential converts not being willing to even listen to the missionaries’ messages (thus his sin was similar to what Alma, only a few chapters earlier, said about how he and the sons of Mosiah “had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction” Alma 36:14), how speaking of an equivalence of “virginity” and “virtue” is weakening, etc. Healthier framings are winning their way into the church and community. My sense is as you pay attention to the messaging that will continue to unfold, you will find less and less reason to view these issues about masturbation and fear to address youth better in understanding their sexuality in such black and white ways as you express here.

        Thank you, again, for joining in the discussion!

        • So Bummed
          October 15, 2016 at 10:08 am

          Dan I do agree that masturbation questions can be framed to shame youth. As can a multitude of other questions for our youth. We swim in shame at church. It’s not that masturbation is evil, it’s that the reasons why one does it are problematic. It is used as a coping mechanism–let’s avoid feeling our real feelings and self soothe. I am sure that at first it starts out as curiosity about one’s body. But then it becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism. If ya need to self soothe by masturbating 2-3 times a day, well before you know it, you have no real coping strategies for dealing with “bad days”. So that is how I have framed the conversation with my three teenagers. I have taught them that masturbating will make them feel good in the short run but in the long run it does nothing to end the real problems of acceptance, anger, frustration, low self esteem, etc. Problems are fixed by tackling them head on, not by escaping them through fantasizing/lusting about another person all while touching yourself.

      • Icon'sMom
        October 15, 2016 at 2:39 pm

        Ginny, Even if you find it unnerving or yucky, sexuality is organic and at the very core of who we are and is not a disease, by definition, even if out of control.

        I work in substance abuse, which has long been labeled as a disease due to the way it changes brain chemistry. Masturbation does not cause this same change in brain chemistry.

        If we call it a disease, as with a true substance addiction, Need to use the disease model to treat it: complete and total abstinence.

        Outside of that, the reason using “addiction” in conjunction with sexual behavior isn’t a good idea (outside of a lack of good science to back it up), is because it labels a person’s sexuality, an organic part of who they are. Also, telling someone they have an addiction for out-of-control sexual behavior is used as an excuse for behavior that can be modified much easier than with an actual chemical addiction such as to opiates or alcohol.

        Not to mention that there are no withdrawals from out of control sexual behavior, nobody signing their children away, and certainly nobody is dying such as from alcohol withdrawals.

        It’s very easy to blame the sexual behavior and try to exorcise it, rather than get to the root/finding the underlying issue, and dealing with that.

        Underlying issues are often anxiety/depression, anxiety about sex in the relationship (it’s easier to masturbate to porn than deal with the fact that I don’t know how to turn on my wife because I’ve never learned about women’s bodies, and can’t find any materials I’m comfortable with that will help me—and I’m the man, aren’t I supposed to be the sexual expert?). And these are just a few.

        • Icon'sMom
          October 15, 2016 at 2:40 pm

          I want to add that I was referring to porn/masturbation as being “yucky” to you, Ginny, not sexuality in general.

      • October 16, 2016 at 2:17 pm

        Ginny – First, I don’t disagree with you that these are not Mormon values. Mormons get to determine their own values. The issue is that values don’t have to based on fact. Also, personal experience, while important and valid, also does not necessarily correlate with fact.

        I’ll point out that Galileo wast charged, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to prison by the Catholic church for saying that the earth is not the center of the universe. I support their right to have that value. And, that value is not based on reality. There were religions as late as the 1920’s or 30’s publishing material saying that the earth is the center of the universe. So, it is possible for you to have values that don’t match with fact and reality.

        It is also true that reality sometimes doesn’t match perception. I agree that it APPEARS that the sun revolves around the earth – that is my perception. My perception tells me that the world is flat. Neither of those is true. So, while we can talk about our experiences, our interpretation of them isn’t necessarily factual.

        In regards to shame – first. You are correct. Not everyone, every wife, every therapist, every whatever shames. I find the “not everyone does” defense to be not very useful. I think we are all intelligent to know that when it comes to people’s behaviors, there are always exceptions, differences, etc. However, telling someone that we assume they are skilled liars who’s core goal is to lie is shaming. Telling someone they are a bad, evil, or horrible person is shaming. And, you are correct, partner’s behaviors are often based in anger and hurt. That doesn’t make their actions okay.

