Decoding Your Porn Addiction, Lesson 3: Symbolic Characters

Reader Caution: This post contains brief references to scat, animal, child, and homosexual porn.

As you begin this next lesson, remember what your goal is: to get freed up from your addiction to deviant porn. To authentically recover from any kind of addiction, you must first understand what is fuelling it. In cases of deviant porn addictions, psychological stress is our driving force, and that means that your subconscious is the part of you that is craving the porn. Once we understand which of your internal elements is driving this addiction, we need to understand motivation. Whenever your subconscious is acting agitated, the first thing you need to realize is that no matter how bizarre its behaviour might seem, it’s underlying goal is to protect you from harm. This is always the case in deviant porn addictions. Your subconscious isn’t just wallowing in disturbing images because it has nothing better to do. There is actually a very complex, logical strategy at work right in front of you, only you can’t recognize it…yet. So keep reading, because by the end of this series, you will be seeing those porn videos in a very different light.

Internal Reactions

In this lesson we’re going to start decoding the specific imagery that your mind is focusing on. There is an ocean of porn out there and yet notice how your mind is being very specific in which videos it wants you to watch. By now you will have noticed that different kinds of images trigger different kinds of internal responses in you. For now, we want to set aside the guilt responses, because that’s your soul talking. Your soul cannot provide the answers we’re after right now because it doesn’t have them. Your soul genuinely doesn’t understand why your mind is craving the porn, so it just feels disgusted and horrified by the whole affair. We certainly want to respect your soul’s reaction and care about its distress, but to actually fix this issue, we must focus on your mind first and listen to what it has to say.

When you watch porn, you will experience a variety of internal reactions. We can separate these reactions into three basic categories.

First there is a moral reaction, which usually feels like guilt, shame, confsusion, and/or disgust. Common thoughts here are things like “This is disgusting! Why am I watching this? What is wrong with me?!”

Second, there is a stress reaction. This includes things like tensing muscles, a racing pulse, and a rise in body temperature. These kinds of reactions feel similar to the way you would react when you are scared or nervous.

Third, there is a sexual reaction. This is experienced as a sensation of sexual arousal in your body. As this sensation intensifies, your privates will begin to prepare for sex. If you’re a man, this means your penis will become erect. If you’re a woman, it means your vagina will start to secrete its lubricating fluids.

Moral reactions come from your soul. The stress and sexual reactions are caused by your subconscious, so those last two categories are the ones we want to focus on right now. The key thing to notice here is how the intensity of these reactions change from video to video. Some videos give you a very mild reaction, and you will tend to react to them with a sense of boredom or even frustration. Watching videos that give you mild reactions intensifies your desire to search for other videos that will give you stronger reactions.

The strength of your psychological reactions to a video (and these are the reactions that fall into our stress and sexual categories) will guide you to the videos that you should attempt to analyse using the exercises in this series. You will gain the most helpful insights from the videos that give you the strongest psychological reactions. Take a moment to think about this issue. Which videos have you watched so far that give you the most intense reactions? These kinds of videos are often ones that you will find yourself wanting to watch again and again. Take a moment to jot down a couple of notes to yourself about the videos that are at the top of your “favourites” list right now. You might just write something like, “the one with three women,” or “the man and the dog” or “the hospital scene.” I want you to make these notes now so you can refer to them when we start our analysis. To get to the truth about why your mind feels so desperate to watch porn, you should do an in-depth analysis of all of its “favourite” videos. Often there are only one or two videos that you really become obsessed with. Sometimes there could be a few more than this, but this is usually a pretty short list.

Now that you’ve made a note of what your top videos are, let’s learn about why your reactions to these videos are so intense.

Re-Enacting the Past

Here’s where we come to a very surprising yet vital insight about how your subconscious thinks. Porn addictions like the one you’re dealing with are actually your mind’s attempts to problem solve. Now forget about porn for a moment and think about how you normally behave when you run into a problem in life.

