Deviant Porn & Your Subconscious: Understanding the Appeal

In the vast world of pornographic films and pictures, there is a wide range of themes. On the lighter end of the spectrum, there is your classic “friendly” or “vanilla” porn in which there is a theme of mutual desire between two characters that are simply exaggerating the physical thrill of making out to ridiculous extremes.

Then there’s the dark stuff.

Deviant porn focuses on themes that are disturbingly different than the common definition of “nice sex”. In deviant porn, themes of coercion and violence abound. People are filmed grossly abusing and demeaning each other. Often there’s a disturbing sense that one or more of the actors is being made to participate against their will. There is a lot more equipment used in deviant porn films, and sometimes non-human beings or objects are used as sexual partners.

Given how dark, disturbing, and inhumane deviant porn films can be, and given how often they are celebrating concepts that humans find universally distressing (such as physical pain and emotional degradation) why on earth would anyone want to watch such things?

In the world of psychological trauma, deviant porn addictions are a common tool that subconscious minds use to manage stress. The more stressed the subconscious is, the stronger the addiction can be. Often addictions to deviant porn are more intense than addictions to regular porn and they cannot be stopped “cold turkey” without worsening the mind’s condition. As is the case with any addiction, root causes must be identified before any treatment strategy is attempted. Just as ripping a life raft away from a drowning man is only going to thrust him into an even worse crisis, ripping porn away from a traumatized subconscious will only intensify the mental crisis and can potentially lead to the person engaging in behaviors that will harm themselves and others.

Your Mental Tool Kit

Mental stress abounds in this world, yet the ways your mind attempts to manage its problems can be very different than the ways other minds are managing theirs. While societies and religious communities like to play the shame game by labeling some mental coping methods as monstrous and others as no big deal, the truth is that these things are wired in. Just as you were born with certain automatic food and color preferences, your mind has its own kit of problem solving tools that it instinctively reaches for whenever a crisis occurs. You have no control over what kinds of tools are in your mind’s kit. All kits have a range of tools. Tools that are meant to deal with minor crises do less damage than tools that are meant to deal with big emergencies. All minds have basic tools and emergency tools. The best you can do is try to help your mind resolve its problems quickly before it gets so desperate that it reaches for one of its emergency tools.

When you read about a man who stormed into his workplace and gunned down his fellow employees, that’s a scenario of a mind utilizing one of its emergency tools. Emergency tools are like large explosives: they aren’t designed for precise problem solving and they often do extensive damage.

Ranking Tools

There are several factors that influence how your subconscious ranks the tools in its personal kit. For some people, any form of physical violence is considered an emergency tool. But for others, physically shoving or punching an antagonist is considered a basic, non-extreme response. To correctly assess the seriousness of any mental crisis, counselors need to know how to tell what kind of ranking system a mind is using for its tools. What is truly desperate behavior for one man can be very normal behavior for another.

Common Trauma Coping Tools

When it comes to coping with trauma, there are several common tools. Some minds will quickly turn to ingesting potent chemical substances, such as alcohol or drugs. Others will find relief in assaulting others verbally and/or physically. Still others will pull inward and withdraw from any social activities. Some will actively seek out opportunities to experience being abused. Some minds will try to manage stress by obsessively collecting and organizing large quantities of physical objects. Other minds will become obsessed with certain kinds of visual input.

Deviant porn addictions fall into that last category. But how does a stressed out subconscious find it helpful to watch images on a screen?

Symbolic Imagery

Your subconscious is a very symbolic thinker. Your country’s flag is just a bit of colored cloth, and yet to your subconscious, your flag can be strongly associated with many concepts, feelings, and memories. For starters, seeing the flag makes you think of your country, and all of the feelings (good or bad) that you have about your culture, nationality, and geographical location in the world. Your country’s flag might also make you suddenly aware of your ethnicity or pull up mental images of certain government leaders.

When Rebecca sees a jar of olives, she immediately recalls how nauseated she felt the last time she ate olives. When Ava sees the same jar, she immediately thinks of her Italian grandmother. It is your subconscious that controls what certain objects, words, and sensations make you think of.

