Anatomy of a Porn Addiction

So just how did you get addicted to porn in the first place? Seemingly, against your will?  How does it happen?

The first thing we have to understand is our conscious mind can only focus and pay attention to a couple things at a time.  And anything really intricate or important requires all of our attention.

Yet we live in an extremely complex world requiring us to do many things at once.  And we do it.  So how does the brain manage?

It creates programs, we call them habits, that allow it to put any routine behavior or series of behaviors on “autopilot”.  It writes a program to cover all the repetitive actions that make up the behavior, sets the parameters for the behavior, and then turns it loose.

Now the thing is, the brain will do this to absolutely any and every behavior it can in its effort to save energy and conserve attention for everything new and challenging in its environment.

Got it?

This understanding of brain function should be pretty self-evident.  All you have to do is look inside yourself and exam your own behaviors.  Look to your own life experiences, like learning to ride a bicycle or drive a car.

When you first started to learn, you were all over the map.  On a bike, you were a danger to yourself.  Learning to drive a car you were a danger to yourself and others!

Every action you needed to take to move that bike or car required all your attention, and still you couldn’t put it all together.

But you practiced.  And practiced.  Day after day for as long as it took trying desperately to master the intricate behaviors “riding a bike” and “driving a car.”  At times it got very frustrating, didn’t it?  Some days it seemed you’d never get it, didn’t it?

But one day, finally, something in your brain “clicked” and you could do it.  Effortlessly.

One moment you couldn’t do it.  The next moment you could. It seemed almost instantaneous, didn’t it?  But actually it had taken all those days of work and effort and sweat and frustration.  That one moment, when your head “clicked,” that was your brain finally fitting all the pieces of the bike-riding, car-driving puzzle together.

Isn’t that how it happened?

Sure.

So, what does this have to do with your addiction to porn?  Everything.

You see, you followed the exact same process when  you were “teaching” your brain to crave pornography.

“Huh?  I did that?  I “taught” my brain to crave porn?”

You bet. That’s exactly what you did.

It wasn’t exactly intentional, though.  Not like learning to ride a bike or drive a car.

I mean, you didn’t sit down one day and say to your dad, “Dad, I think it’s time I learned to use pornography obsessively.  Will you teach me how?”

And your dad didn’t reply, “Sure, son.  You’re old enough now to have your own porn habit now.  Let me get my Penthouses!”

No, you didn’t mean to do create a porn habit.  Certainly not an addiction.  But that’s what happened.

You accessed porn, it doesn’t matter from where, and you got really, really great feedback from it (lust). This told your brain, “Hey! Pay attention! THIS is really important. We like this a lot. Do this again.  And again.  And again!”

And that was all the instruction your brain needed. It got to work writing a program that would automate the behavior of accessing porn so you wouldn’t have to give it any more conscious attention than it absolutely needed.

Now, every time something in your world triggers that program (we’ll get to the triggers later), your brain goes, “Click. Whirrrrr!” and your off to the porn races.

The problem?  Once the brain writes a program for a behavior and loads it into your “hard drive,” changing it or stopping it is really, really hard.  In fact, it’s well-nigh impossible.

Go back to the example of learning to ride a bike.  Remember what it was like when you first tried to ride a bike? You were all over the place. You could barely stay balanced to save your life.

But then what happened? Eventually your brain went, “Click. Whirrrr,” and balancing on a bike became as easy as falling off had been.

And how well did your brain learn to balance on a bike?

Go see.  Go out, find a bike and get on it. Then try to fall off. Try to “lose” your balance.

You can’t, can you? It’s pretty much impossible to unlearn balancing on a bike.

That’s how well your brain did its job.  It learned what you told it to learn. To balance.  And it pretty much can’t unlearn to balance.

In fact, you can’t unlearn balancing on a bike even if your life depended on it.

Think about that. Someone comes up to you, puts a gun to your head or to the head of your wife and kids, and says, “Here’s a bike. I want to see you unlearn your bicycle riding skill or I will kill them.”

Better say good-bye to your family, because you will not be able to do it.

Next, More Bad News


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