Suppose there is something sharp in your shoe, jabbing your foot when you try to take a walk. What do you do? Do you just pretend it’s not happening? No, you stop and take off your shoe. You turn it upside down, shake it, and maybe give it a few good whacks before putting it on again. Prick. Rats, it’s still in there. Now what? You already tried to solve this problem the easy way, so does that mean you just give up? No, you persist. The shoe comes off again, and this time you slide your hand around inside, feeling for something sharp. When you don’t find anything, you feel your sock next, thinking maybe there’s some kind of thorn lodged in it’s fabric. In this situation, you will automatically begin to analyse the situation, and you will start trying to rule out various issues using a very logical set of behaviours. The more elusive the thorn is, the more determined you will be to hunt it down. Why? Because it’s causing you pain. It’s distressing you, and you aren’t going to settle for getting jabbed every time you take a step forward. Instead, you’re going to fight for a state of peace and comfort because that’s how you were designed to operate.

Your subconscious was designed by God to be an extremely persistent, determined little problem solver. Your subconscious is the part of you that took the lead in that thorn situation, and it was the one telling you what your next move should be. Take off your shoe and tap it. Look inside your shoe. Feel inside your shoe. Feel your sock. Take off the sock and feel your foot. Get a closer look at your foot. All of these commands come from your subconscious. Whenever a problem arises in your life, your subconscious immediately starts analysing the problem and brainstorming solutions. The more stress a problem is causing you, the more determined your subconscious will be to fix it. But different solutions require different tools. To look deep inside your shoe, a flashlight would be handy. To really examine your foot, you could use a magnifying glass. Your subconscious is very creative and it can find potential problems solving tools in the most unexpected places–even in deviant porn videos.

To your subconscious, the porn you are addicted to right now is a tool that can potentially help your subconscious solve a problem that is currently causing you immense distress. That problem was caused by some very upsetting experiences that you had in the past. At this point it might be the recent past or the distant past–we need to do some decoding to figure out exactly when those upsetting experiences occurred. Right now all we know is that something bad happened to you because your mind is frantically trying to solve that problem. The strength of your addiction (how often you crave the porn) tells us how threatened your subconscious feels right now by the existence of that unsolved problem. As we learned in Lesson 2, your subconscious’ stress levels are always fluctuating. Sometimes it feels like it’s managing to stay on top of things, other times it feels overwhelmed so it starts to panic.

Now suppose you are a police detective and you’re trying to understand exactly what happened at a specific crime scene. A re-enactment would be very handy, wouldn’t it? If you could find some people to act out exactly what originally happened at the crime scene, then you could stand back, watch them in action, and hopefully come up with a fresh perspective or vital insight that would help you solve your case. This is what your subconscious is trying to accomplish using the porn videos. It is trying to study re-enactments of real events that have happened to you in the past. Because every video is different, some feel like better re-enactments than others. The closer a video captures what actually happened to you, the stronger your psychological reaction to it will be. Remember that your psychological reaction covers two categories: stress reactions and sexual arousal. This means that images that give you the strongest arousal response feel like more accurate replays of your past than images that give you little to no arousal response. I know it’s difficult to get your head around the idea that you feel sexually excited by a re-enactment of a very upsetting event from your past, but this is actually what’s going on. There is a logical reason for your sex drive getting involved like this, and we’ll delve more in to that in a later lesson. Right now the critical point I want you to understand is that those images you are watching are not just random images to your mind, nor are they just about other people doing things. Your mind sees you in those videos. It sees you interacting with people from your past, and it sees re-enactments of very upsetting things happening to you which have actually happened to you in real life.

At this point you might be thinking, “How can my mind see me when I’m obviously not in any of the videos I’m watching? And how can you say those things happened to me? I’ve never experienced the things people are doing to each other in the videos I watch.” Here is where you need to understand how your subconscious thinks.

Metaphorical Imagery

In Lesson 1, I explained that your subconscious prefers to think in metaphorical imagery. To gain a better understanding of this concept, pay attention to what kinds of thoughts, feelings and memories surface when you look at this image:

Is this person male or female? Why are they hiding their face? How do they feel right now? Lonely? Exposed? Afraid? Sad? Abandoned? Wounded? Are they alone or are they with other people? If they are with others, are those other people friends or enemies? What is the history of this person? Have they had a hard life? Have they been abused? How do they feel about their future? Are they hopeful? Are they distressed? Are they sad? Are they suicidal?