To your subconscious, symbols are a far more efficient language than words. Unlike words, which are limited in meaning and use, symbols can mean anything. There are no rules limiting the kinds of concepts, memories, and feelings your subconscious can attach to something. Your subconscious maintains its own private database of symbols and what they are associated with. As you gather new experiences in life, your subconscious is constantly changing the associations it attaches to various symbols so that it can keep its symbol database feeling very up to date and relevant.

Now because your safety is so important to your subconscious, it is particularly interested in any symbol that it associates with safety concerns. For example, a kitchen knife has the potential to seriously injure you. A spoon, not so much. So when you walk into a room and see both a knife and a spoon lying on a counter, your subconscious will immediately feel the knife is more significant and it will probably caution your body and conscious to be wary around the knife’s blade.

When you go through a traumatic experience that threatened your safety, your subconscious becomes extremely upset. As soon as the experience is over, your subconscious starts trying to come up with a rational explanation for why that experience happened. Your subconscious will not feel that it can move on from that experience until it can explain it in a way that doesn’t feel threatening.

Your subconscious becomes traumatized when it cannot come up with a satisfying explanation for a very upsetting experience that you went through. Imagine that someone dumps ten oddly shaped wooden pieces on a table in front of you. If you put all of the pieces together just right, they will form a smooth wooden cube. But there is only one right way to assemble the pieces, and it’s not at all obvious. You try and try, but you just can’t figure it out. All of your attempts end up with a misshapen cube with pieces jutting out at odd angles or gaps where pieces are supposed to go. In real life, you’d soon tire of the challenge and chuck the whole thing into the nearest bin. But suppose you had to get it right before you could relax. Suppose that as long as that darn cube remained unassembled, the very presence of those wooden pieces felt extremely agitating and threatening to you. In this situation, you have two options: either force yourself to keep trying to conquer the puzzle no matter how fatigued you get, or put enormous effort into trying to ignore how agitated you are that the puzzle seems to have conquered you.

Minds that turn to substances like alcohol and drugs are trying that second option: the one where you try to ignore how aggravated you are. The purpose of ingesting chemicals that will interfere with the natural functions of your mind and body is to create a distraction big enough to give your subconscious temporary relief from having to think about that darn cube.

Minds that turn to porn as a means of relieving stress are going for that first option: the one where you endlessly keep trying to solve the mystery of the cube. To your subconscious, the porn sequences it pushes you to watch feel like its chance to watch someone else assemble that cube in front of it. The porn is rather like a “how to” video that you might pull up on YouTube, only in this case, the task your subconscious wants help with is how to get comfortable with the horrible event that happened to you.

Ben is raped by his father when he’s a small boy. At the time, his subconscious can’t come up with any explanation for that event that isn’t terribly upsetting. Why would any father assault his own son? Why was Ben raped and not his brother? Why didn’t his mom intervene? Why did his father pretend it never happened? These are just a few of the questions that Ben’s mind must be able to answer in a satisfactory way before he can put that trauma behind him. Each question is like one of the pieces of that wooden cube, yet no matter how Ben’s subconscious tries, it can’t come up with an explanation that will put all of those questions to rest.

As an adult, Ben now finds himself addicted to porn sequences in which men are raping boys. Even though the images deeply disturb his soul (remember that your soul is the part of you that cares about right and wrong), Ben’s subconscious actually feels relieved whenever he watches the videos. In fact, Ben notices that whenever something stressful happens in some other area of his life–perhaps at his job or due to some fight he has with his wife–his need to watch a porn video becomes overwhelmingly strong. So what’s going on here? Why would Ben’s mind get any relief in watching replays of the terrible thing that happened to him–especially when Ben still hasn’t found any way to make peace with his own trauma? A helpful rule to bear in mind here is that where there is stress, a mind will obsess.

Looking for Answers

Once a subconscious becomes traumatized, it will automatically dedicate some of its resources to the task of continuously reviewing, analyzing, and obsessing over what happened to you. The point of doing this is to solve the puzzle. To get the all of the mystery, confusion, and fear about what happened to you finally resolved. If you get hit with another trauma, your subconscious will divert more resources to start continuously working on that new dilemma 24/7. As you can imagine, multiple traumas quickly become major a drain on your subconscious‘ resources, and this is quite a problem since your conscious and body both depend on your subconscious to help them function well. Your subconscious is well aware of the central role it’s playing in keeping your whole system balanced, which is why it can’t afford to take any time off in problem solving. So it thinks. And it thinks, and thinks, and thinks. There must be a way to get the trauma resolved.

