PTSD Spirituality: PTSD Encourages Adultery, Porn, Infidelity, Promiscuity, other Addictive Behaviors

Pornography and PTSD go together.  As a professor and scholar I want to couch my words to be more precise and say, pornography and PTSD “seem” to go together.    Maybe I should wait around for a new study by sociologists to say it with a sense of mathematical definitiveness.  Yet as a working theologian, a veteran with PTSD, a spiritual director, and a father, I am more and more convinced of the link between PTSD and pornography.  Terri Barnes in a recent issue of Stars and Stripes even addresses the PTSD and pornography connection and spousal concerns.  In fact, the PTSD-Identity, the behaviors that PTSD inflicts on our souls and our relationships, leads to porn addiction and promiscuity – and ironically, even more PTSD. 

Multiple Vectors Point Indicate that PTSD Leads to Porn, Infidelity, Porn, Promiscuity, and Addictions.

How can I say this with such confidence?  Lots of reasons!

      –   The more I study the spiritual dimensions of PTSD

     –   The more I read about and listen to the pleas for help from spouses and loved ones about someone’s PTSD and porn.

     –   Based on my own PTSD-Identity, especially in my 20s.

     –   Based on interaction with other PTSD ridden soldiers, sailors, and marines.

     –   Based on my experience as a Roman Catholic spiritual director and learning from other human beings how their reactions to trauma can devour other people’s souls.

 The more I know this is true.  So with all due apologies to my colleagues in sociology, I’ll just state it bluntly: PTSD and Porn, Infidelity, Promiscuity, and Addictive Behaviors are connected.

 Self-Medicating with Sinful Behaviors

To this end, I am working on addressing the issue of PTSD enhanced Promiscuity, Adultery, Infidelity, and Pornography Addiction.  Each of these behaviors are encouraged by the PTSD-Identity.  They reinforce one another.  Each of them is a form of self-medication to attempt to overcome PTSD imposed loneliness and isolation.  Each of them results from the PTSD-Identity crushing our sense of self-worth or esteem.

There is always so much to write about concerning the spiritual dimensions of PTSD.  At the same time it can be challenging to prioritize topics.  As this is an area that tears apart families and leads to spin-off PTSD and suicides, it is a subject that demands our attention.

 These Addictions Can Be Healed and We Can be Restored

While these addictions and PTSD behaviors are awful, they can be defeated.  Sometimes, infrequently, too much damage may have been done to go back into a family the way it used to be.  But, there can still be forgiveness and healing and hope.  While the PTSD afflicted soul is under constant attack to go and do the wrong thing, the person can still recover.  Never forget that there is always hope.  You have value.  Never give up.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Comments

  1. I recently read a blog about infedelity and PTSD, it points to the adrenaline rush. I agree to an extent. It even mentioned vets wanting to be caught because the adrenaline rush was even more. Here is the problem I have with that, the spouse is a human being with thoughts, feelings, emotions! This now becomes very personal and painful to another human who only is trying to be loving and supportive and caring. Trust is gone. The spouse is replaced by a hyper vigilant detective with flashbacks, and an extreme low self esteem! So intelligently, the spouse can seperate the actions and blame PTSD. Emotionally, there is no erasing the infidelity. Is PTSD a crutch? I believe it’s real. But this is the same thing civilian married couples go through every day! Which in my case, leaves me feeling even more confused. If you treat it like everyday infidelity, then you are uncaring and unsupportive. If you chalk it up to PTSD and try to move past it, isn’t that just saying “you are free to do whatever you want”, here’s your pass. I’m just pretty sure it’s a no win situation.

  2. I too am a spouse of a veteran with PTSD, and TBIs. These problems mentioned adultery, porn, etc. have effected our relationship to the point of divorce after 20 years of marraige. As you said, I have forgiven. I have tried to forget, and the problem has only gotten worse, more frequent, I have struggled with when is enough enough? He used to be regretful and remorseful about it, and I could forgive. Now there is no regret, no apologies, no promise to change. I understand why, but I have a heart, feelings, emotions, how can anyone be expected to not be effected? I hope someday the “military” and va learn that following a deployment, a diagnoses with PTSD, they should envolve spouses and families in therapy, counseling etc. it’s outrageous that isn’t the case. I go to counseling our children go to counseling, and when he goes, he says he is fine, everything is fine at home, an that’s it! I dare not ever say anything to his chain of command, anyone in the medical field for fear of damaging his career! They tell families that they are so important pre-deployment, during deployment, to keep soldier going strong. They return him to us as a different person, and we have to suffer and try to pick up the mess! It’s shameful.

