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Teens, Digital Devices, and Sexual Problems

Understanding Porn Addicts: An Interview with Noah Church (Part 3)

Noah Church is a well-known speaker on issues related to porn addiction and the author of Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn, an educational look at how internet porn affects its users. Additionally, he has created the website, Addicted to Internet Porn. On that site he has compiled information learned from his own and others’ experiences with digital pornography—articles, videos, and more. He also offers one-to-one coaching for those who are struggling. Recently, Noah was a guest on my Sex, Love, & Addiction 101 podcast. I found our discussion so fascinating that I wanted to also present a Q&A with Noah here.

This is the third and final segment in this interview. In Part 1, Noah and I discussed his pre-recovery experience with porn addiction—how it started, how it escalated, the sexual dysfunction he experienced, and other consequences. In Part 2, we discussed his journey into recovery. Here, in Part 3, we discuss the various porn-abusing populations we see in our work, and Noah’s work as a speaker and coach.

In Part 1 of this interview, you mentioned that you were interested in sex at an early age, and that somewhere around 9 or 10 you started searching online for sexualized imagery. I’m wondering if there was some sexual abuse that may have sparked this interest, or if you were just a kid who decided to explore.

The answer to your questions about sexual abuse is pretty easy. It’s no. I had a great family growing up, a very healthy and happy childhood aside from my problems with pornography. I wasn’t abused in any way, sexual or otherwise.

I think a lot of people say they really didn’t develop a sex drive until around puberty, but that they began noticing people they were attracted to before that. I guess that’s how I was. For me, physical attractions were always a present part of my life. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t masturbate or fantasize about women or girls. I just had that idea in my head. So I decided to maybe search for some pictures online.

From there, it became an addiction, but not rooted in any specific trauma. For me it’s more related to the easy and unlimited availability of that content from such an early age.

That’s one of the reasons I wanted to ask that question. I’ve talked with a lot of other therapists who deal with sexual issues and most of us are seeing two distinct porn-using populations. First, there is the typical trauma-based, trauma-driven addict. And then there is the addict who found porn early and got hooked but doesn’t have any of the trauma we’ve historically seen in addicts. The consequences are pretty much the same, but the path to healing can be a little different (once sobriety is established) because the underlying causes are so different.

Yeah, I think you’re correct. I didn’t have the trauma, and my porn use never completely isolated me. I had friends. I had girlfriends. But still, it definitely stole my ability to enjoy sex and intimacy. And that in itself was a trauma. It bothered me for a long time and it caused me a lot of pain. But it’s not what led me to use porn in the beginning, or even to use it compulsively.

After you got sober you turned your focus toward helping others as well as yourself.

Yeah, at the beginning I didn’t really know what it would turn into. I just felt a really strong drive to help guys out there who were struggling with similar things. Because the worst part of the entire experience, for me, was when I was 18 and looking for answers and not finding anything. I didn’t want others who were experiencing these things to have that same experience.

I decided I wanted to share the information I’d learned in whatever way I could. I started by writing my book, Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn. Then I started a YouTube channel so I could talk about my experiences, and I also started answering people’s questions both publicly and anonymously. Eventually that turned into AddictedToInternetPorn.com, where I write articles and make videos and podcasts and such that I release for free, and where I do my coaching practice. So anyone who wants to get some personal guidance can work with me one-on-one in paid sessions.

Before we wrap up, in a general way, what would you like to say to the people out there who are struggling with porn addiction.

Well, for those who are struggling, I would like to say you are not alone. No matter how weird or isolated you feel, there are many people out there with very similar experiences. And it’s just not something that we talk about in the real world very often. We don’t go around wearing a T-shirt that says “Hey, I’m a porn addict. I can’t function sexually in the bedroom.” But there are a lot of us out there who have those experiences. And there’s absolutely a path to recovery. It absolutely can be better for you.

You can leave porn behind. You can heal from, and reverse, many of the symptoms that chronic porn use can cause in us, including sexual dysfunction. Porn doesn’t always have to be something that nags at you day in and day out, something that you have to battle inexhaustibly throughout the rest of your life. Life does get better.

That said, you might always, at times of vulnerability, feel that urge, or have that temptation to look at porn. But the longer you stay away from pornography, the more that you distance yourself from that compulsive behavior, the easier it gets.

I also want to say that porn addiction is not just a men’s problem, because we tend to have that misconception. More and more now, especially because of how easily available it is, women are developing the same sorts of addictive tendencies as men with their porn use. And they’re also experiencing sexual dysfunction—not being able to enjoy sex or reach orgasm with a partner, or needing pornography, vibrators, and such to have an orgasm.

If you are out there and one of these women, know that you are not alone. There are lots of women out there who have fallen into the addictive cycle. And it’s the same for women as for men: You can reverse these things that have happened to you. You can leave pornography behind and get back the sort of sexuality and relationships that you desire.

Understanding Porn Addicts: An Interview with Noah Church (Part 3)

Robert Weiss PhD, MSW

Robert Weiss PhD, MSW, CEO of Seeking Integrity LLC, is a digital-age sex, intimacy, and relationship specialist. Dr. Weiss has spent more than 25 years developing treatment programs, educating clinicians, writing, and providing direct care to those challenged by digital-age infidelity, sexual addiction/compulsivity, and other addictive disorders. He is the author of several highly regarded books on sex and intimacy disorders including Prodependence, Out of the Doghouse, Sex Addiction 101, and Cruise Control, among others. He also podcasts (Sex, Love, & Addiction 101) and hosts a free, weekly interactive sex and intimacy webinar via SexandRelationshipHealing.com. His current projects are: • SexandRelationshipHealing.com, an extensive online resource for recovery from sex and intimacy disorders. • Seeking Integrity Los Angeles, an Integrated Intensive Program for Sex and Intimacy Disorders (Opening in Feb, 2019). For more information or to reach Dr. Weiss, please visit his websites, RobertWeissMSW.com and SexandRelationshipHealing.com, or follow him on Twitter (@RobWeissMSW), LinkedIn (Robert Weiss LCSW), and Facebook (Rob Weiss MSW).


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APA Reference
Weiss PhD, R. (2018). Understanding Porn Addicts: An Interview with Noah Church (Part 3). Psych Central. Retrieved on December 16, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex/2018/11/understanding-porn-addicts-an-interview-with-noah-church-part-3/

 

Last updated: 26 Nov 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Nov 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.