Imagine being trapped in a room or any other space. There is nothing around you. You see nothing, you hear nothing, you smell nothing, you taste nothing and you feel nothing. How long before the quiet lack of stimulus would become unbearable?
The truth is, after a while you would start to lose any sense of things that are so fundamental to our human experience - time, memory, progression and self would all begin to fade.
This is exactly the idea behind what’s called ‘Sensory Deprivation Torture’ or White Torture.
This practice is defined as follows:
“White torture is a type of psychological torture that includes extreme sensory deprivation and isolation. Carrying out this type of torture makes the detainee lose personal identity through long periods of isolation.”
Think about that. Extreme isolation that makes you actually lose your personal identity.
People can use this to demoralize, demotivate and dominate others after they are so emotionally weak from feeling alone for so long.
So what does this have to do with addiction or pornography? To explain, let’s first look at some of the things we hear from addicts and Fortifiers every day.
I’ve never felt so alone.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
I just want to be myself again.
I’m so tired of carrying this weight around.
I can barely remember what I was like before porn.
Are you seeing the problems here?
The fact is that the isolation that we can experience from any addiction, especially that of pornography, produces the same result as white torture: the loss of your self-identity.
The Walls We Build
The power behind pornography and how it drives users to isolation is often based off of two things: secrecy and shame.
- Secrecy is so problematic because the very act of holding on to something that you think others will judge you for creates an atmosphere where you set yourself apart from the people around you. Secrets rob us of the ability to trust ourselves because we don’t feel trustworthy to others. That lack of trust will very quickly give way to shame.
- Shame is almost always bad. But did you know there is such thing as good shame? Good shame motivates us to be better and shows us that we need to make some changes. A good version of shame tells us that we made a mistake. Bad shame says we are a mistake. We call this toxic shame - shame that makes us feel hopeless or powerless. Instead of a try-try again mentality, toxic shame says just give up, you’ll never beat this anyway. These thoughts are toxic because they can pollute the rest of our mind. Be able to tell the difference between feeling ashamed that you messed up but want to do better and shame that tells you that it’s hopeless.
Water and a Crust of Bread
When we find ourselves in a state of self-doubt and insecurity it is most likely that we have already started to cut lifelines that could have grounded us. Friends, family, school, clubs, and hobbies can all become casualties of our addiction as one negative influence takes over: porn.
We constantly talk about how porn addiction overflows the pleasure centers and reward pathways in our brain, but it can also solidify our isolation. The high we get from using porn can start to feel like our only escape from the hollow empty space we live in.
Sadly, what goes up must come down… hard.
Porn can become the tray of food pushed through the door of our padded cells. We feel like it sustains us, keeps us going, but it is only a product of our captivity. We become so dependent on it that we reject the real world. The lazy counterfeit feels easier and better than the actual connections we have given up on.
Remember: it is fake. It cages you. But remember, you can break free.
Doors Without Locks
Our secrets and our shame helped build these walls but we will need some help to tear them down.
To use the old phrase: honesty is the best policy.
It’s true though. Reaching out to another person who cares about you and can be trusted to guide you towards your goals can be amazing. We all need someone who can help us remember who we really are and what we really want. Hold strong to those people who can show you that you made some mistakes but that don’t make you feel broken beyond repair.
In the Fortify Program, we call these people Accountability Partners. If you don’t have one yet, get one. In the addiction recovery process, reaching out to someone and asking for help is a huge turning point.
Patience Is A Virtue
The last thing to remember is that this is a process. It will take a while to learn to break out of secrecy and trust yourself again. It will take a bit for you to be able to determine if what you are feeling is helpful shame or harmful shame. Having someone that you can consistently turn to will help you start to see yourself and the world in a better light. You don’t have to surround yourself with the white noise of your addiction, instead fill your life with love. That love will lead you to becoming the real you, the you you’ve always wanted to be.
We know how scary this can be. Take a leap of faith but don’t take it alone. Fighting this fight on your own will be much harder and much more painful. Trust us. With your resolve to be better and a good support system around you, things will get better.