    • Hello, Your summation of “It’s shameful” is just how I and many others feel about the military’s and the VA’s lack of authentic family support and soldier care. While I hear more nice words these days from the military about cutting down the rates of suicides and treating PTSD, I don’t see this penetrating the command structures and changing ther command climate on the ground where service members actually function and work. At times, I feel as if the reason the military has started to act on the abundance of suicides is out of embarrasment, and not out of a sense of soldier-care.

      The question of forgiveness and how often do we keep on forgiving is a hard one. Since we are individuals we may find that we are capable of more or less forgiveness than someone else. But, regardless of how often we feel we can forgive, we need to remember that forgiveness does not mean approval of the dehumanizing sinful conduct of pornography. For example, we can forgive a murderer, but that does not mean we will let that person out of jail. Forgiveness does not mean enabling or passive acceptance of sinful behavior.

      PTSD throws out a lot of metaphorical shrapnel that hits spouses, parents, kids, you name it. One must determine when the risk is too great to stay. It is a horribly hard decision. If we lessen or cut our ties to that person to preserve our own well-being and that of others, such as children, we can still love and forgive from a distance. This is always so hard to figure out: when to keep holding and hoping on, versus, when is it time to let go and quit getting smacked with PTSD shrapnel.

      I am glad that you able to get some family counselling. That can be hit or miss, but it is useful to endeavor on that journey. More and more I am suggesting to military spouses that they find another military spouse they can talk to, tell the truth to. Being able to talk it out, even if over and over again, is helpful. Writing in your journal is helpful. Talking to God is helpful, even if it is only to cry out your sense of helplessness.

      The spousal PTSD journey is often just as hard as the primary trauma survivor’s PTSD journey. There is no silver bullet to PTSD and pornography problems. If one can get them to talk about and/or write about what they feel or what they are trying to stop feeling, then there is a chance of progress. I have seen instances, in my capacity as a spiritual director, where men have been able to get off porn and re-focus on their families. Love and communication play crucial roles, but there is never a guarantee (I wish there were). I will keep you and your family in prayer. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  3. As a wife to a soldier with PTSD how do we learn to cope with it? How does the family learn to deal and react to it?

    • The spouses of those who suffer from PTSD have their own unique suffering as well. I am soon off to school but hope to give you a fuller response today or tomorrow. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

    • Hello Again, You deserve a better answer than I am physically able to give at the present moment. I’ve a three day weekend coming up and will endeavor to provide a fuller response for you. The question of PTSD spouses is an important one and I would like to do it some degree of justice. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  4. roger raney says:

    As a civilian who has not served in the military, but I have faced trauma from family members as well as from my spouse and some time ago,I was in a car accident in 2005. Flashbacks,nightmares as well as daymares and a increase in porn substance (Internet porn).
    The car accident put me in a coma for 12hrs, the signs were not immediate, but over time I noticed increses in my sexual appetite(sex with my wife and when I didn’t get it that way,I would pursue Internet porn. Please help me, thank you

    • Hello, As a civilian who survived trauma you are just as susceptible as any military person to contract PTSD. I intend to write and post an essay about what you asked in your comment in the next day or two (I have to think it through and write it around my teaching times). Meanwhile, know that you (and your wife) have very real value. Know that God loves you. The terrible times you are going through now do not have to be permanent. I will keep you in prayer. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  5. Addictive behaviors? Oh yes, I see it all the time with my own PTSD-type symptoms. When the PTSD is triggered, the craving to engage in a little self-destruction returns full force. The only remedy, for me, is prayer, prayer, prayer and helping others.
    Queta

    • Hi Queta, Thankfully, we can always recover from our behaviors. While it takes a lot of work, the PTSD behaviors don’t have to control us. If we can be aware of them, then we can strive towards forgiving ourselves and others. PTSD sufferers often feel trapped in negative behaviors, but we have real Hope to break out of them. One of the first things we do is become aware and then realize it is a hard day by day journey as we become the person we want to be and not the person PTSD wants us to be trapped in. Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment! Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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