377 -The Porn Trap
Counselor Toolbox

 
 
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The Porn Trap
Based in part on the book by Wendy and Larry Maltz, LCSWs
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC
Executive Director, AllCEUs Education
Host: Counselor Toolbox Podcast

CEUs are available for this presentation as part of the Sex and Pornography Addiction Recovery Coaching Certificate Track https://www.allceus.com/member/cart?c=42 or as an individual 2 hour class at https://www.allceus.com/member/cart/index/product/id/999/c/
Want to listen to it as a podcast instead? Subscribe to Counselor Toolbox Podcast

Objectives
~ Explore the hidden power of porn
~ Identify the characteristic relationships with porn
~ Review the consequences of porn
~ Review the impact of porn on partners
~ Identify 6 action steps to quit porn
~ Learn about handling and preventing relapses
~ Identify strategies for healing as a couple
Effects of Porn on the Brain
~ Dopamine is the main motivation chemical
~ Dopamine is all about seeking and searching for rewards, the anticipation, the wanting.
~ Dopamine surges for novelty
~ Dopamine provides the motivation and drive to pursue potential rewards or long term goals
~ Endogenous opioids are the main reward chemical.
~ Naltrexone has been found effective for blocking the endogenous opioids and reducing the reward https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18241634
~ Stimulates testosterone

Effects of Porn on the Brain
~ The adolescent brain has an:
~ immature prefrontal cortex
~ over-responsive limbic circuits
~ overactive dopamine system
~ a pronounced HPA axis
~ augmented levels of testosterone
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30754014
Hidden Power of Porn
~ The Coolidge Effect
~ Tiring of one partner/stimulus, but having a powerful automatic response to novelty
~ The brain does not differentiate (very much) between 2-D and 3-D partners
~ The desire and motivation to pursue sex arises largely from a neurochemical called dopamine which compels you to do things that further your survival and pass on your genes
~ Sexual stimulation offers the biggest natural blast of dopamine available to your reward circuitry
~ Porn can give people the illusion of power and control
~ Variable ratio schedule of reward

~ Dopamine is released for:
~ Seeking and searching for novelty, food, sex, safety
~ Novel stimuli (i.e. internet porn)
~ Anything that violates expectations – shock, surprise, or more than we could have imagined
~ Strong emotions – such as desire, guilt, disgust, embarrassment, anxiety & fear https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0017047
~ Strong emotions elevate dopamine and boost norepinephrine, and cortisol. This increases excitement while amplifying dopamine’s effects.
~ Over time a porn user’s brain can mistake feelings of anxiety or fear for feelings of sexual arousal
~ Internet porn can alter brain circuitry for sexuality– especially during adolescence when the brain is highly malleable and programed to learn all about sex.

~ Video porn is far more arousing than static porn because it involves more senses and is more “life-like”.
~ To increase sexual arousal (and raise declining dopamine) one can instantly switch genres
~ Porn videos replace your imagination, and may shape your sexual tastes, behavior, or trajectory (especially so for adolescents).
~ Porn is stored in your brain, which allows you to recall it anytime you need a “hit.”
~ Unlike food and drugs, for which there is a limit to consumption, there are no physical limitations to internet porn consumption. The brain’s natural satiation mechanisms are not activated, unless one climaxes. Even then, the user can click to something more exciting to become aroused again.

Porn and Sexual Conditioning
~ Psychological Messages
~ This how people have sex, and this is how I should do it.
~ This is what turns me on.
~ This is what people should look and act like

Porn and Sexual Conditioning
~ Physiological Conditioning
~ Excess masturbation is the signal to your primitive brain that you have hit the evolutionary jackpot.
~ With continued regular over-consumption, high levels of dopamine trigger the production of the protein DeltaFosB which accumulates in the reward circuitry and activates certain genes which initiate several brain changes, including sensitization.
~ Chronic overconsumption → Dopamine → DeltaFosB → Sensitization
~ Sensitization occurs when the brain wires together the sensory stimui emotions, and memories associated with a big reward and creates a pathway to the reward center that can be activated by cues or triggers creating powerful, hard to ignore, cravings.
~ Desensitization occurs when stimuli become “old” and the person needs novel stimuli (Coolidge effect)

What is Porn
~ Sexually explicit or erotic video
~ Sexually explicit or erotic audio
~ Sexually explicit or erotic pictures
~ Sexually explicit or erotic prose (Lady Chatterly’s Lover)
~ Definition of what porn is does not rely on how graphic it is, but with the person’s relationship to it.
~ The goal of porn is to sexually arouse and involve the consumer in a relationship with it.

