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Denial is the Biggest Barrier to Porn Addiction Recovery!


Denial in Porn Addiction



porn addiction denial, porn addict, porn addict recovery, defeating porn addiction denial
Denial prevents porn addiction recovery

The brain has a clever way of protecting us from experiencing painful truths and uncomfortable realities, and that is denial.


Denial is one of the most robust defense mechanisms that allow an addict to avoid accepting what is really going on inside and right in front of their eyes. It’s the mechanism that ensures the continued and habitual use of something that has serious negative consequences on a person’s life; in this case pornography.


Has your husband or partner told you their porn habit is ‘normal’? Or, when you’ve asked him to stop said ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘I don’t have a problem’?


If that’s the case, it’s likely that he is dependent on watching pornography but is still in denial about that fact as well as the consequences of his behavior. Denial is one of the most difficult aspects of addiction and often stands in the way of getting treatment and starting on the road to recovery.


How does denial work?


Porn addiction can cause or worsen mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It can cost people their partners, families, friends and even their jobs; and people often lose their social standing and their place in their community. The addiction is a source of much shame, self-hatred and low self-esteem for the addict. Common sense would suggest that when the consequences of an action are so costly and far-reaching, people would stop the behavior for the sake of their own wellbeing as well as their families, occupation and social lives. But this doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to addiction.


Aside from a bio-chemical dependency that hijacks the brain and significantly reduces the control the addict has over their behavior, there is another process at work.


Denial is a type of self-deception and some would even go as far as saying it is downright delusion. Accepting the truth about their addiction would cause the user much psychological pain and distress. So if a person believes that there are no negative consequences to watching porn or believes that there is no problem, it becomes easy to continue their porn consumption. In other words, the truth cannot stop this damaging behavior because they are in denial about it.


The addict first has to discover, understand and accept that it is porn that is producing the negative consequences in their lives and this means having ‘causal knowledge’. In order to know that an action is causing an outcome, an association between the two has to be made. Denial interferes with this process of reasoning because accepting the consequences of your behavior can be frightening and it can be shameful to acknowledge that your addiction has caused harm to yourself and the people you love.


Another way to gain causal knowledge is through general or societal consensus that a given behavior is bad for you. Take smoking for example; once the research and evidence that smoking causes disease became widely available and accepted, people started to admit that fact and the majority of people stopped smoking (or got help to do so). Unfortunately, the porn and sex industries including extramarital dating websites and webcam sites have a vested interest in making people believe that porn is unproblematic and contribute to the normalization of its consumption. Not to mention the profits pharmaceutical companies are making because of the sharp rise in sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction.


So if watching porn is seen as normal – and even encouraged and celebrated - by society, friends and family members, the addict does not perceive their behavior as deviant even if it is detrimental to them personally. For this reason, the porn consumer doesn’t think their use requires serious concern. Especially in the early stages, there is a lack of awareness about the problematic and potentially dangerous consequences of their porn consumption. But as the severity of the addiction grows, the addict becomes more and more defensive about their behavior and grows more hostile towards any confrontation by loved ones. Denial takes hold and sabotages their ability to see the truth.


A commonly held belief is that porn addiction is not real. Many people believe that only substances such as drugs and alcohol can be addictive but the reality is that behavioral addictions exist. Porn addiction, like gambling addiction is not dependent on a substance being consumed but creates the same bio-chemical responses as any other addiction, and can be just as destructive to a person’s life.


Another widespread belief is that there is no cure for porn addiction. But this is another way of denying reality and allowing yourself to continue consuming pornographic material. The reality is that through accessing porn addiction counseling, building a healthy relationship with sex and your partner is achievable – it just means you have to stop denying and start accepting the truth. If you are concerned about your own or your partner’s porn consumption, reach out to us for advice and we will support you through this process!


The internal conflict of an addict


Addiction creates a tension between a person’s desire (addiction) and their values or beliefs. This inconsistency creates discomfort and unease and people are motivated to remove or reduce this internal conflict. Instead of changing the behavior, it is easier to change the belief about the behavior and the addict will find a thousand excuses and justifications for their actions.


The negative consequences of addiction will not stop an addict from watching porn despite the fact that he is harming himself (regardless of whether he is consciously aware of this or not). There are two options to reduce the anxiety this causes: either quit porn (desire) or deny any negative consequences (belief). Quitting alone is too difficult so most porn addicts will convince themselves that the negative effects of watching porn are not as bad as people claim or simply deny the fact that there are any negative consequences at all – he will modify his belief system and avoid any information which challenges his view.


Porn watchers often hold the belief that porn helps them to relieve stress and boredom and somehow numbs their anxiety or other negative emotions. Denial is a complex psychological process that reduces a person’s awareness of the fact that porn is not the solution to their problems but is actually causing or contributing to their problems in a big way. This makes denial a fundamental part of continuing the use of pornography despite negative consequences and gets in the way of recovery – because the porn addict often doesn’t even recognize that they have a problem in the first place!


