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porn addiction

Porn Addiction is it real?

Porn Addiction

I received the following message “I’m not sure if my problem would be in your areas of treatment. I am very addicted to masturbation/porn/adultery. I don’t have control of myself. I try to stop but whenever I am left alone at home or in my day off I am just wasting my time into such. I have positive approaches to life and I have many skills, but due to this addiction and feeling guilty about the energy wasted and leading to a waste of my day and weeks and months leaving the unproductive. I’m not sure that my problem is something you can deal with, but maybe you can help me come out and live life in a more productive way.”

Porn addiction has been in the news ever since the Internet made porn available to everyone. I have never been happy with the explanations I have read for porn addiction.

Is porn addictive? Most of the writing about porn addiction assumes that it is real. But can you actually be addicted to porn? And if so, how?

Theories of Porn Addiction

This is an important question, because the type of treatment to offer depends on your theory of why people watch porn. Most assume that because watching porn and masturbating is enjoyable, then it must be like substance abuse. This is a behavioral model. You enjoy porn, and therefore do it more, and build pleasure pathways in your brain. The more you do it, the more want to do it. And that is what your addiction is.

However, there are several models of addiction. I wanted to meet this man and find out why he felt addicted. He turned out to be a young married man with a good job and no obvious reasons to do this. I asked him about his life and quite quickly realized that he was showing signs of depression. He had low self esteem, lack of motivation, no goals, and felt no emotional connection to anyone.

Cause of addiction to porn

He had recently left university so was too young to recognize the cycles in his own behavior. But going over the symptoms showed clearly that he did have depression.

This actually explained his ‘porn addiction’. He wasn’t attracted to porn particularly. He was doing it because it was enjoyable, and took his mind off the depressive thoughts he was having. He was doing porn because he felt he was worthless, and empty and he had no goals in life. So why not? But then his critical voice started up for doing it, and made him feel bad again. Until he did more porn to get away from it.

So it wasn’t so much that he was attracted to porn. It more that he was self medicating with porn. He was trying to use porn to get temporary relief from his negative feelings.

In the session, I helped him see what was really going on. Then I gave him some guidance on how to manage his condition, and how hypnotize himself to reduce his anxiety. Once has learned to manage his depressive tendencies, he won't need the porn to feel better. 

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Automatic Depression Detection

Automatic Depression Detection

Automatic Depression Detection

Depression is probably the most widespread mental illness in the world. It affects millions of people and is a huge burden on the health services. Any sort of automatic depression detection would be a wonderful breakthrough.

The way that people speak can  suggest whether they are in depression or not. But as long as therapists were just taking notes this knowledge was not very useful. Today, there are millions of people on the Internet, on social media, and in chat rooms. They are all exchanging ideas in text. This means that there is a vast body of text, millions upon millions of words, on every possible subject. Scientists are analysing these texts to try to identify depression. The results are quite surprising.

Machine learning for depression

Language has two parts: content and style. Content is what you talk about, style is how you say it. Analyzing content shows that depressed people use a higher proportion of negative words. These are words such as "sad, lonely, unhappy, miserable, can't cope". Depressed people also have a different focus. Automatic depression detection software shows that depressed people talk much more about "I, me, myself" than they do about "they, them, people". It seems that depressed people are more inward focused, on themselves.

Of course, it is not possible to tell which comes first. Does depression cause you to focus inwards, and use the 'I' word. Or does focusing inwards cause depression?

Depressed people also have a different style of speaking. They tend to speak in absolutes. "Everything, nothing, everybody, never". Research is showing that these 'absolutes' are a better indicator of depression than words about negative emotions.

These results are very encouraging. Automatic depression detection is fast, cheap, and appears to be effective. In fact, in many areas of mental health, automatic analysis is proving faster and more accurate than experts in those fields. As more and more text becomes available for analysing, the results will get even more accurate.

 

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Eating is out of control

Eating is out of control

Eating is out of control

My client today was a huge obese woman.  She told me "I can't stop putting on weight. My eating is out of control".   looking after son's kids

She said that she had always battled with weight and issues of control. Right now she feels she is out of control. She said "It got worse six months ago. Before that I had lost 15 kg. Now I have put it all back on again, plus more". This is a common story with people to come to hypnotherapy for weight loss. In my experience, issues with weight are always emotional issues. When you trace it back to the origin it is usually rooted in how the client was treated in childhood. In this case, the issue was emotional, but was actually rooted in the recent past.