This is just a picture, but when I ask you questions about it, your subconscious will automatically suggest answers that it feels best match this imagery. The answers that your mind provides will be quite different than the answers someone else’s mind provides, even though you’re both looking at the same image. Why is this? Because both of your minds are getting their answers by rifling through your personal memories, and you each have different memories.

Your past life experiences greatly influence how you interpret the experiences you have today, and that includes how you interpret porn videos. Just as you can’t focus on the above image without your subconscious forming all kinds of links between that image and your own life memories, you can’t watch a porn video without your mind automatically looking for similarities between what you’re seeing in the video and experiences that you’ve had in the past. Your mind will always form connections, because this is how it was designed to operate. All humans rely on the past to help them interpret the present.

Now notice how quickly your mind could put together a story to go with the above drawing. For some of you, that image actually reminded you of yourself. It’s obviously not an accurate depiction of you, because you don’t have rainbow coloured skin. But some of you still felt a strong identity with the person in the image simply due to the way that person was sitting.

Here’s the thing about verbal language: it’s extremely limited. How do you describe the feeling of happiness? How do you describe hatred, loneliness, and heartbreak? So much of the human experience is impossible to describe only using words because words are frustratingly limited in their ability to communicate complex concepts and intense emotions. To simply say, “My heart feels shattered,” doesn’t begin to feel like an accurate description of the emotional agony we are in when we are newly heartbroken.

Both your soul and your subconscious have their own ways of talking about your experiences in life, and neither of these elements uses a verbal language as a primary form of speaking. Your soul finds words as frustrating as your subconscious does. Your soul uses its own extremely efficient soul language which can convey extremely complex feelings in the blink of an eye without using any sounds or images. Your subconscious also uses a far more efficient form of communication, only its preferred language is quite different than your soul’s.

To understand how your subconscious communicates, take a moment to think about the kinds of data your body’s senses can collect. Touch, smell, sight, sound, taste. Most of the data your body collects falls into one of these five categories. To your subconscious, those five categories are like five spectrums of colour on an artist’s palette. Imagine that different kinds of smells are like different shades of red, and different kinds of sounds are like different shades of blue. With five large spectrums of colour to work with, there are endless kinds of symbolic imagery that your subconscious can create.

Every night when you sleep, your subconscious exercises its artistic talent by creating dreams. Your dreams are essentially short little films in which your subconscious muses about your recent experiences and most pressing worries using highly symbolic imagery. In dreams, bizarre characters show up and behave in bizarre ways–at least that’s how it seems to your soul when it watches these films play out. But the only reason your soul finds your dreams so bizarre is that it didn’t create them, and so it doesn’t automatically understand the symbolism your subconscious is using. When a fire breathing dragon chases you through a beautiful forest of giant lollipops, your soul has no idea what to make of such imagery. To your subconscious, the metaphor is obvious: the fire-breathing dragon is your horrible mother who starts verbally attacking you any time you try to eat some sugary snack. The forest of lollipops represents the sugary foods you’re constantly craving that your mother won’t let you have because she’s determined to make you squeeze into clothing that is four sizes too small for you. In the dream, you feel terrified as the dragon chases you. When the forest suddenly ends and you stumble out onto a depressing, grey, ugly, foul-smelling marshland, you panic that without the giant lollipops giving you coverage, the dragon will sweep down and snatch you up. Yet just then the dragon suddenly stops its pursuit and flies away, leaving you to collapse, exhausting and sobbing, onto the nasty ground beneath you. To your soul, this doesn’t make any sense at all, yet to your subconscious, it’s a brilliant depiction of how miserable you are trying to stick to the drab diet your mother has forced upon you. The nasty marshland is a symbol of that diet: it’s a joyless, ugly place. The repulsion you feel towards the marsh directly reflects the repulsion you feel towards the nasty foods that you try to gag down just to keep your mother off your back. In the dream, the dragon left as soon as you reached the marshland because your mother always stops punishing you when you return to your diet. The dream is a brilliant, metaphorical depiction of how miserable you feel these days as well as how monstrous your tyrannical mother seems to you.