        The addiction model treats things like a disease. Let me ask you this. If your partner came to you and said, “I need to tell you, I’ve had cancer for 3 years and haven’t told you.” What would your reaction be to tell them that they are bad, they hurt you, they betrayed you, or, would you show compassion that they have this terrible disease? What if the same thing happened except it was “I have this disease that makes me watch porn.” Would you go to compassion or would you be angry, hurt, betrayed and let them know? My experience says most people to respond to what they believe is porn addiction in critical, hurtful, in other words, shaming ways.

        There is too much shame around this issue and you have demonstrated by your critical remark of “these women do not belong on this website.” They are brave, intelligent women who are trying to raise important and difficult issues and use science and fact to consider them. You support my point about religion having moved from one of love, compassion, caring, and forgiveness to one of pointing fingers, blaming, shaming, and condemning. I feel bad for you if your religious beliefs don’t have room to allow asking questions and discussing information that may conflict with church doctrine. What confuses me is why, if you find church doctrine to be definitive and above question, you are bothering to listen to things like this in the first place.

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      October 14, 2016 at 9:48 pm

      So Bummed, thanks for joining in the conversation here. I am looking forward to engaging with FTND supporters or addiction-model therapists, and I hope that the body of my work reveals enough to encourage them that they’ll get a fair hearing. I am working to get a panel together. A reminder, too, that we did have a compelling story on the show that featured Coby and Ashlynn Mitchell, who worked with ADDO, and who were greatly aided through their experiences there. I waited six months before bringing on this panel holding a different view, or in any way trying to challenge the Mitchell’s story. For me, this was about “what does the science actually say?” rather than saying every addiction-model therapist heaps on shame, etc. My friends who have been missionaries in the LDS Church’s Addiction and Recovery Program (ARP) that uses this model have shared with me many, many positive stories about how it is in these settings they have felt “grace” doing its healing work more strongly than in any LDS-related setting they’ve ever participated in.

      One lacuna you mentioned here was the harm done to persons in the porn and sex industries. In our recording session, we talked about it for just a few minutes but as a group decided we’d discuss that topic in the future as its own show. I now regret cutting those few minutes out, as they would have shown our concerns for this topic.

      Finally, I am glad I spent so much time in the early going talking about the influence of religious worldviews on why someone (either therapist or client) favor the “addiction” model, as my sense is there is more to that choice than what the actual studies justify, the ones appearing in credible journals, and the ones where topic experts discuss what the findings do or do not show. (And several times your response here relied upon religious arguments/feelings/sense of propriety than it did scientific studies. Maybe evidence will accrue that justifies the addiction framing, and in that case Dr. Prause says she’d be open to a paradigm shift. She’ll go with the science. For her and the other panelists here (who have thoroughly studied human sexuality in all its forms and manifestations, who have been certified by an organization that strives very hard to be thorough and ethical) though, this model, applied to pornography, fails the tests of being informed within the whole range of human sexuality. Right now, I lean in their direction. I hope those who feel differently will agree to come on with me, and then, as proponents of the different models agree, will come on together and talk directly to each other.

      Thanks, again, for joining in the conversation!

      • So Bummed
        October 15, 2016 at 10:32 am

        Thanks Dan for your reply, it means a lot to me that you’d take the time. I thought you were very fair in the podcast, it was the panelists that seemed to heap on the labels to those who ‘buy’ the addiction model. And the only examples they cited of what an “addict” looks like were pretty extreme examples– a young man who has masturbated twice or someone who watches porn twice a year. I wish they had brought up more real-life examples, like my husband who lied to me from day one of our marriage about his constant porn/masturbation. I always knew something was ‘off’ in my marriage but could never figure out what until the year i turned 40 and I realized he had been lying to me for 20 years straight. In many ways that led to a faith crisis for me, which led me to your podcast, which has been nothing but beneficial. I thank you for that. The addiction model doesn’t resonate with me for my husband, which is why I was intrigued by the topic, but was disappointed for the reasons I have already mentioned.

        • Icon'sMom
          October 15, 2016 at 2:16 pm

          @SoBummed:

          I’m sorry for what happened to you with regards to your husband. Nothing ruins trust like 20 years of lying.

          I have not yet listened to the podcast but did want to throw this out there:

          It has been fairly well-documented that the addiction model with regards to pornography and it being accepted by more religious-leaning people has been established. I’m assuming only by your comment, though, I want to emphasize that.

          I’ve found that love and acceptance goes a long way with many people and their fears around pornography and masturbation. Shame does nothing, yet appears to be a popular method used in religion to control people. My take on it, of course.