Why eating is out of control

Six months ago, one of her children dumped her four children on her because they couldn't cope. Her child and the partner are into drugs and alcohol. They can't cope with life, can't cope with their children, and abandoned them with their grandmother. It was supposed to be for two weeks. But the parents went off and gave everything over to their drug habit.

My client now feels that imposed upon, but cannot do anything about it. She feels that this is so unfair. She brought up her own children, launched them into adulthood, and was looking forward to spending the next 10 years as an indulgent grandma to her grandchildren. And now she's back having a full-time job looking after for young children. She sees no way out of it and no one else in the family is offering to help.

Longing for an empty nest

She is beginning to resent the children and acting grumpy with them.  She cannot sent the children back to their parents. Social security will not take them, because they are not in danger where they are. Her other children reject the parents as losers who need to front up to their responsibilities, and won't help.

There is no way out.  Her expectations of a lovely retirement hasn't happened.  She expected things to be perfect, but it has all turned out wrong. It's all getting too much for her and she sinking into despair.

This a classic case of late onset depression. She has just given up and eats to comfort herself.

How to treat eating is out of control

I talked about how to deal with her depression. The first thing is to recognize that it is not her responsibility. I told her to have some compassion for herself and her situation. She feels guilt over resenting the children, and somehow having failed her own daughter. I am not a counselor, but I suggested various ways that she could seek help. Together we agreed a goal to get these children looked after by someone else within six weeks.

Then to help her get the energy and confidence to reach that goal, I used hypnosis. I took her into trance and did an extended parts metaphor therapy to identify the parts she needed, and to get those parts energized.

Afterwards, she said 'I can find a way forward now. I am not going to put up with this any longer. Thank you."

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avoiding thoughts

Are you just avoiding thoughts?

Avoiding thoughts 

In hypnotherapy, I see many different types of behavior. People often tell me stories about why they behave the way they do. The reasons are usually something that was done to them. They offer this as the excuse for why they behave the way they do, and why they are unable to change their own behavior.

It is a very human tendency to try to find explanations and excuses for your behavior. This is perfectly understandable. However, most people do not really understand what is driving their own behavior.

Rationalizing behavior

I was reminded of this today. I had a client come to see me who felt that she was always thinking of all the worst things that could happen. For example, if her husband was late coming home she would think "I know he's not dead, he's just a bit late, isn't he? I would have heard of that had been an accident". She would catastrophize endlessly about almost anything. Her explanation was because she was the third child of four. She had an elaborate theory of how the first child acted a certain way, and the second child acted a different way, and the third child acted in yet another way. And that was why she was behaving the way she was. In fact, she had an undiagnosed case of depression.

It is not uncommon for people to totally miss the real reason for why they do what they do. In therapy, I am more often interested in what people are not doing, than in what they are doing. I often tell my clients, "every coin has two sides".

Doing something to avoid doing something else

People will tell you for example that there are workaholics, that they have to be at work all the time, that they can't let go of the details. When I hear a story like this I always think to myself "and what are you trying to get away from?" A person who is a workaholic is not attracted to work. There are not simply trying to get a job done. What they are trying to do is to get away from emotional problems they have with their family. Being at work and gives them a reason for not dealing with their own emotional inadequacies. They are avoiding thoughts.

Many years ago I had a client who was a motorcycle racing champion. He told me that when he was a teenager, he would go for long rides on his motorbike. He said that when he was riding, and was coming up to a corner at speed, he had to focus totally on getting round the corner. There was no space in his mind for any other thought. He used the dangers of motorcycling to get his mind clear. It was not that he was attracted to motorcycling, it was the only way he knew to stop the constant nagging in his mind.

Marathon Mind

I also spoke to someone who had been a marathon runner. He told me that one of the attractions of marathon running was that at some point you get so tired that you have to focus totally on just getting through the next mile and the next mile. This forces you to concentrate on just getting one foot in front of the other. And it drives out any unwanted thoughts. The attraction is not the running or the winning. The attraction is having a break from the relentless feeling of emptiness, or doubt, or self-hatred.

I know a bridge player who has something similar. When she is sitting down to play bridge, she has to focus totally on the cards. Every hand is challenging, every hand is difficult and intricate. When she is playing in a tournament there is no space in her  head for any other thoughts. That is why people become bridge addicts.

So think about what you do. Think about your own behaviors. And then think about the other side of the coin. Are you doing something not because you like it, but because it lets you avoid something else?

 

 

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reasons for smoking

Reasons for smoking

Reasons for Smoking

My client yesterday was a middle aged woman who just could not give up smoking. She could not give any reasons for smoking.