Trying to analyze your trauma from different angles is your mind’s purpose in driving you towards porn. In cases of trauma driven porn addictions, the themes are often dark and varied. Ben isn’t just addicted to porn in which men are raping boys. He’s also addicted to images of boys molesting boys, and men raping dogs, and men defecating on boys. To Ben’s mind, the characters and actions that are playing out in porn films are all symbolic reminders of different aspects of elements of Ben’s real life assault experience. In the dog porn, the dog represents Ben himself. Ben personally doesn’t care for dogs. He views them as unwanted pests. Ben’s feelings about dogs are unrelated to what his father did to him, however his subconscious has linked dogs to the assault experience because his subconscious feels there is a useful emotional similarity between the way Ben views dogs (inferior, unwanted), and the way Ben feels his father views him. When Ben’s mind ponders the idea of Ben being likened to a dog, it’s thinking about how degraded and inferior Ben’s father made him feel by raping Ben. Those gross feelings are just more wooden puzzle pieces that Ben’s subconscious must find a way to resolve. It feels that studying the porn sequences might help for the same reason that you will instinctively go to a mirror and closely examine your eyeball when you feel like something is scratching at it. Where there is stress, a mind will obsess.

Trauma driven porn addictions are always caused by the subconscious trying to resolve unanswered questions about the past. The porn images are highly symbolic to the subconscious, and it views them as specifically relating to the original trauma(s). Your subconscious can also feel validated and inspired by studying porn, and these two emotions feel like lifelines to a mind that’s drowning in stress.

A Source of Validation

Far too often in cases of trauma, the person never gets a chance to discuss what happened to them with a compassionate third party. Having a third party validate your feelings by agreeing with you that your reactions were reasonable and justified is an important step in trauma recovery. When your subconscious don’t have access to this kind of validation, the need for it doesn’t go away; it intensifies.

When Ben’s father assaulted him, Ben experienced intense physical pain, terror, and degradation. Ben never discussed what happened to him, and now decades have passed and Ben’s need for validation has never been met. His subconscious is exhausted from the strain of trying to handle all of its daily tasks while still working on that impossible cube. When Ben’s mind drives him to watch porn in which boys are acting extremely upset and distressed by men assaulting them, Ben’s mind is really looking for validation. Since there is no one in Ben’s life saying, “What happened to you was horrible and you are totally valid to be so upset about it,” Ben’s subconscious is looking for a kind of secondary validation that comes through collecting evidence that his reactions are normal.

The need to feel that our reactions are normal runs very deep in humans. Often what is considered “really disturbing” porn is porn in which someone is acting clearly distressed by what is being done to them. It’s one thing to watch a BDSM session in which partners are torturing each other in the name of sexual “play.” But BDSM sessions are supposed to involve willing victims, and this isn’t going to provide someone like Ben with the validation he is looking for. Ben’s subconscious needs the kind of comfort that comes from seeing that other also boys cry when they are being assaulted. Ben is very confused and stressed by the way he reacted to being assaulted as a child. By watching other boys being assaulted in a film, and seeing that they, too, show obvious signs of distress, it helps him feel that his own reactions were normal.

When you slip on a public sidewalk and land flat on your face, you immediately feel very embarrassed. If you see someone else later slip and fall the same way you did, and if they sit up with the same ridiculous expression that you had on your face, and if their bags get all tangled up on their arms the way yours did, and if they clamber to their feet as awkwardly as you did, you suddenly feel a lot better about your own display, don’t you? This is because it is extremely validating to have another human respond to a crisis the same way you did. It is very invalidating when other humans pretend that your reaction was freakish or sissy or totally unreasonable.

There is immense damage done by mottos like “Real men don’t cry.” Crying is a very healthy, natural way of venting off emotional stress. When a man is taught that it is shameful to cry, and then he ends up in a situation where he is so upset that he does cry, the end result is that the man feels like a failure at being a man. He feels like the freak among other men: the loser, the sissy. And yet what happens when the first man meets a second man who admits that he, too, has cried? The second man’s admission will help the first man feel normal and less ashamed. Validation is powerful and we all want to be validated in all areas of life.

