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  • Writer's pictureJake Kastleman

The 4 Root Causes of Porn Addiction



man hiking in the forest standing over tree roots

Do you find yourself constantly asking, “Why do I struggle with porn addiction?” Or, ”Why is my spouse / child addicted to porn?” 


There are a lot of messages out there that will tell you porn addiction is about sexual urges. It’s about having a high libido. It’s about a desire for sex that isn’t being fulfilled. If a man wants porn then it’s his spouse’s responsibility to make sure he’s satisfied, and if he’s satisfied then he won’t want porn. 


Let me tell you something. That’s a bunch of BS. 


While natural sexual feelings do play a role in the desire for porn, porn addiction is not about sexual urges. It’s not about high libido. And it sure as heck isn’t about an addict’s spouse not “delivering the goods.”


And I know that’s hard to hear, and the human brain and biology can be VERY convincing. It will tell you that you crave porn because you want sex and if you can juuuust get that craving filled in just the right way then you won’t want porn anymore. 


Let me tell you something else. A vast majority of the people I work with are married… 


And let me tell you something else, else. If I had a dime for every time someone has said “I just thought once I got married that all this would go away. I thought once I got married, I wouldn’t need porn anymore.” And that’s not how it works. 


Why? 


Today we’re going to talk about what actually causes porn addiction. Specifically we’ll talk about the 4 root causes of porn addiction. Why we develop a porn addiction, what keeps us hooked, and how to overcome porn addiction


What You Need to Know About Porn Addiction

Before we dive into those 4 root causes of porn addiction, I want to lay some groundwork - to bring up a couple of fundamental truths about porn addiction - so that these 4 root causes make more sense. 


Porn Addiction is a symptom. It is well understood at this point that we develop an addiction (any addiction) as a way to cope with underlying mental/emotional suffering. We have different reasons that we choose one addiction or another - it could be drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, food, codependence, shopping, money, being a workaholic - you name it, we can get addicted to it. But fundamentally, addiction is a symptom. We may have a unique “drug of choice”, but ultimately we use an addiction as a way to escape or try to control the pain we feel inside. 


Happy People Don’t Become Addicted to Porn. And I’m not saying you can’t experience happiness while you struggle with an addiction, nor am I saying there aren’t great people who struggle with porn behind the scenes - I work with them every day! But, that said, people who are truly fulfilled, love their life, and feel overall satisfied with their relationships, their career, their leisure time, they feel confident, they feel excited…they don’t typically become addicted. 


A lot of us carry wounds around with us from childhood right? And often these wounds follow us into adulthood and we attempt to numb ourselves to them - these feelings of insecurity, pain, and lack of self-worth with addiction. Porn addiction is no different. 


So, if someone grows up in a stable home, with loving parents, they are caught up in meaningful activities, they spend their days doing uplifting things, they feel important - it’s pretty rare for them to develop an addiction. 


There’s always SOMETHING going on underneath the surface that is driving the addiction. What is the pain we are trying to escape or numb ourselves to? 


This is the question we need to ask ourselves - whether we have an addiction or our loved one does. What pain are we or they trying to hide and escape from? What stresses, relationships, hard situations, negative self-talk or perspectives, self-defeating thoughts or beliefs, anxiety, depression…what are we attempting to numb? 


This is true for all addictions, including addiction to porn and masturbation. While porn and masturbation might have a biological component - something that we innately desire and are drawn to as human beings - it is still a coping mechanism to handle uncomfortable, difficult feelings. 


As is the case with food addiction. We need food every single day, and we naturally desire it. Food addiction and porn addiction are similar in this way. 


I hope that makes sense. With those things understood, let’s dive into the 4 Roots of Porn Addiction. 


The 4 Root Causes of Porn Addiction

Today, I want to help you get to the roots of your porn addiction. And when I say your I mean your personal pains and challenges that you’re struggling with that this part of your brain is attempting to escape and numb itself to. 


And notice I say this part of your brain - because it doesn’t define you. This proneness towards addiction is not you - it is just an aspect of you that has taken control and is attempting to protect you using this addiction. It may not be doing a great job, but it is trying very hard to help you out, and it deserves some appreciation and compassion, and then some redirection down a new path. - you know, “thanks for trying to help me out. I see you deal with a lot of pain - this part of me - and we can start choosing some other things in order to feel peace and wellness, because this hasn’t been working.” 


1: Root Cause of Porn Addiction

The first root cause of porn addiction is your mindset. Or, more specifically your thought patterns and beliefs. 


The mental habits that drive porn addiction are going to be negative thought patterns and beliefs. Why? Because negative thoughts and beliefs evolve into cravings - as a way of hiding from these painful thoughts and beliefs (it’s a little more complex than that, but that will do for this article). And then those cravings evolve into addiction over time as they stack on top of each other and as we develop a long-term habit for dealing with internal pain. 


So, I want you to think back to a time that you relapsed or had a slip with porn. What was your mindset like that day? Were you feeling super chipper - happy? Were you on cloud nine and having the time of your life? Probably not. 


You were probably facing some kind of stress and negativity. There were probably some insecurities or feelings of shame or unworthiness that you were feeling. These feelings drove you to craving which drove you to act out. 


And of course, many of my clients - and I experienced this during my own decade addicted to porn - talk about how sometimes on really good days they still relapse. In fact, on some of the best days they do. And that gets into the nature of addiction being a habit, as well as some self-sabotaging tendencies - the belief that we’re not worthy of good things and so therefore we should go and mess it up by engaging with our addiction? There’s more to it, but that’s sufficient for now. 