I asked if she had ever stopped smoking. She said "I stopped when I got pregnant". I then asked her why she started again. "About a year ago. A friend offered me a cigarette, and said it might help, so I took it. And then it was a case of another one, and then two, and then very quickly I was back smoking again."

I asked what else was going on in her life at that time. She said "I discovered that my husband was having an affair with my best friend."

The real reasons for smoking

It seems strange to me that someone would blame starting smoking again because a friend suggested that it might help them, and totally ignoring the fact that their life had fallen apart around them. It is a peculiar kind of blindness that seems to affect people who start smoking again. They will blame the smallest thing, and completely ignore overwhelming emotional changes.

It is also strange that even after years of not smoking, people can believe that smoking will help them. I have had many clients who told me "I took the first cigarette. It tasted horrible. I felt sick and dizzy. But I kept on with it, until I had started again."

I asked "how did you feel when you stop smoking when you were pregnant?" She said, "I felt that I had to quit, and I resented it. Even though I stopped for 11 years I still resented being made to stop. Especially at the beginning of the pregnancy when my husband did not stop smoking but I had to. I hate it when I cannot do what I want and other people make me do things."

And there was the real reason for smoking. It was also the best indicator of how to go about helping her stop smoking again.

 

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past life regression hypnotherapy

Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

A client booked in with me writing "I would like to have a past life regression hypnosis. I feel a bit unhappy, like I am not fulfilling my purpose. I feel a bit lost." Past life regression hypnotherapy requests are fairly common but I always wonder what prompts the client to ask for one.

The client was a young primary teacher. She told me "I feel totally confused about my feelings, and my own life. I was going to resign my job because I couldn't really understand how I was feeling. My friends tell me it must be something I did in a past life."

Different assumptions

It became obvious fairly quickly that she really was not in touch with their own feelings. I gave her the dysthymia questionnaire. She identified with most of the areas, particularly with circular thinking. We discussed how rumination was affecting her. On looking at the the other aspects of dysthymia,  it became clear that she also has black and white thinking. This is defined by high expectations and distress at not achieving them. The rumination and failed expectations were driving her  lack of feeling, of disconnection.

It had never occurred to her that she had depression, despite the fact that her sister has depression, and her mother shows every sign of it as well.

I outlined what she has to do to fix her own depression, emphasizing exercise, but not going into detail or suggesting that she should come back.

We agreed that all of her symptoms were consistent with depression, and there was no point in doing past life regression.

There was not a lot of time left, so I had to do something fairly quick to end the session.

Metaphor therapy

She came to my office convinced there was something hidden inside that was making her act and  feel this way. So I decided to use metaphor therapy to clear that thing. I did a short induction. I suggested there was something lodged in her unconscious mind. Her own mind searched for it, found it, and ripped it out. Then it turned to liquid and drained out through her feet.

She was one of those clients who do a lot of moving in trance. I was concerned that she was not deep enough, so I deepened her by going down some steps into a garden. I didn't know what to do next. So I just let my unconscious mind take over. I noticed a potted plant on my windowsill. So I took her to a large glass house. The glasshouse was hot and steamy and everything was growing. I led her to a bench where there was a flower pot with rich earth in it.

Grow your answer Therapy 

There was a packet with her name on it. She felt it, and it appeared to have a seed inside. There was a sign that said 'open me'. I got her to plant the seed. Then someone appeared and said "I have been waiting for you to plant that seed. Now I will look after it for you. The seed will grow into a plant with many beneficial properties. It will continue to grow throughout your life. Who who knows what it will produce?".

I then got her to go outside and had her sit on a bench. She fell asleep on the bench and began to dream of a woman sitting on a bench. She dreamed of a woman sitting on a bench dreaming about a woman sitting on a bench and hearing these words. I continued with the multiple levels of dissociation until even I got lost in it.  This could be a good way of doing multiple embedded metaphors?

Feedback on this Past Life Regression Hypnotherapy

I was a little concerned that she had not really been in trance, due to the amount of wriggling around that she did. So I asked her what she remembered about the hidden object. She said it was that one of those things that suck blood, a leech. So, I was happy that she actually had been utilizing her own unconscious mind.

At then, at the end, saying goodbye, she said "and I really liked the whole plant thing, and this thing growing".

What I learned from this is that it is quite amazing how people can misinterpret their own symptoms. This woman was being encouraged to go down the path of New Age spirituality, and who knows where it might have led her. She just did not recognize the source of her own problems.

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