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How to Overcome Porn Addiction: Don Jon’s Example

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Last night we saw the movie, Don Jon, which focused on a young man’s porn addiction. Jon Martello (nicknamed Don Jon, on account of his womanizing ways) loved sex with women, but he loved porn more. And, like every addict, he didn’t see anything wrong with jacking off in front of his computer 10-40 times a week.

Of course, the girl that the main character, “Don Jon,” was falling in love with had different feelings about her boyfriend’s affinity for porn, and, after catching him in the act, forbade him to ever watch porn again. Of course, he was unable to do so, in spite of his earnest promise to stop.

If you’re someone with an addictive personality, this scenario doesn’t seem too unfamiliar. After all, how many times have we sworn off some aberrant behavior, only to find that we were right back at it in “no time.” And how many times have we had loved ones express their concern, if not outright anger, about our indulgences?

It seems to go with the territory of addiction. Denial – we think it’s not a big deal and tell ourselves that over and over as we indulge compulsively; Lying – when confronted, we swear off of our behavior and when we can’t stop, we just get sneakier about it, lying to those who are on our case; Progression – our behavior gets worse with time and an increase of stress; Turmoil – we cause so much heartache and pain that our loved ones either cut us off or at least threaten to; Awakening – somehow, if we are lucky, we wake up to the true destructiveness of our behavior and start taking actions to heal.

All these steps were appropriately detailed in Jon Martello’s journey of porn addiction. But what was most rewarding about watching this movie, besides the excellent acting and colorful (and then some!) script, was that it was clear that Jon’s addiction to porn was really a symptom of his emotional immaturity and fear of intimacy.

Jon was unable to form a true partnership with a woman, and on account of his immaturity and self-centeredness, had little desire to do so. And his perfunctory religious practices only made matters worse, as they “absolved” him of any useful guilt that might have prompted him to change. Neither was the church helpful in guiding him toward any kind of meaningful introspection, which might have helped him awaken sooner to the error of his ways.

Jon’s behavior changed when he not only lost his girlfriend but began to experience the intimacy that he was avoiding through his addiction to anonymous and inauthentic sex online. The contrast between true intimacy and cheap sex was stark enough for him to take notice.

Jon had many deeply ingrained perceptions of himself, of his relationships with women, his relationship with his parents and with religion that subconsciously fueled his need for escape through online porn.

His awakening happened amidst an environment of safety, love and vulnerability that was provided by another woman in the movie that enabled him to examine his misperceptions. In our experience, it is only in an environment of safety and love that true healing can occur.

No addict wants to be addicted. It’s a compulsion born out of perceived need – not a need for the addiction itself, but for the relief and escape that the addiction provides.

Don Jon was a well scripted, acted, and directed movie (but be forewarned about the strong sexual content.) Its message about healing addiction through heart-to-heart connection and personal growth is on target. It’s a great reminder to anyone who struggles with the innumerable temptations of life.

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