Once you understand that your mind is desperately seeking validation for its stressed out condition, it should radically change the way you view your porn addiction. Before souls understand what their subconscious partners are doing, souls tend to be very condemning of porn addictions. The darker the images, the more hateful the soul talks towards the subconscious, increasing the friction between the two elements and causing the subconscious to feel even more stressed and isolated. But once your soul sees that your subconscious is really just in desperate need of comfort and validation for the horrible things it has endured, your soul can choose to give a more compassionate response, which will greatly benefit your entire well-being.

A Source of Inspiration

The more frustrated your subconscious mind becomes at solving that exasperating puzzle, the more open it will be to any solution that might help reduce its stress. To a stressed out subconscious, porn films can seem like a useful source of inspiration on how past traumas might finally be resolved. One very common pattern here is that of role reversal. This is where your subconscious seeks out porn films which seem to symbolically depict you reenacting what happened to you in the past, only this time, from a position of power. This kind of sequence is especially attractive in cases of sexual assault or physical torture. As you can imagine, the porn sequences that help in these kinds of scenarios contain some very dark and disturbing content. A simplistic example would be a woman who was traumatized by being raped by a man then ends up hooked on porn in which women are seen violently raping male victims. Sometimes the imagery is this easy to interpret, other times it’s a lot more metaphorical so it takes some analysis to figure out how your subconscious is interpreting the images that it sees. But in this simplistic example, you can see how the woman’s mind is trying to find comfort in imagining herself turning the table on her past attacker.

Because of the way minds process traumas, experiences like rape can easily lead to a fearful hatred towards anyone that remotely reminds your subconscious of the person who assaulted you. A woman who is raped as a teen by a male teen can easily develop a hatred of all males. Even though other men aren’t doing her any harm, they have become symbols of her original attacker to her subconscious, and until the woman is able to move past her own trauma, her hostile feelings towards all men will remain. For a woman in that position, watching images of women raping men can feel calming and inspirational to her subconscious. It will seem as if the films are saying, “Look! This could be you one day: powerful and able to annihilate anyone who threatens you! That man took everything from you, but now look at him getting what he deserves!”

So is this really the ideal way to resolve trauma: to go around trashing other people? Certainly not, but traumatized minds are super stressed and stuck in obsessions about the past. Just as a young child can’t be expected to always make wise choices, you can’t expect stressed out minds to only consider effective solutions to their problems. Many minds honestly don’t know what an effective solution is, which is why they are in such a crisis.

Listening to the Subconscious

If the subconscious’ real agenda in poring over disturbing porn images is really just to try and get some sense of validation and hope that one day it could dig out from under its enormous stress load, can you see why it doesn’t work to try and deal with these addictions by instantly cutting yourself off from porn? When you are dealing with trauma driven porn addictions, telling yourself that you’re not allowed to watch anymore, and that you were being “bad” or “sick” to watch it in the first place only comes across to your subconscious as your soul saying: “Stop it, you sick little pervert! I don’t give a darn about what happened to you! You don’t deserve validation or comfort or help! So suck it up and stop embarrassing me with all of your sniveling about the past!”

Would you feel encouraged by someone coming down on you like that? Not hardly.

If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: LISTEN before you judge. This rule doesn’t only apply to how you should respond to other people–it also applies to how you respond to yourself. Your soul and subconscious always have logical reasons for the way they behave. In this post I’ve been talking about psychological trauma, which affects your subconscious. But spiritual trauma is just as real, and in those cases, your soul is the part of you that ends up getting entrenched in negative behaviors and harmful coping methods as part of its own desperate search for validation and hope. You need to put effort into understanding what is really going on inside yourself before you start trying to force your elements into submitting to a therapeutic approach that might be the total opposite of what they really need.

There is always hope to recover from any kind of trauma. Your subconscious and soul are incredibly resilient elements which can come bouncing back from horrific experiences stronger than ever. By making compassion a priority in your dealings with yourself and others, you will end up in a fabulous place.

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