PTSD Spirituality: Does Porn Relieve PTSD Symptoms?

A question came across my desk the other day: Does porn relieve PTSD symptoms?  What’s nice about this question is its straight forwardness.  Often one has to beat around the bush to finally get someone, usually male, to frame (and admit) the questions of PTSD symptoms and its relationship to pornography.  Does porn relieve PTSD symptoms or make them worse?  Should we try to self-medicate with porn?

Using pornography is a common attempt to satisfy the demands and symptoms caused by the PTSD-Identity.  One makes small and then longer and more frequent dips into the available pool of pornography.  We hope it will numb the physical pain, the emotional pain, and maybe just help us not feel for a while.

Short Term Results of Self-Medicating with Porn

The short term results of self-medicating with a porn dip can be categorized into two sets of possible results.  The first set is prominent in the early stages of porn use.  The second set kicks in and erases the first set once the person has begun to lose choice and free will in deciding if the will consume porn or not.  More accurately, they thought they were porn consumers and discover that they are the ones being devoured.

Short Term Result Set #1

A workable analogy would be to compare an alcoholic’s need for a drink to a PTSD person’s use of pornography to deal with their respective symptoms.  The alcoholic figures that by having another drink, especially first thing in the morning (or whenever stress raises its ugly head, or when they have to be responsible for something, or they need to sleep, or when (fill in the blank)), they won’t have as bad a case of jitters and withdrawal.  The extra drink seems to help, sometimes, not always, but they don’t really have a choice…they may have to do it, they are already programmed.

The PTSD afflicted person may engage in some additional porn to try and deal with symptoms of needing to feel alive, prevent loneliness, a sense of worthlessness, or just being revved up so much that they hope to expend the energy and exhaust themselves.  The porn-induced orgasm may allow them to finally get an hour or two of sleep.

The alcoholic’s extra shot of whisky, some wine, or a few beers, to help put off the alcoholic jitters…one sometimes hears the phrase, “Just a little something to get set up in the morning,” as they reach for the bottle … is not unlike the PTSD-Identity’s morning shot of porn in order to “get set up for the day.”  Later on there might be the mid-day shot of porn, and then, of course, a few shots of porn to be able to get a sound sleep (They may eventually lose several hours a day to this process).

The alcoholic’s extra dip into the sauce continues to corrode their liver and their relationships (not to mention their pocketbook!).  The PTSD-afflicted person dips into another shot of porn; it’s a chunk of smack that further corrodes his soul, his relationships (and maybe

At this stage one might delude themselves into thinking they are viewing porn for visual and audio pleasure and not PTSD symptom relief.  It’s one of the lies we tell ourselves when we have a behavior we think we can quit at any time we choose – but can’t.

For some folks, new to PTSD and its constellation of soul wounding symptoms, early porn use may feel like it helps release tension, anger, or worthlessness.  I am honest enough to admit that in the immediate short-run, one may feel some relief from some PTSD symptoms.

But here’s the catch…short-run use and perceived benefit just gets us deeper into long-run, no relief, porn usage and possibly addiction.  That forms the second result set; a series of moments that corrode our identity and alienates us from our loved ones and perhaps even our own life.

Result Set #2

Clinical Porn Addiction? There is debate about if it is a “clinically defined addiction” or not – maybe it is merely a “compulsion.”  But I certainly have met people who have discovered they cannot stop viewing porn on the strength of their own will.

For the male of the species, pornography will usually end in masturbation or some sexual act: paid, voluntarily, forced, or some step in between. If it does not end in one of those venues, then it ends in extreme physical frustration which will retrograde into anger and crankiness.

One may experience some relief from the tension symptoms induced by the PTSD-Identity through pornography – in the short-term.  In the medium to longer term, the symptoms will become worse and the pornography will not soothe the pain.  One gets to experience a whole new kind of disappointment that has to do with habitual sin (Egads!  The theologian strikes!).

With habitual sin, one discovers that the pleasure/joy/relief they got from something immoral and self-degradating has vanished.  They no longer get relief; they no longer get the rush, the high, the moment of a blind sense of self-worth.

