I think Sigmund Freud was a genius in his own right but he was also a product of the Victorian era in which he lived. His theory of human consciousness was revolutionary, yes, but I have always been fascinated by its similarity to the Christian idea of the two natures: the spirit and the flesh. I believe Freud’s inspiration was influenced by the Christian culture in which he lived; much as Marx borrowed from the early Christian idea of sharing all things in common and from it postulated the heresy of communism. (Yes, communism is a Christian heresy.)
What does this have to do with pornography addiction – with your porn addiction specifically – and how to break free of porn? I’ll get to that. I promise.
In his theory, Freud asserted that within the psyche there exists something called the id (German for “It”) which he asserted is our most primitive self. The basic idea is that a central part of our consciousness is a sort of primal personality from which the rest of our personality develops. This primal self embodies all the characteristics of a spoiled brat. Freud said this is the true, unconstrained nature of every person prior to being subjected to, and subjugated by, the overwhelming forces of socialization. The Id is “The Wild Child Within.”
Today, Freud’s ‘Id’ is being replaced by the evolutionary idea of the “old brain”, or “reptilian brain,” so called because the Limbic System, which evolutionary biologist believe evolved before the cerebrum, is believed to be the emotional center of the brain and is the part of the brain that controls and regulates our most basic drives and impulses, like survival, hunger, sex and fear.
(Here’s a question for you. When is a metaphor not a metaphor? When it mascaraeds as a scientific fact. But I digress.)
This Wild Child Within is:
- Purely Pleasure Oriented
- Intolerant of pressure to be perfect or good, or of any of life’s pressures; AND, most of all. . .
- ANGRY ALL THE TIME at not getting its way!
Sounds like some of my foster children. Heck, sounds like some of my co-workers!
Shoot! Sounds like me on a bad day!
Wrong! It’s all of us.
But it also sounds like what the Apostle Paul is talking about when he talks about “the lusts of the flesh”. He describes it like this: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Id. The It. The Flesh.
Sounds like they’re talking about the same thing. And if they are describing a universal trait of all human beings, it’s clear bringing such a force under control would be considered Job #1 for any civil society.
Freud postulated in order to bring this inner wild child under control, he called it repression, the psyche develops a number of tools or defense mechanisms to handle the It. Contrary to popular usage, these defense mechanisms are considered by Freud to be good things and are only bad when they fail to fully repress the Id. Meaning the little booger ends up getting out! And it can end up wreaking havoc on us.
Christianity has its own tools for dealing with the Flesh, what later came to be called, amid much controversy still, the “sinful nature”. But I’m not going to talk about those tools here.
Instead, I’m going to discuss how the unrepressed Id is dealt with when it gets out and causes back pain.
Huh? Back pain?
That’s right. Back pain.
In his book, The Mind-Body Connection, Dr. John Sarno, a orthopedic surgeon, postulates that any back pain without a clearly diagnosable injury (as well as many psychosomatic illnesses) is being caused by our subconscious mind’s inability to adequately repress our Inner Wild Child, which is perpetually pissed off at not getting its own way. He claims to successfully treat close to 90% of the patients that come to him. Even those who have been unhelped by surgery or pills. His clients include shock-jock Howard Stern and former ABC 20/20 correspondent John Stossel.
Dr. Sarno’s cure for back pain? Attend a three hour lecture explaining how unconscious anger triggers your brain to cause you pain so you don’t act out your rage. Then, clearly acknowledge to yourself that you are angry at life for not giving you everything you want. Also, journaling about your feelings, sometimes psychotherapy and sometimes support groups are also recommended. But knowledge is his primary weapon.
Does it work? Well, it worked for me a few years ago after my divorce. But I never went to the doctor for my pain so I don’t have a story to tell of long suffering with back pain. I found Sarno’s book before I needed to and I followed his prescription. I recognized I am a man of flesh and acknowledged it’s want and desires while also telling it it wasn’t going to have its way with me. And it didn’t. My back pain resolved.
You can read more about Dr. Sarno here.
So what does this have to do with your pornography addiction? Plenty.
I believe porn addiction is not about sex. It’s about giving in to the Wild Child Within. About wanting your own way and being subconsciously angry, pissed off and raging because you think your felt-needs are not being satisfied. Felt-Need is a term I use to describe our inner feeling of deficiency or lack. The distinction I make about felt-needs is they are not absolutes. Just because you feel a need doesn’t mean it ought to be satisfied. It may only feel that way. Like a young man’s felt-need to have a couple of orgasms a day! Or an older man’s felt-need to get a hormone high from pornography.
The word need ought to mean exclusively something your body, mind or spirit requires to maintain your life at an appropriate level or to advance you life to more life-enriching levels.
Does your porn habit do that?
So how does this help you with your porn addiction? Or a man’s non-addicted pornography habit?
Whenever you feel yourself being pulled toward porn, toward acting out your subconscious rage and anger at life’s unfairness by using pornography, turn in the direction of the skid!
Don’t resist it head on. Don’t try to fight it mana-a-mano.
Remember: What we resist, persists!
Instead, turn toward your feelings, look them straight in the face and say, “I see you! I know you. Yes, I am angry! Yes, I am pissed off at _________ and __________ and _________ (fill in the blanks). Yes, I want to use porn because I am frustrated and raging and want to strike out or just change the bad way I am feeling.
But I’m not going to. I don’t have to. I don’t have to do what my flesh is demanding; what my angry wild child within wants to do. I can make a better choice.”
Try it. Next time you are caught in a lust storm or come under a porn attack, recognize your wild child is throwing a temper tantrum and tell it to knock it off!
Let me know what happens.