          I hope you have since found healing in your marriage.

        • October 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm

          So Bummed – Those examples were exactly that – examples of how the “addiction” label is being thrown around so easily. They were in no way attempting to say that there aren’t many, many instances of people using sex and/or porn in unhealthy, unproductive, extreme ways and with incredible frequency. To dismiss the entirety of what we said based on two examples designed to show ONE of our issues with how the label is being misused would be unfair.

          I am very sorry about the issues with your husband and I am happy that you see the issue is something other than addiction. What I find interesting is that much of your perspective agrees with much of what we said. At other places you make definitive statements and disregard that there is research which is contradictory. Is it possible that this is a complex issue where sometimes things, like porn, are clearly harmful and other times helpful? There is a lot of research about how certain foods can be harmful yet we don’t condemn food entirely.

          Despite conventional wisdom do you know there is research that shows that shows when porn use goes up, sexual violence declines? Or, that porn users have more egalitarian views towards women? There is a significant evidence that porn can be helpful to both individuals (in and out of relationships) and for society.

  2. KarlS
    October 15, 2016 at 12:33 am

    This was a most interesting podcast! Thanks, Dan! I love to learn new things, even when they push at my paradigms. Darn, though I found the dismissive, condescending style of Dr. Prause more than irritating. Also, it sounded like the speakers themselves took some time to come around before they “saw” the paradigm and model they now espouse, yet they showed little patience or acceptance of those who are in the place they were just a few years ago. What I was waiting to hear throughout both episodes was some definitive statements that pornography use can be a real problem. I assumed, but wasn’t really sure if they even felt pornography was a significant issue or not. I was also expecting some type of convincing argument against the addiction model, but it never showed up. The main thing they hammered on was that the addiction models pushed shame and guilt. I have experience helping others using the LDS addiction model 12 steps and have been to their meetings and I didn’t feel that guilt and shame were pushed there. So, I reviewed the LDS 12 steps manual again and I can see how the material could cause someone to feel shame and guilt as they are admonished to take a “moral inventory” of themselves (Step 4), confess (Step 5) and work to have their “imperfections removed” (Step 6), etc. But, in LDS teachings pornography use is a sin and the above steps are warranted like for any other transgression. I don’t think these concepts are invalid, but in reading the manual again, it does come across of being kind of a downer. I guess the wording in the manual and the teaching in the meetings would need to carefully deal with these issues so as not to cause debilitating self-loathing. So, in conclusion, I don’t think the manual is what is really appropriate unless someone is really addicted (if that is possible), or has a problem that is addiction-like. In my non-professional opinion it appears that the manual could have at least two areas given much more treatment: extolling how much God loves and accepts the individual just the way they are, and a more holistic treatment of potential underlying causes and triggers for the pornographic viewing behavior. I found nothing in the manual that extolled the love of God for the individual, regardless of their actions (a brief ancillary statement in Step 8 is of no help). As the manual progressed it seemed to give the message that you are broken throughout all the steps, but with God’s help and your effort, together you can become acceptable to the Lord again. Nothing was discussed about underlying causes of the behavior, so the model is hacking at the branches rather than the roots. Yet, there are many, many elements in the manual that are so valuable and helpful. I just wish the experts on each side of the addiction debate could more respectfully disagree and then seek to learn from each other rather than spending most of their energies defending their positions. Thanks again Dan for bringing important disparate views to the forum!

  3. Ben H
    October 15, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    There was an important article on pornography by Elder Oaks in the October 2015 Ensign which moves away from the addiction-only model. Here is an excerpt:

    “…past experience and current circumstances have shown the need for counsel addressed to levels of pornography use between the polar extremes of avoidance and addiction. It is helpful to focus on four different levels of involvement with pornography: (1) inadvertent exposure, (2) occasional use, (3) intensive use, and (4) compulsive use (addiction).”

    This article was also printed in the New Era, and there was another companion article in the Ensign. The message I got was that this is the Church’s current position on this subject, and is meant to supersede previous articles and conference talks which discussed pornography only in terms of addiction. It also seemed that there must have been feedback from therapists that lead to this shift. I have been able to successfully use this article in church to push back against the fear-based, shaming, addiction-only model. I think it’s a great move in the right direction to give youth and others better tools in dealing with pornography.

  4. David
    October 17, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Dan,

    Would it be possible to get Laura M. Brotherson on the podcast?

    https://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/product/knowing-her-intimately-mermag2016/?ref=1

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      October 18, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      David, I don’t know this book or her work. Do you know if she views pornography issues as best seen and addressed through an “addiction” model?

