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The Cycle of Shame | Pornography Addiction

Updated: Feb 15, 2022

One of our deepest longings as people is to have connection with others. But when we see parts of ourselves that we think are shameful, we think, "If somebody knows this about me, then I won't be worthy of connection." We then isolate that part of ourselves to keep it hidden from others. But when I'm isolating parts of myself, because I see that part of me as negative, bad, etc., I am also likely going to aggravate that part of me that feels driven for connection.

When I isolate parts of myself (because I see that part of me as negative, bad, etc.), I am also likely going to aggravate that part of me that feels driven for connection.

An example of this is found in addiction to pornography. Often times, I will have clients come to me who see this part of themselves as being extremely shameful, something that they cannot share with others because they are terrified of what that might mean for their relationships. So, they hide this part of themselves, often making secret promises to themselves that they can't keep.

  • That shame leads to isolation;

  • Isolation then aggravates that part that is driven for connection;

  • and that part that is driven for connection leads to more connection-seeking behavior (in this case, engaging with pornography).

  • more connection-seeking behavior leads to even more shame;

  • and the cycle continues.

Furthermore, shame disembodies us from our experience. In other words, when we isolate a part of ourselves because of our shame, we also isolate parts of our experience. This means that we don't fully experience our behavior and therefore will be unable to come to a clear position on it, leading to a sense of cognitive dissonance: when my body and brain have competing feelings/beliefs/values. This is often the case for clients who come to therapy believing that they must ignore/betray their body in order to honor the goals in their mind.

What's key here, is to recognize that at the core of many of these behaviors, are deep yearnings for connection. And as we untangle the shame attached to behaviors like pornography addiction, we can come to a clearer, more holistic position on it.

How does therapy help?

Although there are many diverse opinions on pornography/erotica, I want to first work on untangling the shame by recognizing in therapy that you, your body, and your sexuality are good; and that the desire for connection to others and your self, is good. From there, we examine the parts of you and your sexuality that feel like they aren't in your control anymore.

You, your body, and your sexuality, are good.

By taking the courageous step to come to therapy--by even just talking about it--you bring a part of you that has been isolated in to connection. This action is significant in taking meaningful steps towards becoming closer to who you are and want to be.

Do you experience shame or addiction? Have you been impacted by a loved one who experiences shame or addiction? Consider booking a free consultation, and see if therapy with us is the right fit for you.

Do you have any feedback/questions on this article? Feel free to leave a comment and let us know. We'd love to continue learning with you :)


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