2: Root Cause of Porn Addiction

The second root cause of porn addiction is disconnection. Specifically disconnection from others, from God, and from our true selves - or what I like to call “the light of God within” - this eternal consciousness that transcends our temporary physical body and brain. 


I love the quote “The opposite of addiction is connection.” I think it’s absolutely spot on. Because the addictive mindset I was telling you a little bit about - really only scratching the surface as I get much, much deeper and more specific with my clients in the No More Desire Intensive Program - but this mindset really drives disconnection. 


The more negative we feel inside the more distant we feel from God and others. And the more distant we feel from God and others, the more negative we feel inside. Which is a horrendous cycle that really just drives and drives addiction day after day. We feel unworthy, therefore we isolate from other people and from God. And by isolating ourselves, we feel more unworthy. 


When we have quality, loving, connected relationships our chance of addiction goes way, way down. And I don’t just mean people we have fun with - I mean people we REALLY connect with. As in, we mutually talk about the hardships and failures we’re going through in life, and the big wins we’re experiencing - and those failures and wins are accepted and respected, and we are given space. And this needs to come on both sides. 


I am also talking about relationships in which we sacrifice for each other - and that sacrifice is mutual. We’re constantly serving each other, looking out for each other, and helping each other.


In addition, we have trust for each other. 


Now, if you don’t have these connections, and you know you need them - especially to get sober - what do you do? 


You become the family member or friend that you wish you had in others. You become the person that accepts, understands, and encourages those around you. You become a person that others feel safe talking to about their problems and their failures. You become a person that others look to as someone they can count on and ask for help. 


And then, you open yourself up to these relationships, and if you believe in God you pray that He will guide you to people who you can make a difference for and who will make a difference for you. 


Things like anxiety, depression, perfectionism and porn addiction can make it hard to reach out and establish these connections, but the more you practice - and the more you improve other parts of your life holistically - the easier and more natural it will become over time. So have faith and lean into the awkward!


3: Root Cause of Porn Addiction

The third root cause of porn addiction is physical imbalances. This includes both your genetics and your biological well-being - in other words your nutrition and exercise


And you may be saying, “Well yeah, I understand the genetics part - genes impact addiction, of course. But, Jake, how does my nutrition and exercise impact my addiction to porn?” 


The blunt to this is fairly simple. Crap in crap out. 


If you physically feel low energy, unwell, or unhealthy you will be far more prone to addiction cravings. 


One of the greatest mistakes I think we’ve made in Western Psychology is separating the brain from the body. This goes way back to Descartes in the 1600’s and his philosophy that the mind and body were separate from one another, and we’ve carried this ideology with us and added upon it. 


What we’ve come to understand now - and what is starting to be accepted in multiple academic circles - is that the brain and body are one. The wellness of one directly impacts the wellness of the other. This has become especially obvious with the discovery of the gut microbiome and its interplay with mental health - which we don’t have time to go into here. But you can check out my episode How What You Eat Impacts Addiction if you want to learn more about that. 


4: Root Cause of Porn Addiction

The fourth root cause of porn addiction is what I call “pleasure conditioning”. 


The concept for this is pretty simple, but often hard for us to recognize - and that’s that the pastimes, hobbies, interests, entertainment, and activities we choose everyday impact how susceptible we are to porn addiction.


Porn addiction is a self-centered, low-effort, high-pleasure activity. It sounds harsh - and I’m not calling anyone who watches porn self-centered - but the activity of watching porn is inherently all of these things. 


Think about it. Who are you benefitting when you watch porn? What relationship are you nurturing? What difference are you making for others? How are you advancing as an individual? 


In addition, think about how often in real life you can see endless perfect, naked bodies without any interaction with a human being whatsoever. 


This doesn’t happen. Never in real life do you have your pick of whatever woman you want in a moment, without any effort on your part. 


Porn is an isolated, unfulfilling, degrading, and neurologically damaging activity. It trains our brain to expect pleasure to come easily, and it teaches us that sex is separate from love, sacrifice, and a meaningful relationship. 


So, what do I mean when I say “pleasure conditioning?” I mean that our brain becomes “conditioned” to whatever pleasure we feed it, and it builds an expectation and habit surrounding that pleasure. 


The more self-centered, low-effort, high-pleasure activities we engage in, the more our brain will become used to them and expect more of them. 


So, the more time we spend on TV, video games, social media, junk food, drinking, meaningless sex, etc. the more our brain will become conditioned to wanting pleasure that comes easily and is highly stimulating. In other words, the more we will be aligned with the kind of mindset that desires porn. 


To learn more about this, you can check out my article on The Porn Addiction Funnel or my episode on Pleasure Conditioning


Break Free of Porn Addiction For Good

What have you tried so far to quit porn? Internet filters, accountability buddies, talk therapy, church or religious programs… Many of these have merit, but they are often missing key elements for long-lasting sobriety. 


It isn’t enough to just “stop watching porn”. Addiction is a symptom of deeper, underlying challenges. The No More Desire Intensive Porn Addiction Recovery Program addresses these challenges by guiding you through each step to build a recovery mindset and a recovery lifestyle. This is done using hands-on, daily exercises that retrain the brain and forge new habits that last a lifetime. Once this recovery mindset and lifestyle are established, the desire for porn naturally fades. 


To talk to a professional who has 1st-hand experience recovering from porn addiction, set up a Free Evaluation Call with me where I’ll get to know your story and help you discover the roots of your porn addiction and what’s actually driving your cravings for porn. I’ll also answer all of the questions you have about the program, no strings attached. Set up your FREE Evaluation call now.



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