Sexual Addiction Reading List
The following books and articles are suggested to help pornography users and their spouses or family members. Note: Except for the Ensign articles listed below, these resources are not official Church publications.
Books to Help Pornography Users
• Confronting Pornography: A Guide to Prevention and Recovery for Individuals, Loved Onces, and Leaders, edited by Mark Chamberlain, Dan Gray, and Rory Reid
• Willpower Is Not Enough: Why We Don’t Succeed at Change, Dean Byrd and Mark Chamberlain
• Putting on the Armor of God, Steven A. Cramer
• The Worth of a Soul: A Personal Account of Excommunication and Conversion, Steven A. Cramer
• Turn Yourselves and Live, Rod W. Jeppsen
• Line upon Line, Precept upon Precept . . ., Rod W. Jeppsen
• Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior, Jeffrey M. Schwartz
• Wanting More: The Challenge of Enjoyment in the Age of Addiction, Mark Chamberlain
• The Drug of the New Millennium: The Brain Science behind Internet Pornography Use, Mark Kastleman
• Where Do You Draw the Line?: An Exploration into Media Violence, Pornography, and Censorship, Victor Cline
• Breaking the Cycle of Compulsive Behavior, Martha Nibley Beck and John C. Beck
• Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery, Patrick Carnes
• He Did Deliver Me from Bondage, Colleen Harrison
• Out Of The Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction, Patrick Carnes
• Contrary to Love: Helping the Sexual Addict, Patrick Carnes
• Sexaholics Anonymous White Book
Books to Help Spouses and Family Members
• Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting, and Enjoying the Self, Charles Whitfield
• Discussing Pornography Problems with a Spouse: Confronting and Disclosing Secret Behaviors, Rory C. Reid and Dan Gray
• Dance of Intimacy: A Woman’s Guide to Courageous Act of Change in Key Relationships, Harriet Lerner
• Purity and Passion: Spiritual Truths about Intimacy That Will Strengthen Your Marriage, Wendy L. Watson
• After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful, Janis A. Spring
• How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To, Janis A. Spring
• Codependent No More: Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself, Melody Beattie
• Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief, Rod W. Jeppsen
Articles to Help Pornography Users and Their Loved Ones
• “The Sanctity of Womanhood,” Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 2000, 36–38
• “Finding the Way Back,” Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 1990, 74–76
• “Focus and Priorities,” Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 2001, 82–84
• “Revelation in a Changing World,” Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Nov. 1989, 14–16
• “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1996, 21–23
• “Tangled in the Web,” Name Withheld, Ensign, Aug. 2001, 48–51
• “You Can’t Pet a Rattlesnake,” David E. Sorensen, Ensign, May 2001, 41–42
• “The Pornography Trap,” Victor Cline and Brad Wilcox, Marriage and Families, Sept. 2002, 10
• “Leave the Obscene Unseen,” R. Gary Shapiro, Ensign, Aug. 1989, 26–29
• “A Tragic Evil among Us,” Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 2004, 59–62
• “Pornography,” Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, May 2005, 87–90
Sexual Addiction Reading List
The books and articles on this page are suggested to help pornography users, their spouses and family members, and even ecclesiastical leaders. These resources are categorized by (1) books to help pornography users, (2) books to help spouses and family members, and (3) articles to help pornography users and their loved ones. Please note that no self-help book has all the answers or all the truth. They should be used as an adjunct to ecclesiastical and professional assistance.
(A very special thank you to an anonymous blogger from morefreedomblog.wordpress.com for allowing me to feature this article.)
Codependency is a universal underlying addiction that I found out about around a year after giving up the addiction (as do many others I have talked to). Just as removing the primary surface addiction reveals resentments and fears, removing some of those things then reveals codependent behaviors. I’ve found codependent behaviors in marriage, parenting, facilitating, sponsoring, or pretty much any human relationship I’ve been involved with.
So, what is codependency? In my experience, codependency is when I am dependent upon someone else for my happiness or self-worth. They, in turn, can be dependent on me for their happiness, turning it into a vicious cycle. I can be dependent on others for my happiness because of lies that I believe. For example, if I believe that my worth and worthiness comes from my wife’s opinion of me, then I will feel a deep need to control her opinion of me. If my worth and worthiness can be based on my relationship with God, then what other people think won’t matter as much, and I won’t feel a need to control them or be controlled by them as much. So as my faith in Christ and His atonement increases through working my program and being in recovery, my codependence (and all other addictions) gradually lose their power over me.
Often, codependency can be motivated by avoiding consequences. So a wife might control her husband, so he doesn’t act out his addiction and destroy their family. This was satan’s argument from the beginning. If you give people freedom, they’ll make bad choices, and bad outcomes will happen. There could be a world of reasons to control outcomes. Does the wife think she’s a failure or not attractive enough to hold the marriage together an make it successful? Is she taking her husband’s problems on her own shoulders? Codependency can be very messy because it strikes at the heart of all of our hopes, fears, and desires for our lives and so we control those around us to protect what we think is the proper future for ourselves. I’ve found it to be better to have appropriate healthy boundaries and for each person in the relationship to seek God in the context of those healthy boundaries instead of reaching into each other’s areas of stewardship and trying to steer their lives for them. It takes a lot of support and wisdom from others who have experience overcoming codependency to navigate these troubled and confusing waters most efficiently.
