Life after Lust: Stories & strategies for sex & pornography addiction recovery
By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP
Reviewed by Darlene Viggiano, Ph.D. (LMFT)
Benedict, F. (2017). Life after Lust. CA, Fresno: Visionary Books
Life after Lust is a self-help, how-to book offering the personal story of a therapist in recovery from sex and pornography addiction, and the strategies he uses to maintain his own sobriety as well as helping others to recover. The book is highly relevant to both recovering and professional readers today due to the current, high profile and widely prevalent issues across the country surrounding porn, infidelity, and sexual intimacy for couples.
Women will be able to use this book, and the language is gender-neutral throughout, including concepts like self-compassion and self-care, such that females will benefit from reading it. However, it does not include women’s perspectives. The book’s strengths and weaknesses include a poignant focus on the attention and care a man must give to himself and his recovery, on the one hand, with insufficient priority to the role of couples’ recovery in this process, on the other.
The book’s primary value, therefore, lies in the systematic help it provides to those who want to gain freedom from lust-bound living on a daily basis. It does not claim to be a couples’ book. However, as a professional with expertise in both sex addiction and trauma, and as a woman who has experienced the effects of male objectification, it would be wonderful to see a companion book that walks the couple through recovery in the same way that this book does so very well for addicts. Fortunately, the book mentions a planned follow-up workbook, called Healing Through Connection, aimed at emphasizing couples’ work.
Benedict’s current thesis is that men can have a fulfilling life, untethered from lust, by developing certain mindsets, mastering particular strategies, and choosing and maintaining a love-based mission, all of which the author demonstrates clearly and succinctly. Perhaps, however, the book is a bit too succinct. It would be useful to see sample responses to some of the excellent queries the author poses, so that the book does not become a series of hoops through which the recovering person must jump. Overall, though, the author succeeds in demonstrating a strong theme. What follows are examples of how Benedict accomplishes this.
First, Benedict introduces the concept of “prelapse,” warning those in recovery of the dangers of passivity as opposed to vigilance. Second, he delves into the various core beliefs about oneself that hinder a person in recovery. Third, he offers 19 key mindsets a recovering person must develop, as well as a path for building them.
Another strength is that Benedict uses his own journey to light the way for others, a very noble and effective technique. The power of this method is that it forces the author and the reader to deal head-on with the issue of stigma. Benedict uses several worthy metaphors to help himself and readers fight back against stigma, such as “rising from the pit.” Thus, stigma becomes less of an excuse and more of a challenge to face social shame with the honesty that can only arise when addicts have asked themselves, and answered from the soul, the hard questions—such as those about intention to objectify.
The book asks the reader to do a lot of writing, but is not set up as a workbook, which would be a preferred format for this work. It also provides a focus on parts work, such as dealing with the “evil genius” inside the addict. Benedict characterizes this part as the one that uses deceit, euphoric recollection, and malevolent inventiveness or trickery. The author does not spare this inner demon any quarter against inquiry, taking a Socratic method to the task of recovery. He encourages recovering addicts to throw this part “under the bus,” and offers options for meeting needs without meeting defeat.
There is so much more in favor of this book than space will allow. For example, the book includes a 52-week plan, a significant structural resource for clinicians and clients that makes it useful as part of a recovery curriculum. Suffice it to conclude, however, that Benedict provides a way for addicts to attend to their pain, pollute their fantasies, face reality, and escape from lust to a life repurposed toward love.
Posted by Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: Newsletter, Youtube, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!