Encountering Porn
~ Porn can satisfy unmet childhood needs
~ Learning about sex
~ Belonging to a group
~ Sexual pleasure/permission
~ Coping with distress

The Relationship Begins
~ We are likely to become emotionally and physically attached to something we regularly turn to for emotional comfort
~ Distress (depression, anxiety, loneliness)
~ To quell cravings
~ To provide excitement
Protective Factors
~ Disliking porn
~ Having limited contact with porn, especially before age 25
~ Feeling sexually secure and satisfied
~ Wanting to experience emotional intimacy
~ High self esteem, confidence and efficacy
~ Secure attachment relationship that helped the child learn to deal with distress and form a solid sense of self and self-esteem

Risk Factors
~ Associating porn with pleasure or relief of dysphoria
~ Untenable stress, anxiety or depression
~ Lack of social supports
~ Unrestricted access to porn
~ Difficulty with intimacy
~ Trust
~ Abandonment
~ Communication
~ Nontraditional sexual interests*
Negative Consequences
~ Easily irritated
~ Depressed
~ Isolation
~ Objectifying people
~ Neglecting important life areas
~ Sexual dysfunction
~ Relationship issues
~ Shame and guilt
~ Escalation into risky areas
~ Physiological and psychological craving/”need” for porn
Developing Motivation to Quit
~ What does your rich and meaningful life look like?
~ People
~ Things
~ Activities
~ Values—I want to be someone who is…
~ Does using porn help you draw closer to those goals?—DB-Exercise*
Developing Motivation to Quit
Action Steps
~ Tell someone about the problem
~ Get involved in a treatment or self-help program
~ Create a porn-free environment
~ Family oriented ISP/Cable
~ Change your email
~ Install net-nanny programs
~ Call ahead and have porn movies not available at your hotel
~ Don’t drive by adult stores
~ Establish 24-hour accountability
~ Take care of your emotional and physical health (prevent vulnerabilities)
~ Start healing your sexuality
Start Healing Your Sexuality
~ Sex is caring for someone
~ Sex is sharing a genuine connection with a partner
~ Sex involves healthy communication
~ Sex respects boundaries
~ Sex enhances who you are and your self-esteem

Relapse Prevention
~ Know the types or relapse
~ Emotional
~ Mental
~ Physical/behavioral
Relapse Prevention
~ Know your triggers and how to prevent or mitigate them
~ Develop healthy alternatives to viewing porn/masturbation
~ Learn radical acceptance and the Bee theory
~ Practice mindfulness
~ Prevent and mitigate vulnerabilities
~ What triggers your use?
~ What needs does porn fulfill?
~ Add in pleasure (All work and no play…)
~ Have a support system
~ Develop and emergency plan

Healing as a Couple
~ An Intimacy Oriented Approach to Sex
~ Engage in courtship
~ Practice looking with love
~ Expand your sensory awareness
~ Explore the realm of sensual pleasure
~ Holding hands
~ Massage: foot, back, head; brush hair
~ Hot tub
~ Aromatherapy
~ Touch—Feathers, massage balls, types of manual touch
~ Explore communicating emotions via touch: Flirtatious, adventurous, sexy, nurturing
~ Talk with your partner about sexual likes, dislikes, needs etc.
~ Create ground rules regarding emotional and physical safety
Summary
~ Pornography is everywhere
~ It hijacks peoples primitive drives for survival and reproduction
~ Pornography use is not always bad
~ To begin the change process
~ Describe how you envision a rich and meaningful life
~ Review the effects pornography has had on you
~ Explain how pornography does or does not fit into that vision of a RML
~ Identify triggers for use and prevent or mitigate them
~ Identify needs porn fulfills and find alternate methods for need fulfillment
~ Practice mindfulness
~ Get support

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