Perhaps a few examples will clear up this abstract idea. The wife of a person addicted to pornography could feel her self-worth disappear when her spouse acts out his addiction. Thus, her happiness is tied to his acting out or not acting out. When she is sad or angry because he has faltered, he can also become unhappy. When I need someone else to be or behave a certain way for me to be happy, I then feel a need to control his or her behavior, so that I can be happy.
So, a wife may feel the need to control what her husband does or experiences so that he won’t falter so that she won’t be so miserable. A husband, knowing that his wife depends on him not acting out his addiction, might decide to control her environment by not being truthful with her so she can be happy so he can be happy. I have found that control or unrighteous dominion is one result of codependency.
In one case, I personally was dependent upon my wife being in a good mood for me to be happy. She was dependent upon the kids being obedient for her to be in a good mood. Therefore, I had to control the kids to make them obedient so that my wife would be happy so that I would be happy. Once one of my kids figured out what I was doing, I stopped controlling the kids, but quickly resorted to telling my wife what to do to control the kids. So, my codependency was now four levels deep: I controlled my wife to control the kids to be obedient to keep her happy so that I could be happy. Codependency can get really confusing. I have found that the Spirit of God is not with me when I engage in the powerful addiction of codependency.
In the context of facilitating a 12-step group, my happiness may be dependent upon how well people in the group are doing or how big the group is getting or how much people in the group praise what I’m doing or how smart they think I am. If this is the case, I may feel that I must preach or give the members of the group a sales pitch to save them from walking away from the group meetings because of ignorance or a lack of faith in the program or in Christ. This is a particularly deadly practice as I have seen the Spirit of God leave me as a facilitator as I resorted to this addiction of codependency. Without the Spirit, nothing else matters. It is very easy for me as a facilitator to become a savior or salesman for the group when I’m struggling with codependency issues.
One of the main focuses of the family support groups (that go along with the 12-Step groups for the addicts) is overcoming codependency. Many times, it’s easy for family members to become addicted to monitoring and trying to control the addict’s behavior because their own happiness is dependent upon the addict’s behavior. When codependent, the family member can become miserable each time the addict falters. So, the family member, not wanting to be unhappy, will try to control or “help” the addict to not fail. From what I have learned from people who attend these family support groups, they learn to rely on God for their happiness instead of relying on the performance of an imperfect human. They become happier and less controlling because they don’t need to anymore because their happiness comes from their dependence upon God and Jesus Christ.
The only way I have found to overcome codependency is to work the steps and try to be aware of when I’m controlling and surrender my will to do that. As my faith in Christ increases, unhealthy dependence upon other people decreases and that seems to be the only way out – just like any other addiction, but codependency seems to permeate every relationship I have in one way or another, and I have found that escaping this addiction little by little is very rewarding and liberating.
In my home town where I grew up, in the news it was reported recently that a man took his life who was involved in horrible sexual and pornographic crimes. It sickened me when I had learned what he had done, I hurt for his victims, I hurt for his wife, his family. Oh, how this hurts. I also hurt for this man who once was a young man needing help. I have no idea of the particulars of what was done or not done. This is not a judgement piece. I just know there are peoples hearts that have been broken on all sides and there always is whenever anything of this magnitude happens.
Every time I see a story like this I think what more can I do to help prevent such tragedy. The obvious answer is to stay away from pornography all together, but so many are already ensnared. The truth is I am but one. We all need to do our part. We all can do better.
I know my home town community has a thriving recovery program. I know many communities have Addiction Recovery Programs. If you discover a son, daughter, friend or spouse has this problem, tell them about the LDS Addiction Recovery Program. Offer to be a support and go with them and support them in their recovery. Participate with them in overcoming any personal shortcoming you may have.
If your youth are struggling especially be proactive in helping them in recovery. We can’t afford to turn our heads and look the other way. The programs are confidential and inspired for anyone who is ready to make changes through the help of our Savior. Youth 16 and older may go to the 12 ARP program if they are accompanied by a parent. Never let fear of what others will think deter you from seeking help. Joining with a community of others, who are seeking to overcome their addictions will give you an added strength that you can’t find when trying to overcome on your own.
I love the Addiction Recovery Program and testify that there is such an incredible spirit of love found in these meetings. The healing power of the Savior can be found as one goes through each step. There is no shame in attending them and seeking healing and help. The real shame lies in grieving the loss of another brother/sister or seeing the pain of another victim. We all can do much better. With many hands we can help partner with the Savior in healing many hearts.