The many faces of denial


People with an addiction reject the costs and consequences of their actions and cannot accept that what they are doing is destroying their own lives and the lives of the people around them; because that would be a tough pill to swallow! In the depth of the addiction, the person will minimize and justify their consumption of porn while ignoring or denying the warning signs of a serious problem.


Some addicts will blame others for their consumption of porn ‘if my wife had sex with me more often then I wouldn’t watch porn’.


Others feel entitled to watch it ‘I have such a stressful life with kids, wife and a job so I don’t see anything wrong with blowing off a bit of steam by watching porn’.


Justification is another form of denial ‘every man watches porn, so why shouldn’t I?’


And minimization offers another technique to deny the severity of their problem ‘I only watch it in the evenings; other people watch it at work so clearly it’s not that bad!’


This kind of distorted thinking allows an addict to be spared from the uncomfortable truth about their habit. Unfortunately, partners and families are faced with the negative consequences of the porn addict’s behavior.


What do you do when your partner denies they have a problem?


1. Have the facts


Remember that someone who is in denial about their addiction will likely reject your claims and shut down the conversation. He might say that he doesn’t watch it a lot or not at all and tell you that you’re overreacting. This is why it’s helpful to gather some information beforehand and be prepared about what to say. That way it will be harder for him to deny the effect it is having on you and your relationship.


Make notes about his behavior and how he has changed towards you or in himself. How has his porn habit affected the relationship? Has he become more hostile towards you or less affectionate? Has your sex life reduced or has the sex become different, for example more aggressive or kinky? Does he seem withdrawn or does he spend a lot more time on his computer?


2. Be compassionate


It’s a good idea to let him know how it makes you feel and what impact his porn habit is having on you and your relationship. As you confront your partner in love, do not be afraid to set healthy boundaries and expectations. Remember, that so long as the addiction continues, nothing will improve in your relationship. If your partner is unwilling to listen or change, you may have to walk from the relationship. To stay in a relationship where your partner continues unphased in their addiction is to enable their addiction and to enable the unhealthy and toxic dynamics in your relationship. Setting firm boundaries and expectations for your relationship; rooted in truth and love, is essential for the healthy survival of your romance. Also remember, until an addict experiences a point of pain so acute according to their own standards that the addiction is no longer worth the pain they are experiencing, they won’t be ready to change. Pain is the warning system that something is drastically wrong in their life and it is the pressure point that leads to change.


3. Get help from a therapist


It is very difficult, if not impossible to overcome addiction alone, and the best way to help the addict to heal and rebuild their life is to seek out a therapist who is experienced in porn addiction. A therapist will help him to accept the truthabout his habit, understand the addiction, achieve abstinence and experience transformation of the thought life. Importantly, going through therapy as an individual and as a couple will strengthen the relationship and allow you both to heal.


4. Have patience


Being in the grip of denial means it might take time before the addict accepts that he needs help and to begin with, it is likely he will dismiss you and refuse help. Forcing someone to change is not possible nor is it effective. What you have to do in that situation is to set healthy boundaries and expectations with the addict so that they understand what you will not enable and what you will not tolerate. Helping him to become aware, and having clear evidence of how his actions are affecting his life and other people will help him to realize the destructive impact his habit is having and put him on a path to the point of pain where he is willing to take the first step of recovery. If you need advice on how to handle your husband or partner’s porn addiction, contact us today and we will be able to support you.


Breaking through denial and recovering from addiction requires truthfulness, forgiveness, and humility. Helping a person understand their addiction and the ways in which it is damaging their relationships can help a person become aware of their addiction. However, this is just the first step and will not prevent them from relapsing. Learning how to face the addiction, how to establish abstinence, and deal with the addict’s oppressive thought life, along with understanding and healing from the underlying issues that serve as fuel for the addiction is vital to recovery; For those with a Christian faith, a Christian sex therapist can support the addict in drawing on the power that comes from their relationship with God in their recovery journey. It was CS. Lewis who said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe in the sun, not just because I see it, but by it I see everything else. We at Kane Counseling support people of all faiths in drawing on the strengths of their moral belief system in their journey of recovery, but we specialize in particular, in helping Christians experience the full power of their faith in helping them to address their struggles with pornography addiction.


Being free from addiction and having a healthy relationship and sex life with your partner will bring a tremendous amount of joy, love and fulfilment into your life! And the journey to achieving a meaningful and satisfying relationship starts with accepting the truth about your porn addiction and putting an end to it. Call us today for a consultation.


Sources


https://www.intherooms.com/home/iloverecovery/addiction/porn-addicts-and-denial/


https://psychcentral.com/blog/sex-addiction/2015/07/4-stages-of-denial-of-sex-addiction#1

Hanna Pickard (2018) The Puzzle of addiction:

https://www.hannapickard.com/uploads/3/1/5/5/31550141/pickard_-_puzzle_of_addiction_-_penultimate_draft.pdf


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