Today many people think that dreams are loaded with supernatural messages and mysterious codes. They’re not. Your dreams are talking about you: especially your current stresses and concerns. Anyone can learn how to interpret their own dreams with a little practice, and when you do, you’ll find that most of them aren’t telling you anything that you didn’t already know (“According to this dream, I’m really stressed about work. Well, yeah, I already know that.“). But while dreams are stating the obvious a lot of the time, they can give you important insights into feelings that you might be burying. For example, you might be aware that you don’t like your boss, but after your subconscious depicts him as a wild lion who is slowly chewing your leg off, that can be an important heads up that the man is having a far worse impact on you than you are allowing yourself to realize.

Your subconscious tells it like it is. It is an extremely passionate entity who is obsessed with the goals of protecting you and getting your needs met. When you go through a terrible experience in life, your subconscious can easily become devastated by that experience, and that has a very negative impact on your overall health.

Deviant porn addictions are always an indication that your subconscious is extremely upset about something that has happened to you in the past. In most cases, one of the main reasons your subconscious feels so upset is because it feels like it failed in its mission to keep you safe. Your subconscious is so devoted to you that it can’t just “let it go and move on” when it feels that it has utterly fallen down in its job as your protector. Instead, it gets stalled in the past as it obsesses over what happened to you: replaying those memory files a billion times over in a desperate attempt to understand exactly what went wrong so that it can find some way to do a better job of protecting you in the future. Like a super loyal bodyguard with impossibly high standards, your subconscious demands perfection from itself when it comes to the goal of keeping you safe. Because perfection is impossible, it is guaranteed that your subconscious will become very stressed at many points in your life. But stress only turns into an addiction when it drags on and on without being resolved. The longer this occurs, the more upset your subconscious becomes, which is why single addictions often compound into multiple addictions over time. First you start with the porn. Then you become an alcoholic. Then you start smoking marijuana. Then you start trolling the internet for strangers who you can hook up with for a little BDSM session. Then you start self-harming between your hook ups…

If you’re seeing this kind of negative, downward spiral happening in your own life, that means your subconscious is feeling overwhelmed with stress and desperately grasping at any new tool it can find that might help it feel a bit better. There is a logical strategy behind every new coping method your mind decides to try, and different minds go for different things. But when you understand that the real, underlying crisis behind all of these negative surface behaviours is psychological stress, you can appreciate why dealing with that stress is the only way you’re going to scale back any addictions in your life. Before you can deal with the stress, you need to understand exactly what your subconscious is so upset about, and that means figuring out which specific, real-life experiences you have had that your subconscious found so devastating. Happily, your subconscious is telling you what those experiences are every time you watch a porn video–you just have to learn how to decode the symbols it is using.

Symbolic Characters

Now that you’ve made it this far, it’s time to start doing some real work. Grab a notebook and pen. Make it a large notebook, because you’re going to need space. Also get a folder to stuff your notes in, because we’re going to be ripping out pages as we go and storing them in the folder for future reference.

Get out those notes you made earlier about your current top videos. These are the videos that give you the strongest psychological reaction, and they are probably also the ones that you want to watch the most often. (Notice there’s a difference between what you want to watch and what you can watch due to availability or safety issues. What you want to watch is what matters for this analysis.)

Now title the first page in your notebook “TOP VIDEOS.” Then, using the notes you made before, write out a very brief description of each of your top videos (just a few words will do). Assign a number to each video in your list. It doesn’t matter if you only have one video. You can use this same process for any new videos that come up in the future. If you have multiple videos, the numbers will help you organize your notes.

Now tear that first sheet out of your notebook and put it into your folder. Before you close your folder, remind yourself what Video 1 is about. Now start a new sheet. Title the new sheet SYMBOLIC CHARACTERS. Under this header, write a subtitle: VIDEO 1. You’re going to use a portion of this second sheet for each video on your TOP VIDEOS list. If you end up needing multiple sheets, you can staple them together, so don’t leave out important details just to save space. Some of your videos will result in more notes than others.