In order to try and get the same amount of Porn-Induced-Pizazz our victim feels they need to resolve the symptoms of their PTSD soul wounds, they have to do more porn, longer duration, more diversity/perversity.   The soul-wounded person discovers they do more porn but get fewer thrills.  They start to explore weirder and weirder sorts of porn, sometimes shifting from legal topic to illegal topics such as children.

The more we get hooked on a negative or sinful behavior, the more it lets us down.  We need more, we get less, and PTSD laughs.

Long Term Results of Self-Medicating with Porn

This cycle of doing more porn and getting fewer thrills tears at us and actually makes our PTSD symptoms worse than what they were before.  Once we realize that the equation has shifted our self-worth it further damaged.

Interviews with men addicted to child pornography indicate they started on “normal” porn, but then it failed to provide its former thrill.  So they moved on to harder and more perverse material…until someone turned them in for the reward.

As our relationships and dignity are corroded, like an alcoholic’s liver, we become more isolated from our own selves and from those who care for us.  This causes the PTSD Isolation Spiral to gain momentum until we are absolutely alone and killing ourselves seems like just one reasonable option that day: should I have strawberry pop tarts or do I off myself?  Flip a coin. (PTSD wants to make suicide feel reasonable, as if it were no different than having a strawberry pop tart).

Long Term Result #1

At best one can only hope for isolation from loved ones, either physical and/or emotionally and spiritually.  This is a future of preventing relationships from fully growing and intertwining in love and understanding for one another.

Sneaking around to dip into porn, hoping the kids don’t know…they will.

Becoming a stranger in one’s own house, estranged from loved ones, we can become a casualty of porn that is not physically dead…yet.

Long Term Result #2

The goal of PTSD is to kill you, preferably by your own hand.  Sometimes we do suicide by cop, or mix too many medications with alcohol, or engage in thrill seeking behaviors that really are a quiet hope to die in an accident.

If you die, PTSD wins.  Can’t have that, you are more important than that!  You have value!  You are more than your PTSD symptoms!

So What Does Self-Medicating with Porn Do for PTSD?

It leads to self-deception, tarnishing relationships, separates people who should be together, confuses parents, confuses children, and devastates our spouse.

  • PTSD wants us dead.
  • PTSD uses porn to destroy our self-worth.
  • PTSD wants us to piss off those who love and trusted us so they will leave us.
  • PTSD will strive to make us feel like we are under unreasonable pressures from our loved ones and cause us to self-isolate.
  • PTSD wants us dead.

PTSD will seduce us into porn to relieve symptoms and then we lose more time, damage our healthy relationships, and eventually kill ourselves all the while PTSD laughs at us.

Why All This Bother About PTSD and Porn?

I get at inquiries about porn and PTSD nearly every day.  One of the treats of running this website is finding out how people who used to be porn-free become porn dependent as a result of their PTSD.  The cases are not hopeless because love is an anti-biotic to PTSD.  But one may also need internet porn filters, counseling, etc., depending on how bad their porn immersion has been.

Porn does not have to be the source of relationship destruction or even suicide.  People can recover but it is serious work.

If you are interested in more about PTSD and pornography see the category link for PTSD and Pornography.

Don’t give up.  We all have value.  God made us in his image and likeness, we are never alone and never truly worthless, even if our PTSD has caused us to do worthless things.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Comments

  1. Well done and courageously identified! Additionally, using porn reinforces the de-humanizing of humans into just sex objects to be used and tossed away. Many vets feel that they too have been treated in this way–as a dispensable object of no inherent value, much less as the full glory potential of a human being. Break the cycle! No more expendable human beings!

    • Hi Amy, You are right, with porn everyone loses. Human beings, usually women, or children, get treated like meat for the gratification of others. The person viewing/using the porn becomes further desensitized to the value implicit in every person – even in themselves. The viewer/user attempts to increase their own diminished sense of self by degrading the value of others. In the end, everyone is degraded and less sensitive in every way: they are desensitized and more numb physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Porn is one of those forms of abuse that manages to damage everyone involved.
      Thank you for taking the time to read the essay and offer your own valuiable thoughts. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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