Sunday, August 16, 2009

How Common is Sex Addiction among Orthodox Jewry?

How many people who read this blog have pornography or sex addictions? I don’t know the answer to that question but statistically there are probably some who do.

People who are addicted to porn range across the entire spectrum of Orthodoxy. Whether Modern Orthodox, very Charedi, or Chasidic. Addictions know no religious boundaries. They are a result of a combination of various factors in both nature and nurture in the development of one’s personality.

The way porn addicts act upon their addictions can vary - some acts are more destructive than others - none of them permitted by Halacha. But no matter how religious one is - once triggered the sex drive is so strong it can easily overwhelm the strongest of wills to resist it – no matter how religious one is.

The computer age and the easy availability of Internet porn makes it all too easy to succumb in private where no one will be the wiser. One thing that seems common is that if left unchecked the addiction becomes increasingly destructive – as does any type of addictive behavior. Porn addiction - just like narcotics addiction - can destroy one’s life.

Living in a society where sexual stimuli are all over the place and where standards of decency are constantly being defined down no doubt make this problem a growing one - no matter how sheltered one is. I don’t know what the numbers are. But I’ll bet it is a bigger problem than anyone realizes. How many addicts are there that live dual lives and no one even suspects them? I am reminded of an article in the Jewish Observer by a Charedi principal who had such an addiction and was caught only when he started accessing illegal child pornography sites.

This is not a subject I am comfortable writing about. I am certainly no expert. But has an article by a Jewish man that is quite revealing. I am not sure he is religious but I somehow suspect that he is. In any case he was a man who led a dual life - an outward one and a secret one. To the world he was... a successful family man living in a nice Jewish community and happily married. Inside, it was all about lust, focusing on the next "fix."

He allows the reader to enter the mind of a sex addict. He very clearly describes his descent into the world of porn; how he became addicted; the constant need to see and ‘act’ on porn; the need to keep increasing the eroticism of images he sought to maintain his level of pleasure - the lowering of his self esteem, and how it affected his relationship with his wife. He also describes the steps he took to return from the depths of his addiction.

Whether someone has even the slightest problem along these lines or simply wants to get educated about the problem from the perspective of a recovering addict I highly recommend this article. That said this article is not for everyone. Be cautioned. Those who are queasy might want to skip it.

Warning: Discretion is advised.