Book Review: Life After Lust

Book Review_ Life after Lust-2

Life after Lust: Stories & strategies for sex & pornography addiction recovery 

By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP

Reviewed by Darlene Viggiano, Ph.D. (LMFT)

Citation:

Benedict, F. (2017). Life after Lust. CA, Fresno: Visionary Books

ISBN: 0-9984682-1-5

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: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

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Life After Lust Audiobook Announcement & Request for Reward Ideas

LAL Audio

Friends,

I have EXCITING NEWS!

The Life After Lust Audiobook Kickstarter project will begin in about a week! Check out my VLOG Announcement to learn more about the details of this fun project.

Also, I HAVE A REQUEST…I have put together some great rewards for those wishing to contribute to this cause but I really would love to know what rewards you would be interested in. Again, check out the video for further explanation and to learn about some of the awesome rewards that are already planned.

I look forward to sharing this experience with all of you. I also look forward to hearing stories of lives touched and changed as a result of listening to the hopeful message of Life After Lust.

Gratefully,
Forest

PS: To follow this story, I invite you to follow this blog and sign up on the Life After Lust Newsletter

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Fighting Lust with Love: How to Honor, Not Objectify

Fighting Lust with love

Lust is my drug of choice. This has been true for me since adolescence. It helped me cope with life’s challenges but in the end brought many more. Now that I’m in recovery, fighting lust is a daily ideal. Some days are better than others, but I continue to aim for this attainable achievement.

A few days ago I took on a personal challenge, practicing a technique that boosted my ability to fight lust through actively honoring others. I told this story and explained the technique in more detail in my newest VLOG called “Fighting Lust with Love: How to Honor, Not Objectify.”  Click here to watch it and learn more about this powerful tool.

These efforts will all be worth it. As I wrote in my book, “For those ready for recovery, it is time to abandon life under the influence of lust. It is time to lay down our cheap coping mechanisms, taking up strategies that strengthen us. As we leave lust behind, we begin to see ahead the hopeful makings of a new life. We begin to taste the unrivaled satisfaction of life after lust” (Benedict, 2017).

To learn more strategies for battling lust, porn, and sex addiction I invite you to check out my book Life After Lust. Thank you for reading, watching, and joining me in this life-changing adventure.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

How I Made History Today: First Male Guest on Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast

How i made history today_ A podcast interview-2

Today I enjoyed the privilege of being interviewed on the Betrayal Trauma Recovery Podcast. As Anne introduced me, she shared that I was their first male guest in the history of the podcast, an honor I do not take lightly. Our episode will go public in a couple of weeks (I’ll definitely share it here). To be one of the first to listen, you can subscribe to their podcast. Listening to past episodes, I realized the BTR podcast is a goldmine for those seeking help with healing from betrayal trauma.

Today’s episode will provide hope and inspiration to all recovering partners. We talked about some essential topics and I shared how my book Life After Lust is a valuable resource for partners (click here for one partner’s review). I look forward to sharing this historic interview with you all very soon!

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

The Ethics of Sex: Fresno Bee Article & Radio Interview

Fresno Bee Hustler Article (crop)
This week I had two great opportunities to share my professional and personal perspectives on the local radio and newspaper. I’m grateful for these opportunities and and would love to share them with you.

If you’ve read my book Life After Lust, you’re aware that one component of the book is inviting people to stand against the porn-industry as they recover, learning to connect with their values. The following two resources reflect my personal response to Hustler’s move into my city. My hope is that this will inspire others to live in alignment with their highest values, whether standing against the porn-industry or doing other meaningful work in the world.

Check out the following two resources:

The Trevor Carey Radio Show (Note: My participation in this show does not mean I endorse its political views)

The Fresno Bee (in print too) – The ethics of sex: Hefner & Hustler had them half right  (potential photo trigger warning), based on this well-read article which received over 650 views

May these resources encourage you as you recover from life’s hurts and learn to live in alignment with your values. Please share with anyone who would benefit.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

 

 

Blogger Writes Stellar Book Review (Life After Lust)

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I am grateful to share with you a stellar review of Life After Lust by my friend and fellow-warrior Melody Bergman on her Mama Crossroads blog. In her review, she shares the unique story of how we met each other as well as explaining how Life After Lust is helpful to various populations (addicts, partners, and parents). As you’ll see, Melody reflects honestly about how readable the book is, writing:

“Imagine checking your favorite blog every day, but each post also features helpful tips to incorporate into your life. That’s basically how the chapters in Life After Lust are formatted. So it ends up feeling more like a pleasure read than a boring, dry textbook.”

