Conventional, licensed therapy, The Twelve Step approach, and religion offer their own versions of repression.
The Twelve Step approach relies on conscious, deliberate repression by asking a Higher Power to remove the addictive desire.
Whatever your beliefs, asking a Higher Power to remove your desire is the same as asking a Higher Power to repress the desire for you.
Religion's attempt to deliberately repress is similar to Twelve Step's because the addicted person asks the deity he believes in to rid him of his addictive desire. But religion goes one step further. It tends to morally condemn you if you experience a "wrong" desire.
The most popular form of conscious, deliberate repression is promoted by conventional, licensed therapists. Only they don't call it repression. They call it behavior modification.
The idea behind behavior modification is to eliminate temptation. It's based on the notion that certain "triggers" cause you to act addictively. By modifying your behavior to avoid temptation, you supposedly avoid the "triggers."
When Karl felt lonely he would spend hours masturbating with pornography and engaging in phone sex and online sex chats. His conventional, licensed therapist decided that Karl's "triggers" were: a) feelings of loneliness, b) the Internet, and c) the telephone.
Karl was told to: a) schedule social activities for his free time so that he would not have the opportunity to feel lonely, b) get rid of his Internet connection, and c) put call blocking on his phone.
Karl did not want to lose his friends on the Internet who shared his interest in sports. So the therapist agreed that Karl could keep the Internet connection if he used porn-blocking software; a friend Karl trusted was given the password.
Karl scheduled time with volunteer organizations. He also went to singles parties, friends' houses, sporting events, and he joined a dating service.
His schedule was so filled with new activities, it felt like he had a second job. That was fine with him. He wasn't acting sexually addictive; he was meeting new people and he was too busy to feel lonely.
Karl's experience is similar to that of most people who try behavior modification. In the beginning it can work because the excitement of doing new activities can repress old addictive feelings. Then things begin to change.
After months of keeping a schedule the equivalent of two full-time jobs, Karl was exhausted.
He was getting bored with the dating service.
The volunteer organizations were disorganized and there was too much bickering at the meetings.
He saw the same old people at the singles events.
He still felt lonely.
He felt resentful toward his friend who had the password to the porn-blocking software. He also developed a strange attraction to public phone booths.
His therapist told him that his resentment and loneliness were related to traumas in the past that Karl had not yet uncovered. He was told that the public phone booths were "triggers" and that he should avoid places that had too many of them.
Karl dug further into his childhood. He became more depressed and lonely.
Then, on a rainy Friday afternoon, as Karl described it, "something snapped."
Karl didn't know it then, but what snapped was the repression.
He grabbed his credit card, went into a public phone booth and ignited a phone sex binge.
Then he went home, called up his friend and demanded the password. His friend gave it to him.
Karl spent the weekend masturbating, surfing porn sites, and joining online sex chats.
Karl went through what I call "the repression-binge cycle." He repressed for as long as he could. Then he went on a binge to make up for all the repression he suffered.
When Karl told his therapist what he had done, his therapist told Karl to find a Twelve Step group to assist in the therapy. While researching the Twelve Step program, Karl found my website.
Today Karl's addiction is overcome and he is happily married.
You are not a laboratory rat that gets "triggered." You can face any temptation and overcome your addiction.
Because my clients don't rely on behavior modification - they use the Volitional Honesty approach you're learning - they can deal with any tempting situation. A few examples:
Lewis had carried on a hot affair with a co-worker. On his first day attempting to stop his addictive behavior, the co-worker made a pass at him. He felt turned on.
He wanted to remain faithful to his wife, but he was very, very sexually attracted to the other woman.
He didn't repress his sexual attraction. He didn't call for help. He didn't run out of the office. He didn't treat the woman abusively. He politely turned her down and felt wonderful doing it.
Boris opened his e-mail. Suddenly, he was faced with porn spam and he became sexually excited.
He didn't beat himself up for feeling excited. He didn't turn off his computer and leave the room. He didn't get down on his knees and pray. He didn't pop a pill. He let himself experience the addictive desire fully and completely and chose not to act on it. The desire subsided on its own.
Ted used sexually addictive fantasies to get himself aroused so that he could make love with his wife. Using the approach in this ebook, he didn't attempt to repress the fantasies.
Now he makes love with his wife free of addictive fantasies and both of them enjoy their sex life even more.
Chris tried to avoid anything that "triggered" his pedophilic desires. He went to Twelve Step meetings twice a week and he saw a conventional, licensed therapist once a week. Nothing helped.
Then he found my website. He printed out everything on it and read it closely before he called me.
In our first discussion he said, "You mean I don't have to push the thoughts out of my mind?" I told him, "Your attempt to push them out makes it impossible for you face them. The mind needs to experience its own emotions so that they can be coped with."
He dropped his Twelve Step meeting and his conventional, licensed therapist.
I taught him how to experience an addictive desire fully and completely. Then I taught him how to choose whether or not to act on it. Every step of the way he told me, "This is the exact opposite of everything I was told."
Chris no longer lives in terror of acting on pedophilic desires.
He does not repress pedophilic feelings. He does not pray that they be removed. He is not dependent on prescription medication. He does not avoid the Internet.
Walking down the street and seeing an attractive child will occasionally bring on a pedophilic desire. He is not afraid of it. He is in complete control of his actions and feels better letting the desire go unsatisfied.
He is in control and he has the ability to keep that control for the rest of his life.
Before you attempt to overcome sex addiction, you need to identify every possible avoidance and substitution you might resort to. The most common ones for sexually addicted people are:
Increased sex with your partner as a substitute for addictive sex.
Increased activities and projects to keep your mind off sexually addictive desires.
Going to sleep early to avoid late-night sexually addictive desires.
Staying home to avoid being exposed to tempting situations.
Going out to avoid temptation at home.
Eating more food to smother addictive feelings.
Drinking to forget; using drugs to forget.
Later on we'll discuss how to experience an addictive desire fully and completely and how to choose whether or not to act on it.
First, we need to spend a few minutes talking about how to find a competent advisor for those of you who will want help.
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- If you are a man in a relationship troubled by sex addiction, take this interview
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