Excerpt from He's a Porn Addict...Now What? (Overbay and Shea): Introduction

 


Introduction

This book is a unique collaboration between a mental health professional, Tony Overbay, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Joshua Shea, a former journalist who spent more than two decades struggling with pornography addiction. Usually, the expert sitting in the chair and the person on the couch getting the help don’t work together on a project outside of the therapist’s office, but we think this is a natural match. (And for those wondering, Josh was never Tony’s client—they met on a podcast.)

Tony spends dozens of hours every week working with couples who are at various stages of the therapy process. Many of these couples have struggled with pornography issues. Although you’re probably feeling alone in the world right now, you are not. Tony has dealt with women, men and couples who are going through exactly what you are experiencing.

Josh was a pillar of his community when his world came crashing down. A magazine publisher and city councilor, his life changed forever when he was arrested for inappropriate behavior in a computer chat room with a teenage girl in 2013. Trips to inpatient rehabilitation, years of intensive therapy, and a short jail sentence later, he now uses his story to educate others about pornography addiction.

It is our belief that we can provide you with more complete answers to the questions that are festering within you than if you were  holding a book by only one of us.

 

The question probably burning inside of you brighter than any other is the same one we are both asked most often: Is porn addiction real? We answer that question inside the book, but here’s an early spoiler: It is 100% real.

Throughout the book, we may refer to an attraction to pornography as an addiction or as an impulse control disorder. The answers often depend on the question, but either way, it is just a label for a condition your partner is dealing with. Practically speaking, it doesn’t matter if it’s an addiction, an impulse control disorder, or some other label. It is what it is.

Tony works with men every day who try to stop using pornography while their partners look on feeling helpless. Josh knows firsthand it’s most likely a behavior that they do not want to continue even if they don’t want to talk about it. You want to talk about it, and that’s why you’re reading this book.

There is no miracle phrase, pill, or magic wand. That is the difficulty in quitting the behavior. Chances are that your partner has been lying to his parents, his religious leaders, you, his friends—and himself—for years, which is a big part of the problem.

Some men like the label of addiction because they feel as an “addict” they can then do work that is recommended for addicts, while others don’t want to be called addict because it brings up feelings of shame. The great news for both of you is that there are plenty of methods, tools, and programs to overcome the problem. We have seen men’s lives changed completely when finally getting this problem behind them. Josh is one such man.

While we hope reading our answers to these oft-asked questions will be incredibly helpful to your journey, we also understand there is no way for us to completely understand all of the backstory of your life as well as your current situation so certain answers may not feel like the correct advice at all times. Our answers will hopefully provide you with a framework to begin processing the multitude of emotions that you’re trying to deal with right now. We highly recommend finding a professional, whether it be a licensed therapist, counselor, clinical psychologist, or even a psychiatrist to help you sort through all of the emotions that you’re dealing with. 

The most foreign, yet strongest emotion you may be feeling is known as “Betrayal Trauma.”

There’s an old adage that “When the addict gets sick, those around him get sick, too,” but pornography addiction is unlike any other addiction. The wife of a gambling addict doesn’t wonder what she did wrong in the marriage. The girlfriend of a heroin addict doesn’t ask herself if she wasn’t enough in the bedroom. That’s not the case with pornography addiction.

Betrayal trauma refers to the damage caused when one partner (in this case, your husband or boyfriend) betrays the feelings of safety and trust the other (you) has instilled in them. When the person you rely on for support and survival shows themselves to be not what you expected, it can cut deep. We will delve further into this topic in the book.

In his practice, Tony deals a lot with what is called “gaslighting,” and when he was deep into his addiction, Josh felt like he had perfected the art.      

If you aren’t familiar with the term, it comes from the 1941 movie Gaslight. In the movie, the main character turns the gas in his home’s lights down slightly each evening and tells his wife that she’s imagining that they aren’t as bright, eventually causing her to feel like she’s going crazy. Gaslighting is a serious issue, but it’s also one that can be misunderstood.

When gaslighting is happening, the gaslighter (a husband,[1] in this example) is not only trying to refute what his wife is saying, but he’s also trying to make her feel bad for even speaking her truth.

 

We are grateful that you have entrusted us to help you try and process what is an incredibly difficult time in your life; one that you most likely never anticipated going through. Just please know that there is a lot of help out there, and we’re grateful that you’ve chosen us as part of your discovery/recovery package. The fact that you’re seeking help is very important as there are so many people who don’t.

Our goal is to provide tools and answers for people who are in relationships where there can be dialogue. If you feel like you are not able to voice your concerns or to be able to express your fears, your hurts, and your pains, then again, we highly recommend that you reach out to a professional.

In Tony’s experience, when many women go through the pain of discovery, or disclosure, they are typically met with one of two reactions from their partners. First is the guy who gets it. This is the guy who either got caught in his pornography addiction or pre-emptively confessed to his obsession. Either way, he’s the one who says that he will do whatever it takes to make this right with you, with God, with whomever matters to him. He says he’ll do counseling, go to recovery meetings, meet with his pastor, let you see his phone, and do whatever it takes because he doesn’t want this behavior in his life.

Then there’s the other guy. He’s the one who says, “Look, you caught me, I’ll take care of it, but I don’t need you on my case every minute of the day, asking me if I’m looking at something or asking to see my phone or my computer.” This is the guy who typically is still not fully dealing with the problem. He is prone to gaslighting and unhealthy communication.

As Josh can personally attest, many men ping-pong between the two personality types. Until he spent 17 weeks in inpatient rehab, Josh was much more like the second guy than the first, but he’s proof that change can happen. He’ll share stories of both sides.

We believe seeing the addict’s and the expert’s answers side-by-side will give you a unique perspective on the complexities of the problems of addiction and its effects on individual mental health and on relationships.

You are looking for answers, and if you’ve already reached out to your friends, family, a religious leader, life coach, or a therapist, you’ve probably received a lot of different answers, and that may leave you even more concerned and confused.

In purchasing this book, you’ve turned to a former addict and an expert. We truly believe we offer a more complete picture than any other text available. There is nothing like this book on the market, and we are extremely proud of this resource and hope that it will help you in what we know is an incredibly difficult time.

 



[1] Throughout this book, we refer to the addict as male. This is because almost all of the addicts treated by Tony have been male. In our personal experience, addicts are predominantly male though we know there are many female addicts out there and this information can pertain to their partners as well.



For more posts about this book, its companion, Porn and the Pandemic (Shea), and its authors, click HERE.

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