Now think about Video 1. Focus on the characters in the video. Make a list of the main characters. For example, if it’s a bestiality video of a man and a dog, you might write: man, dog. The animal is a main character in a bestiality video so be sure to include it. Anyone who gets a lot of camera time in the video needs to go on this list.

Now some videos have a lot of characters. For example, in a lesbian orgy video, there might be ten females all feeling each other up. When there are a lot of characters in your video, list the ones that you notice. Don’t watch the video again to check. You’ll actually do a better job going off of your memory for this, because we’re only interested in the characters that your mind is highlighting as significant. In the orgy video, there might be ten females, but when you replay the video in your head, there are only four that you focus on. In that case, just list those four. You can identify them by any feature that makes sense to you. For example: woman in blue bra; woman with purple hair; teen with pink hair, the squealing woman. Assign a letter to each of the characters in your list (A, B, C, etc.).

Here’s a general idea of what your two lists should look like so far. I’m going to use a bestiality/scat/pedophilia example because I know a lot of you little darlings are coming to this site looking for help with these specific issues. In real life, deviant porn addictions will often expand to include several genres of porn. My guy Sam is currently addicted to scat, bestiality, and child porn, so he feels horrible about himself and his lists look like this:

Now because Sam feels so bad about watching these videos in the first place, he starts feeling upset just making these lists. This is a soul reaction. Your soul is reacting this way because it is only seeing the moral offense of what you are doing and it is freaking out that these behaviours indicate you are so messed up that you’re “beyond hope.” Well, your soul is absolutely wrong about you being beyond hope. Your soul needs to understand that your mind has positive motivations for watching these videos: it is trying to help you. Your soul needs to try to calm down and cooperate with this analytical process because what we’re really doing here is trying to help your soul understand your mind better. Your mind already has all of the answers that we’re going to be trying to suss out. Your soul is the one in the dark, and that’s a problem, because your mind needs your soul’s help if it’s going to get unstuck. If your soul is going to be able to provide that help, it needs be willing to listen and respect what your mind has to say.

Now if you’re really freaking out, then take a break and try taking a walk, drinking some water, and listening to some music or watching some television. Analysis exercises like these are very intense and draining, so you need to do them in reasonable chunks. Don’t try to sit down and hammer out all of your lists at once or you can drive yourself into a mental breakdown, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. To avoid making your condition a lot worse than it is, you need to listen to your internal stress signals as you work on your lists. When you start feeling really upset, STOP, stuff it all out of sight in your folder, and go do something else. Come back and continue after you’ve had a chance to recharge.

Okay, now let’s move on. Look at your SYMBOLIC CHARACTERS list for Video 1. Close your eyes and think about the answer to this question: when you are watching Video 1, which of these characters do you FOCUS on the most? There is a difference between watching and focusing. Watching just means “I noticed that all of these characters were present.” Focusing means, “But I paid extra attention to this one.”

Your subconscious has latched onto Video 1 because it sees significant, symbolic parallels between elements in that video and elements of a real life experience that you have had. What we’re trying to figure out here is what those parallels are. We are starting with the characters in the video. In future lessons, we’ll also analyse other aspects of the video.

Once you identify which character(s) you focus on the most when watching Video 1, put an asterisk (*) next to that character on your list. Often there is one character who will rise to the top of the list. Your mind will usually consider that character to be a symbol of you.

Now suppose your video has four characters, and you focus mainly on two of them, but you focus the most on just one of them. Put two stars (**) next to the character you focus on the most, and one star next to the character that also gets extra attention from you. The goal here is to separate the characters your mind isn’t interested in from the characters it feels are important.

In a two character video, you might focus on both characters while especially favouring one, or you might mostly ignore one character while mainly keeping your eyes glued on the other. A practical way to sort out this focusing business is to pay attention to which character your physical eyes spend the most time staring at.

Don’t put stars next to the characters that you don’t focus on. Don’t worry about being perfect at this, either, just let your mind guide you with who should get stars and who shouldn’t.

