The pornography problem: prayer isn’t enough

The public is becoming increasingly aware that pornography addiction is a real problem for many men and women in our culture—and Catholics are no exception.

Yet as Catholics, our first thought may be to try to eradicate any sinful behavior with some good old-fashioned perseverance and, of course, grace from the Sacrament of Confession.

I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Peter Kleponis, a clinician who also is the Senior Advisor for Educational and Clinical Programs for Integrity Restored, who has helped many men and women in their healing journey breaking free from porn. He told me about why, most of the time, perseverance and grace are important, but they aren’t enough to break free from pornography use.

First of all, do all porn users automatically need professional help? In other words, when does a porn user become an addict? Does it parallel drug addiction?

Not everyone who struggles with pornography use is an addict. Just as a person can have an alcohol problem and not be an alcoholic, so can a person have a pornography problem and not be a porn addict. Dr. Patrick Carnes (2007) notes 10 characteristics of problematic online sexual behavior:

  1. Preoccupation with sex on the Internet
  2. Frequently engaging in sex on the Internet more often or for longer periods of time than intended
  3. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back on, or stop engaging in sex on the Internet
  4. Restlessness or irritability when attempting to limit or stop engaging in sex on the Internet
  5. Using cybersex on the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or relieving feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
  6. Returning to sex on the Internet day after day in search of a more intense or higher-risk sexual experience
  7. Lying to family members, therapists, or others to conceal involvement with sex on the internet
  8. Committing illegal sexual acts online (for example, sending or downloading child pornography or soliciting illegal sex acts online)
  9. Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of online sexual behavior
  10. Incurring significant financial consequences as a result of engaging in online sexual behavior Continue reading
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