      Dan

      • David
        October 20, 2016 at 7:22 am

        I can’t say, I know she has another book called and they were not afraid which mainly addresses the issue of the Good Girl Syndrome where women fear having sex and not acknowledging that it is a gift from God.

        Overall, she is pro-healthy sexuality… and that includes avoiding lust and focusing on love & intimacy.

      • Tammy Ellis
        October 23, 2016 at 6:47 pm

        Dan, Laura Brotherson is trying to help people feel comfortable with masturbation by essentially telling them it’s self-education. And she’s right in many ways. I believe (but cannot confirm), it is void of teaching masturbation for pleasure or release, but it’s a small step in a healthier direction.

  5. Alice
    October 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    I am really interested in the idea of using compulsivity type therapies with problematic porn use. I have been talking to a friend who is really involved with Fight the New Drug. He has been frustrated by the pushback in the Tribune articles, but is interested in dialogue. Thanks for all the things to think about in these podcasts!

    • Tammy Ellis
      October 23, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      If you are speaking of compulsivity type therapies as in OCD, reward behaviors do not fit the OCD criteria. Another reason addiction labeling is incorrect because addiction uses the disease model to treat it. Sex of any kind is no a disease, and it does not work with the requirement of abstinence, which is part of the disease model in addiction treatment.

  6. Alice
    October 17, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I’m also wondering what any of the participants on this podcast think about Dan Oakes’ addiction as an attachment disorder framework. I think it can be useful without the addiction model with problematic pornography use.

    I’ve had clients who consider themselves porn or sex addicts- and who have personal values that are in conflict with their current use, so normalizing porn use to the extent that they feel okay about their current level of behaviors isn’t really going to work for them, but it seems like the attachment model might be a good fit there.

  7. Terri
    October 18, 2016 at 11:36 am

    This is an extremely important topic within the church and in our society in general. I appreciated the guests and the thoughtful and experienced approach with which they treat this topic. I have a close acquaintance who has self-identified as having a “porn addiction.” The amount of shame that this person has had to process is untenable. This individual does not agree with me and feels the shame-based rhetoric is justified.It is not, in my opinion. The shame based rhetoric does an equal amount, if not more, damage to a person’s psyche than looking at porn. If someone views porn, it is not an addiction. This rhetoric is harmful and not supported by data.

    The main reason I wanted to make a comment is that I cannot believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which I belong and have dedicated my time, my money and a great portion of my life, allows this group called LIfe Changing Services to use the name “Sons of Helaman” and “Sons of Mosiah.” Why does my church allow this? I do not believe that these organizations represent the Sons of Helaman spoken about in the Book of Mormon -which is SCRIPTURE. I’m certainly not an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, but if I were, I would absoluttely not allow any group – MUCH LESS A GROUP OF THIS NATURE – to use this name. It is absolutely unacceptable that they are representing the church in this manner. Is the church condoning this? Are they ok with this group using this name – because calling this group the Sons of Helaman gives appearance that the brethren support and condone this group’s teachings, techniques, and behaviors. Does the Church, the brethren, the apostles of the Lord who are supposed to be guiding us, condone these techniques? Because it certainly appears that they do by allowing this group to call themselves the Sons of Helaman and to put themselves out there in the public arena using names taken directly from our scriptures.

    • Dan Wotherspoon
      October 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Terri,

      Thanks for sharing. Agree this is a very important issue, and when shame is attached it is something that truly does negatively affect people’s lives–sometimes severely.

      I had never heard of Sons of Helaman before recording this episode. Their site is indeed scary to me. I see references there to bishops turning to them and helping pay for treatment for certain youth through fast offering funds, which is upsetting. I really don’t know, however, if or how aware general-level church leaders are.

      Does anyone else know? Or know of efforts to educate leaders on the pitfalls that are present in an approach like theirs?

