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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Let’s Talk Trauma & Addiction – 2 New Podcasts

eye tear

Often those of us in recovery have survived a trauma-filled past. Whether it’s in the form of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, our past pains have a long-term impact on our lives and relationships.

This was certainly the case for me….and I’m starting to talk more openly about it these days.

In my two most recent podcast interviews, I had the opportunity to talk about my past pain in depth. If you’ve wondered about the link between trauma and addiction, I invite you to listen in:

Interview #1: Making an Addict podcast with sex addiction therapist D.J. Burr

Interview #2: Pure Sex Radio Podcast with Jonathan Daugherty of Be Broken Ministries
(Christian-based, much more trauma focused)

I hope you find these interviews enlightening and encouraging as you pursue your personal path from pain to purpose.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, subscribe to my Youtube channel, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Battling Lust at the Baseball Game (VLOG)

Battling lust

For those who don’t struggle with compulsive lusting, this video won’t make sense. Those seeking recovery from lust addiction will get it. Are you committed to acknowledging your vulnerabilities and making a battle plan for success? If so, you’ll find my vulnerable VLOG on preparing to battle lust helpful.

Click here to watch Battling Lust at the Baseball Game

Wondering how the game went? To view the follow-up video click here

I invite you to subscribe to my Youtube channel to receive future videos on sexual addiction recovery and Life After Lust.

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, is the author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, subscribe to my Youtube channel, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

New VLOG – Healing Through Accountability

Accountability is an essential part of a successful recovery plan and yet so many people resist implementing it. Check out my recent vlog where I share about my experience with accountability and why it is such a powerful modality for healing.

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley. If you benefited from this article, please “follow” me on this blog and on Twitter, “like” me on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Mastering Recovery

above-mountain

In my upcoming book “Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery” I emphasize the importance of mastery in recovery. For those seeking long-term change, I invite you to listen to the following podcast on “Mastering the Plateau” by Patrick Dean, MA. This lesson contains gems of wisdom that will help those in recovery persist in the practices that lead to lasting change. Enjoy!

*For announcements about the release date of “Life After Lust”, please follow this blog.

life-after-lust-newest-cover-2

Forest Benedict, MA, SATP-C, LMFT, Clinical Director of LifeSTAR of the Central Valley If you benefited from this article, please “follow” us on this blog and on Twitter, “like” us on Facebook, and SHARE this article and blog with others. Thank you!

Forest’s First Book is Almost Here!

fist pencil

It should be no surprise that my first book will be a resource for sexual addicts. What may be surprising is that 1.5 weeks ago I decided that if I can binge watch Netflix, then I can certainly binge write my first book and now it is nearly done! I look forward to sharing more as it progresses but I can tell you the following about my soon to be self-published book:

  1. It is an anthology of my best articles, including some new ones
  2. It is aimed at inspiring & equipping sexually addicted men & women
  3. In it I share in depth details about my personal trauma and recovery journey
  4. It is my hope that this work is a catalyst for personal transformation and world change

I look forward to finishing and sharing this creative work of art & love with you soon!

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING book!

 

Healed for a Purpose

looking-up hope face
Over a decade ago I checked into a treatment program hoping to heal from a serious sexual addiction. A transformed life was Plan A. Plan B was a secret plot to escape to Las Vegas and drown myself in addictive self-destruction. My contingency plan never materialized because Plan A became my life’s mission. Ironically, my recovery path led me back to Las Vegas last weekend. I was not there to indulge an addiction but to train therapists to treat those who do. This is one of many mind-blowing miracles I’ve savored in my recovery. Out of my past pain has come my present purpose. This is the hope of healing.

When we are deep in addiction and trauma, we are blind to future hope. We cannot imagine living in the light when we feel lost in the night. It takes a bold imagination to take steps forward in recovery when we can’t predict where that path leads.

I cannot tell you where your recovery path will take you but I can promise you one thing: Through your recovery you’ll connect with your purpose. Healing is about far more than just managing triggers, but about stepping into a meaningful life. When we are no longer handcuffed by our impulses, we are free to love and live fully.

Are you willing to do the deep and difficult work of recovery today, holding tightly to the belief that you will benefit tomorrow?  

Are you willing to postpone present pleasure and persevere through present pain for the promise of future satisfaction? 

If you answer “yes” then I welcome you to a courageous journey of faith. Here we begin to believe in the unseen. We imagine a different future while persistently pursuing it. When our purposeful future find us, we will truly see that we’ve sacrificed nothing and gained everything. We wrestled for our recovery and it was worth it. We were healed for a purpose.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING Workbook!