I invite you to take a few minutes to read this generous review, learn about Melody, and discover a new perspective on Life After Lust (click here to read). As always, please share this resource with others.

Gratefully,
Forest

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagramPinterestGoogle+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

The Recovering Addict’s Guide to Ethical Sex: Hefner and Hustler Had it Half Right

A Guide to Great Sex_ Heffner & Hustler Didn't Know the Half of It-5

Since boyhood, I’ve had a strong sense of moral justice. Whether putting myself in timeout for breaking the rules, saving stray animals from the streets, or buying food for the hungry, a virtuous character was the internal compass of my younger years.

Then came the season of sex addiction. This was a time of inner turmoil, as I pursued pleasures at the expense of myself and others. Believing in what was right, I too often ran to what was wrong. I lived an incongruent life and the shame of it was like leprosy in my soul.

In my early twenties, my path took an abrupt turn when I chose to pursue a new passion: my recovery. As I experienced the healing and wholeness I desired and deserved, I became more of the person I always was. I reconnected with myself and my values. I learned to live in alignment.

Now, as a sex addiction therapist, I help many others do the same. As people recover, they become who they really want to be and who they really are. They might become that woman who can finally be trusted, that father who learns to connect with his kids, that leader who walks with integrity in his step, or that person sharing a smile with the lovable human grinning back at them from the mirror. Where their agenda to numb-out was once self-seeking, the recovering sex addict learns to adopt new attitudes of humility, caring, and courage.

The process of recovery is the process of aligning with oneself. In recovery, our most valued principles are no longer led away to the slaughter. Instead, we learn to live them out, one day at a time.

In my book Life After Lust I explained how learning to live in alignment with our values is a major “Mission to Accomplish” in recovery. I wrote:

“As we grow in our recovery, we learn who we are and we gain the courage to live that out. No longer are we bound by secrecy, constantly trying to cover up choices that cause us shame. In recovery, we learn to live with integrity. We are the same person in the dark that we are in the light…The more we live in alignment, the greater our inner peace.”

In recovery, we seek alignment in all areas of our lives. A life well-lived is actualized at the convergence of both our sexual and moral values. Thus, making choices based on our sexual values is an act of misalignment if it violates our moral values. While this scenario describes much of the sex addict’s acting out, in active recovery we learn a new lifestyle. In recovery, we learn that sex aligned with our moral values is not only possible, but is far more satisfying than the disconnected, shame-filled, and secretive sex life of the past. Searching for the benefits of the best sex, we no longer look to lust for solutions that only compromise our character.

The Principles of the Porn-Industry

If I’m honest, the porn-industry has some sexual values right. Evaluating the ethics of porn-industry pioneers Larry Flynt and the late Hugh Hefner, I hypothesize that they highly esteemed sexual enjoyment, excitement, spontaneity, freedom, and fun. These values align with my views of an optimal sex life. I concur with them that our sexuality is to be celebrated, not shamed.

But that’s where our agreement ends. While a satisfying sex life is strengthened by some of these values, Hefner and Hustler only had it half right. The vision of sex they offered the world was paired with moral values that sucked the life out of society.  If you’re wondering what I mean by this, I’ve written about it this way:

“As a sexual addiction therapist, I continuously see the devastation caused by porn addiction. I sit with stunned spouses. I empathize with addicts caught in self-destructive cycles. I help resuscitate relationships ruined by pornographic obsessions and aid in the burial of relationships wounded beyond repair.

As a presenter on the harmful effects of porn, I see a younger generation that’s predominantly unprotected from it. I see our youth unknowingly auctioning off present and future intimacy as they immerse themselves in the internet. Porn changes their malleable brains, affecting everything from their studying to later-life sexual performance. Many are drowning in addiction. I do my best to protect my children from this destructive drug.