  8. Shame/Forgiveness?
    October 19, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I love the idea that the fundament goal is to help people who have unwanted sexual activity—pornography/sexually explicit material use, masturbation, sexual expression that goes against one’s values, infidelity, etc. I also really resonate with the idea that one area that could be improved and that could alleviate a lot of problems is how Mormons talk about sexuality. Clearly fear and shame are very dangerous and toxic. Using fear and shame to overcome unwanted behavior, for me, is trying to use the devil’s tools to do God’s work.
    Clearly there are several problems with the addiction model, so here is my question. What about repentance? The reason I ask that is because Natasha puts forward the idea that one problem could be that we are labeling some unwanted sexual activity as sinful when it is actually perfectly normal and even healthy. (There is an interesting blogpost that responds to Natasha’s idea, and it would be interesting to hear her response: http://www.modernmormonmen.com/2012/11/guest-post-dear-natasha-helfer-parker.html). I can see the value of removing the stigma of sin associated with some generally unwanted sexual activities. This can remove the fear and shame. But what about this—when you remove the notion of sin, you also remove Christ. Christ and the Atonement have no power or place in this aspect of your life. In contrast, if you do say that this activity goes against your values and the idea of having sexual expression always linked to interpersonal intimacy, then not only does masturbation and pornography use go against those values, but God is both concerned about that and one can draw upon the power of Christ’s Atonement in one’s struggle. For some people, this could be a very powerful experience.
    Is there a way to avoid the bad elements of the addiction model while keeping the idea the God might care about your sexual expression enough to give you power to live according to your values? Could a simpler repentance model replace the addiction model? Could approaches like ACT be paired with a repentance model that is not driven by shame and fear but is instead driven my compassion and courage?

  9. Anonymous
    October 20, 2016 at 7:38 am

    We need to avoid talking about sex such a Taboo topic… and it’s very frustrating as the stereo typical male to have more sexual libido than my spouse. After 15 years of marriage we’ve come very close to getting a divorce my indulgence with my type of porn (sexting anonymously) and masturbation.

    One time I had relapse, I was praying trying to figure out what to do… my new Bishop wouldn’t be as understanding as previous Bishops, and knowing it would probably be the last straw for my wife too, I believe I felt the spirit just say… don’t say anything, don’t confess… you’ve done it the past, and doing so would make things much worse, and since then things have been okay, even if I occasionally relapse (my average is about once a month or so). I can honestly say not confessing was probably the best choice. I guess I’m denying my ungodliness (Moro 10:30) when doing so.

    In the past we’ve seen three psychologists, read books, 12 steps ARP, joined chat support groups, etc.

    Addiction model helped me, but I’m left as the one that has unhealthy sexuality, the bad unworthy spouse, but I’ve grown over the last years and reached a state where I love and accept myself and sexuality and reject being shamed. I know longer believe in the church the way I use to… I still believe in its divine purposes, but I don’t hold it to the level of perfection that Christ is…

    Ultimately, I’m still with my spouse even if at times I wish I had the chance to start from scratch with someone that would be more loving and accepting, and I believe my spouse has grown to love me and accept me more as I’ve accepted myself. I wonder if she has just decided to turn a blind eye to our past problems which I hide from her, since it does us no good to be open about them.

    It saddens me to think that I will have to share eternal life with someone being like this… hiding the part of me she doesn’t like. How much longer can I love my spouse being like this? I guess we keep on mostly for the kids…

    • Tammy Ellis
      October 23, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      That is heartbreaking. I’m sorry you are going through that and wish I had the answers. If we let go of the belief that something I’d harmful and shameful, sometimes that helps. embrace your sexuality as a god-given blessing. Why is it ok for your spouse to touch you but it’s not ok to touch yourself? That is a question I have for everybody!

  10. Q
    October 21, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Gambling is another behavior which has been considered an addiction by some, and like pornography it doesn’t involve the direct introduction of chemicals into the brain. I am curious how gambling is regarded by mental health practitioners.

    • Tammy Ellis
      October 23, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Gambling is considered, and is called in the DSM-5, a “disorder” rather than an addiction. But if you replaced all the criteria for gambling with sex or porn addiction, it doesn’t work.

  11. Charlene
    October 25, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    In discussing this podcast with some friends we wondered if the problem lies in church doctrine, that sex is solely for making and sustaining families (not just the biological making but also the social and emotional making.) I wonder if there isn’t some way we could (should) be thinking of sex doctrinally that would also lead to a healthier approach to all things sexual.

  12. Michael Barker
    November 30, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Sorry I’m coming to this so late. I just finished part 1. Towards the end Dr. Nicole Prause mentioned the coolidge effect. I couldn’t quite get her point. I googled the term and found this link. Can I get some clarification on what her point was?

    http://yourbrainonporn.com/porn-novelty-and-the-coolidge-effect

  13. Michael Barker
    November 30, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Sorry, my wife’s face showed up on the previous comment instead of mine. Doh!

