Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Nature of Addiction

Today people say childhood masturbation is natural.  It's ok as long as you teach your child to touch him or herself when others cannot see.  Even parenthood websites and medical advice may point you in this direction.

From my experience, I can testify to you, this mentality is very wrong.  I have seen the effects this can have on the body.  When the brain practices one way of thinking for a long time, the neurons become larger and it creates a highway in your brain.  You have lots of side roads, but those that are used the most become the highways.  Addictive behaviors are highways, and other more natural behaviors become the side roads.  In my case, I have a big highway in my brain now for self gratification.  I don't use it very often anymore, but it's still a highway, and I'm now trying to widen the road of marital intimacy, and it's going to take lots of time.

May I also add that the body practices with the brain.  So, an addicts body has learned to respond only to what it knows best.  It simply won't respond as readily to a side road in the brain then it will to the highway.

I know someone who is married to a military man.  They attended a conference together about military marriage, and the expert there informed them that the advice men were given before to masturbate while away for long periods of time is now becoming more and more apparent to be bad advice because this bad habit is ruining marital intimacies between couples.  Men are coming back having built a highway in their brain and retrained their bodies to respond in ways that are not compatible to a healthy marital relationship.

Furthermore, habits that are also addictive in nature (because they create chemicals in the brain similar to drugs, but are more powerful because they are also natural) also becoming a coping mechanism under stress.  (Pornography can be categorized here, although I haven't ever allowed myself to personally succumb to this temptation I know that because of the nature of my own addiction it would have a strong hold on me if I ever did.)
Much of this information on the brain can be found in this book called He Restoreth My Soul, by Donald L. Hilton, Jr., MD

When a normal brain is met with stress, the natural reaction is to enter fight or flight mode.  When studies have been made on the brain, rational thought is located in the frontal area of the brain.  Fight or flight mode is located in an entirely different place within the brain.  This is why when someone enters fight or flight mode, they are no longer thinking rationally, but are acting purely on emergency instinct.

But the addict under stress, instead of entering fight or flight mode, goes to the addictive behavior.  This is why an addict to something like heroine may do something absolutely unthinkable in order to obtain a fix.  Afterward they may even say "I don't know what I was thinking." and be completely bogged down in guilt and despair, but still completely out of control.  It's because when they enter that stress mode, they leave rational thought and things are completely out of control.  Having this understanding has helped me to understand why an addict needs help and is powerless to conquer the addiction alone.  Step 1.

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