As a sexual addict in recovery, I’ve felt deep disconnection. I don’t blame the porn industry for my past addiction. I chose to soothe my pain in that way and I eventually chose help. But, sadly, I have seen demeaning acts charading as sex.

As a citizen who cares about the disenfranchised and defenseless, I believe the pleasures of porn are not worth those wounded by it. The porn industry might deny its ties to sex- trafficking, a trade that citizens heroically fight locally. Drug abuse, physical and psychological harm, and disease are commonplace; sexuality and humanity are commodities.

These characteristics grate against my most essential beliefs in love, freedom, and human worth. I adamantly oppose those who profit from such atrocities. I once contributed to this industry through my addiction – an uncomfortable reality I must wrestle with.

Yes, I have a problem with the porn industry” (Benedict, 2017).

Once enticed by the porn-industry’s promise of pleasure, I now see it as a morally-bankrupt mirage. As I continue to seek out my sexual values of passion, pleasure, and play, my recovery requires me to do so within the confines of my character.

So, when a porn-giant like Hustler makes a home in my city, offering gadgets and gizmos to spice up my sex life, I cannot consent with my cash. My funds will never fuel the fires of sexual exploitation. Thank you for offering, but I’ll pass on this Hustler. You may have a legal right to be here but not a moral right. If I buy anything to bolster my sex life, it will be from businesses not tied to objectification and degradation.

Mission to Accomplish # 3

Alignment in Action

In Life After Lust I call the recovering reader to master the practice of healthy sexuality, to live in alignment with their values, and to stand against businesses that profit from the porn-industry. The great news is that these tasks are not in conflict. In fact, I believe that the benefits of great sex are amplified when we act from a place of inner alignment.

Sexuality experts Drs Bill & Ginger Bercaw present this promising vision of a sexual life that is both exciting and ethical:

“You can know for perhaps the first time in your entire life what it feels like to embrace a passionate and fully satisfying sex life while retaining your integrity and while being more fully present.”

We can savor a healthy sex life without stepping on our values. We can have the best of both worlds. Within the boundaries of our values, we can seek out the best sex of our lives.

Where You’ll Find Me

This Saturday, a porn-producing pioneer is visiting our fine city of Fresno for Hustler’s “grand opening” event. Meeting Larry Flynt in person with my “Porn Kills Love” T-shirt and picket sign would absolutely align with my values. But this time I am choosing a different approach. My protest will come through my promotion of love on that day. My plan Saturday is to man a LifeSTAR booth at Fresno’s Recovery Summit, sharing the hopeful message of freedom from sex addiction and inviting others to join me in aligned living, as we pursue together the purposeful path of Life After Lust.

What I am facing in my community is one of many opportunities to stand up to an industry in conflict with our collective best interests. What a wonderful way for me to return to my roots, reclaiming an internal sense of justice. And I am grateful to report that I am far from alone in this mission. There is a groundswell of gifted individuals coming together in this pro-love, anti-porn Movement. Living in alignment with our values, we are changing the world, one victory at a time.

Join us.

 

*To learn more about the ideas presented in this article and more, check out the inspirational new book Life After Lust.

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

 

Life After Lust Just 99 cents!

Life After Lust Sale

If you do not yet have a Kindle copy of Life After Lust, now is a great time to get your copy for only 99 cents! It will be on sale all week (gradually going up in price). Each download helps me go up in the Amazon ranks, which is greatly appreciated.

If you’re wondering why I’m celebrating, check out my latest VLOG:

Thank you for your support of this worthy cause. Please share this news with others.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Lust is a Lie

Lust of the mind and eyes never satisfies. The more we indulge, the more we desire.

From the chapter “The Lie of Lust” in Life After Lust (2017). Share with someone who needs this reminder.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

What My Wife Is Worth (Essential Mindset #13)

My partner is worth my best recovery efforts.-2

Essential Mindset #13 in Life After Lust (2017). From the chapter “What My Wife is Worth.” Share if you agree.

Learn many other ways to fight for your partner’s heart, check out my new book Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies For Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutube, BlogTwitter, Facebook, LinkedInInstagramPinterest, Google+StumbleUpon, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!