  14. Kandee
    April 29, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I would love to hear Kevin Skinner chime in. Please invite him to share the work he is doing at Addo Recovery and with Bloom.

    And the idea the FTND is doing harm in the high schools triggered my thinking. Sharing the dangers of porn in my perspective is not teaching sexuality as suggested during the discussion. In the 70’s we had people, not necessarily licensed therapist, come and explain the dangers of drugs in my high school. Experience is a great teacher. I applaud FTND and felt confused there was even a discussion about their qualifications not being sufficient.

    • Tammy Ellis
      April 30, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Kandee,

      You stated, “Sharing the dangers of porn in my perspective is not teaching sexuality as suggested during the discussion. In the 70’s we had people, not necessarily licensed therapists, come and explain the dangers of drugs in my high school.”

      Remember the D.A.R.E. program? An overall FAILURE. We were all taught the dangers of drugs, and it failed as a whole. Research was done showing it was not effective. Penn State University developed an (and this is important) EVIDENCE-BASED program called “Keepin’ it REAL, which is now being implemented in the US, and they, last I checked, were having success. Using evidence-based practices is important. Last I checked, Shame and Fear are not evidence-based practices that will help our youth avoid pornography. Comprehensive sexuality education, on the other hand, is our ticket.

      By your response, it sounds like you have already decided that pornography is like a drug, and is dangerous. As mentioned in the podcast, as well as in responses throughout this thread, the problem is not that we (as therapists) think it’s ok for youth to view porn—I believe most would agree it’s not a good idea due to the fact that it gives youth a false impression of what healthy sexuality is—but rather that youth need a healthier approach to sexuality, and a way of teaching about pornography that doesn’t use fear and shame, and that is EVIDENCE-BASED, which FTND claims it is, but it isn’t.

      That being said, the WAY FTND handles porn, is shame and fear-based, which actually helps perpetuate the problem in the first place. Second, FTND uses poor science for their claims.

      Simply put, it is an unhealthy way to approach youth about pornography. It’s also hypocritical to accept FTND without accepting healthy sexuality education that uses comprehensive teachings, including abstinence, in its curriculum. Utah has some huge problems with porn and sexuality—we are trying to make it a healthier place. FTND is simply trying to instill fear in our youth. Highly ineffective, and even damaging to use such a method.

      Porn doesn’t kill love, SHAME kills love. We need to keep shame and fear out of the topic of sexuality—that is more unhealthy for sexuality than anything I know.

      • Kandee
        May 1, 2017 at 9:23 am

        Thank you Tammy for sharing your thoughts. Somethings we are in agreement with. I haven’t experience FTND using shame and fear in the settings I have witnessed the founder speaking. I also see the topic “warning HS students of easy access to porn” different then “helping HS students explore their sexuality”. My view may be limited. I used lots of drugs in HS and found the “scared straight” speakers that visited my HS provocative enough to open my mind. D.A.R.E. is a program I am not as familiar with so my reference was more from the 70’s HS interventions. I do find there is research based evidence to my conclusions albeit different than those you claim. I am also suspicious of the addiction model but possibly for different reasons then those on this podcast. I remember the deception in my own drug addiction and feel this model can be used as a “I’m broken” escape rather than seeking a better understanding of themselves or choices. Shame & fear are not models I find any good fruit and fortunately I see nothing shameful about sex but for me porn has very little to do with sex or is not the kind of sex I think worth having. I am a convert to the LDS Church and prior to baptism there were 2 things stumbling my decision. History of the Priesthood and masturbation. I wasn’t sure I could join an organization that suggested it was wrong for men to masturbate. This was 1980 so the leaders I asked were a bit surprised a young 18 year old would concern herself with this matter but I was. I share this to let you know I am not your typical Saint and it is the social implication and biological consequences of porn not to mention the emotional havoc it can play in a man’s heart that worry me. I have witnessed men grow numb to their goodness not to mention their wives and children. From my experience it seems to feed a type of self betrayal and/or self deception that I might consider worse then extramarital affairs? Blame, accusations, a level of immaturity and high levels of deception seem to be rampant among those who justify watching sex over learning how to love another. Exploring sexuality through on-line porn seems like suggesting it is okay to drive while intoxicated. Harsh comparrison I know but some drivers make it home safe while others do not. My experience is that the porn available today should have large warnings “this is not your father’s porn” and should be treated differently. I do think the porn epidemic is real and deserves our best selves to show up when evaluating the pros and cons.

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