How Do I Know If I Have an Addiction to Pornography or Other Sexual Behaviors?
For most of us it’s difficult to admit we have an addiction. Our natural tendency is to push off the obvious signs and evidence that occur with compulsive behaviors. Often times, someone that develops an addiction to pornography or other sexual behaviors suffer with the unfortunate loss of loved ones, falls into financial woes, and then unintentionally develops uncharacteristic mood swings that eventually severs them from their normal activities.
If you feel that you have an addiction to pornography or other sexual behaviors, these are some signs to watch for:
- Severe mood changes related to pornography or sexual behaviors
- Unmanageable sexual patterns or behaviors
- Neglect of family, work, and other regular activities
- Obsessive behaviors
- Inability to stop compulsive behaviors resulting in negative consequences
- Becoming self-destructive or high-risk
- The need to have more sexual experiences
- Reoccurring failure to resist impulses related to addictive behaviors
If you relate to three or more behaviors listed in the above criteria, it is important to seek treatment. Pornography and sexual behaviors can be clearly defined as psychological or emotional addiction. Dependencies for these compulsive behaviors grow uncontrollable and quickly become detrimental to an individual’s life.
Getting to the root of sexual and porn addiction comes from years of study from Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in sexual addiction research and the treatment for it. He explains that an addiction to pornography contains four core beliefs. These are the results of most sexual addicts:
- I am basically a bad, unworthy person.
- No one would love me as I am.
- My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend on others.
- Sex is my most important need.
Dr. Carnes further explains that most addictions to sex or pornography start in childhood due to the lack of human care. Sexual addiction becomes confused with basic comforting and nurturing development and the subject will continue engaging in this negative behavior until it has grown into an addiction. As a result, they soon learn to depend on these feelings and develop compulsive sexual behaviors, acting on sexual impulses without regard to the consequences they create.
As more time passes, the person may develop other forms of sexual addiction. Some of those lead to substance abuse, dominance, control, or the abuse of a partner. Sexual activities can vary in a wide range‒ from very limited sexual activity all the way to a collection of sexual paraphernalia and encounters that includes high levels of fantasy.
Shame and secrecy most often accompanies the sex addict. These addictions cannot foster healthy relationships and have negative consequences. The ability to enjoy sex becomes impossible as the typical addict appears to have no control over these impulses. A sexual appetite grows exponentially until they will let nothing stand in the way of their sexual needs being fulfilled.
Like any compulsive behavior left untreated, it will continue to grow out of control. For those who feel like they have imprisoned their emotional power towards sexual behaviors, finding treatment to renew inner-beliefs and strengthen one’s ability to address the problem is just one step away.