A Lesson from the Olympics: Never Give Up

rio olympics

As the world prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we anticipate many memorable moments. We look back on past records broken and heroic stories, wondering what we will soon witness.

One historic story that brings me to tears is that of Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics. I won’t spoil it for you. Watch the video.

When you’re done, I urge you to think about your own life. What life challenge are you facing right now where you need a reminder to keep walking forward? What are you trying to do by yourself that can only be accomplished with the support of others?

Sounds like the recovery journey, doesn’t it?

Regardless of our personal struggles and setbacks, may we all find the support we need to keep moving forward toward our personal finish line. Together, we can make it….if we never give up.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING Workbook!

Giving Us All Permission to Rest

amazing tree

As a person in recovery, I find it very hard to give myself the rest and relaxation I need. What comes naturally for me is overcommitment and overachievement. I too often prioritize productivity over caring for myself responsibly. I know I am not alone in this. Flores writes that addicts “demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves” (Flores, 2004). Learning the lifestyle of effective self-care takes continuous effort. For me, it is a journey of constant course correction.

Thankfully, my body tells me when I am maxing out my resources and my capacity for productivity. I have learned to see addictive cravings as signals that something is not right inside of me. When those signals go off, it is time to act. If I do not respond with attention, curiosity, and care, I know I am on the road to relapse.

In her book Running On Empty, Dr Jonice Webb shares that “adults who were emotionally neglected as children often don’t know what their needs are. Their own wants, needs, and feelings are not only irrelevant to the emotionally neglected, they’re invisible.” Since nearly 100% of sexual addicts were emotionally neglected in early life, it makes sense how we learned to neglect ourselves.

Dr Webb recommends finding “healthy self-soothing strategies”that fit each individual’s needs.  They could range from going for a walk in the woods, praying or meditating, writing or journaling, exercising, playing with a pet, taking a bath, reading in a hammock, or gardening. The possibilities are endless (for more ideas click here). We can seek and find the non-addictive and non-stressful activities that meet our deepest needs.

We can learn how to love ourselves in many ways, as part of our daily rituals and in times of heightened stress. We can seek the support we need and remind ourselves that today is a great day to begin again. This self-compassionate and self-supportive approach will help us get off of the hamster-wheel of performance and pay attention to the things that are most needed.

May we all learn to tune in to the needs of our body, mind, and soul, investing in the much needed care that will soothe our wounds and wholly rejuvenate us.

I officially give us all permission to rest.

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C originally published here

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!

The 4 Secrets of a Successful Summer Vacation (In Recovery)

Fireworks Secrets of Successful Recovery Image

Summer is often a season of travel and time away from regular responsibilities. For those of us in recovery, vacations can be filled with new temptations and triggers. When we neglect our recovery routines and indulge in everything our eyes desire, we dance with danger. For me, late nights and lack of structure can quickly lead to lust binges and weakened self-control. I can also slip into states of disconnect and self-neglect when I do not remain intentional in my recovery work. For those who experience similar vulnerabilities on vacation, here are 4 secrets for a successful summer:

  1. Scan & Plan – With new environments come new temptations and triggers. Scan new scenery for situations that could take you out. Alert your accountability partners to emerging challenges, communicating your proactive plan to evade them. Rather than being a victim to vulnerable circumstances, remain responsible, mindful, and vigilant.
  2. Stay Connected – Avoid behaviors and experiences that disconnect you from those you love, including yourself. Stay connected to your feelings, your values, your accountability, God, and those around you. Celebrate in such a way that your future self will thank you, not resent you.
  3. Care for Yourself – Remain faithful to your self-care structures, remembering that “while there is an obvious vacation from regular schedules and responsibilities, there is never a vacation from essential recovery routines.”. Self-care may include seeking solitude and healthy self-soothing when triggered or over-stimulated.
  4. Make Meaningful Memories– Recovery is not just about avoiding self-destruction but also about the construction of a full life. This too takes intentionality, since addicts “demonstrate an almost complete inability to relax and enjoy themselves” (Flores, 2004). Learning how to have fun without lust, excessive sugar, and other “drugs” of choice is a significant challenge of recovery. Investing in guilt-free memories with those we love will lay the foundation of a new and meaningful life.

    May all who of us on the road to healing enjoy a summer strengthened by solid recovery.

    I wish all readers a summer of celebration and an incredible Independence Day!

    For additional articles on this topic, check out the following links:

Recovery on the Road: Preparing for The Temptations of Travel

Holiday Recipes for Relapse & Recovery (Revised)

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The Neuroscience of Self-Care

-By Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP-C

Please FOLLOW my blog and find me on Facebook and Twitter for future posts and announcements about my UPCOMING BOOK!