Sam’s Video 1 is a bestiality video in which a man is raping a dog. When Sam watches this video, he finds that he primarily focuses on the dog, but he also feels that he focuses a fair amount on the man as well, meaning that his eyes keep moving back to the man frequently as he watches the video. To show this information in his list, Sam stars his characters like this:

Now we’re ready for our next step. Only consider the characters that you have put a star next to as you answer this question: Which of these characters receive a SYMPATHETIC reaction from you when you watch this video? This will be the character that you find yourself genuinely feeling sorry for as you watch the video play. Often your sympathetic response will be triggered by you thinking about how that person (or animal) feels about what is happening to them.

Once you identify your SYMPATHETIC character, draw an ARROW next to their description on your list. If you don’t experience this kind of response to any of the characters on your list, don’t draw any arrows.

If you find yourself sympathizing with multiple characters on your starred list, put arrows next to all of their names, but put DOUBLE ARROWS next to the character that you have the strongest sympathy for.

In Sam’s case, he finds that he focuses on two characters, but he only sympathizes with the dog, so he draws his arrow like this:

Sympathy is fuelled by personal identity, which is why you have the most sympathy for people who are going through some form of suffering that you feel you can personally identify with. Sam is a man, not a dog, yet notice how he only sympathizes with the dog in his video while he does not feel any sympathy towards the man who is raping the dog. It is very common to sympathize with the animal in bestiality videos, because your mind often feels that the animal is a symbol of you.

When humans have sex with animals, it’s a form of rape. No animal wants to have sex with a human. When you have been a victim of sexual assault in your own life, and you watch another living creature being sexually assaulted, you will naturally sympathize with that creature, because you will feel that you can personally relate to what is happening to it. Remember that your subconscious loves to communicate using metaphors and symbolism, and from it’s point of view, the videos you watch are loaded with symbolism. To see the videos the way your mind sees them, you have to decipher the clues that it is giving you. Focus and sympathy are two important clues as to which character your mind considers to be a symbol of you. Also remember that the reason you started watching videos in the first place is because your mind is trying to solve a problem from your past so that it can protect you in the future. This is a very you-focused activity, which is why we will usually find a symbolic you playing a starring role in the videos that your mind becomes very attached to. Once we identify which characters your mind sees as you, we can then analyse what is happening to those characters so that we can identify which real life experiences from your past your mind is trying to study by watching videos.

Now once you finish assigning arrows and stars to the characters from VIDEO 1, repeat these steps for every other video on your TOP VIDEO list. Here are Sam’s final results:

Notice the variation in focus here. In Videos 1 & 3, Sam focused on both characters. In Video 2, he only focused on one character while he mostly ignored the other. Sam is a man in his 40s, yet according to his arrows, his mind is casting him as a dog and a girl, while passing up opportunities to cast him as a man. Sam finds this pattern disturbing. You might also find some disturbing patterns showing up in your own notes, but don’t worry. There are logical reasons for why your mind casts you in the roles that it does. Don’t try to figure out what those reasons are just yet, because you need more education first. As we press on in this series, you’re going to learn to appreciate just how logical, rational, and creative your mind is. You will also learn to appreciate how hard it is trying to help you by driving you to these videos again and again, so let’s try to give it the benefit of the doubt at this point. It is trying to do something good using the only tools it can find, so it deserves respect, not punishment.

It is entirely normal to suddenly feel a surge in your need to watch porn when you do this kind of analysis. If this happens to you, don’t stress about it, and don’t take that as an indication that you’re “going downhill.” You’re not going downhill, your mind is simply reacting to the fact that your soul is suddenly acting very interested in what your mind is doing. That’s quite a change when your soul has a history of endlessly griping at your mind for being “perverse.” Your mind is naturally going to be cautious at first, wondering how much it should risk sharing. Here is where it will be very helpful for your soul to try to say something compassionate when it feels like saying something critical. Instead of the usual moral lectures, try saying, “I am realizing that I haven’t been very supportive about this issue because I didn’t understand what you were doing. Now that I’m realizing you are feeling very upset about something, I want to help you find a way to feel better. If you can help me understand what is going on, I’ll do my best to help you find a solution.”

We’re just getting started and we have a lot of ground to cover. Keep your lists in your folder because we’ll be using them again in future lessons. Now take a break from psych work and go do something fun!