Recommended Books for Sex/Porn Addicts and Partners

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By Scott Brassart

As part of my work with Sex and Relationship Healing and our parent organization, Seeking Integrity, I do a lot of research on addiction and the process of recovery. In addition to staying current with recent studies in scholarly journals, I read a whole lot of books. When I like a book, I make a mental note to write a review of it for Sex and Relationship Healing and I place the book in a ‘to be shared’ pile on my desk. Yesterday, my cat knocked over the pile, which seemed like a sign from my Higher Power that maybe I should find a way to mark this task off my to-do list. What follows are capsule reviews of recent reading that I recommend for recovering sex and porn addicts, and for betrayed partners of sex and porn addicts.

My cat Lily and the restacked pile of books.

Wack: Addicted to Internet Porn, by Noah B.E. Church

Noah Church, a recovering porn addict and recovery coach, interweaves personal experience with hard-won knowledge about what porn addiction is, how it affects us, and how to overcome it. He explores the science of porn addiction, the ways in which porn addiction escalates, porn-induced erectile dysfunction, loss of interest in real-world sexuality, the pathway to healing, and much more. If you worry about compulsive porn use, this book is a must-read.

Addict America: The Lost Connection, by Dr. Carol Clark

Dr. Carol Clark is head of the International Institute of Clinical Sexology. As a therapist, she specializes in sex addiction, transgender issues, and trauma work. In her book, she examines the emotional and interpersonal disconnection that is a primary element of all types of addiction. My favorite part of the book is her discussion of how we use technology as a drug. Sex, love, and porn addicts will easily identify with this.

Help. Her. Heal. An Empathy Workbook for Sex Addicts to Help Their Partners Heal, by Carol Juergensen Sheets

Better known as Carol the Coach, Carol Juergensen Sheets works with sex/porn addicts and betrayed partner as a therapist and coach. She also has extremely popular podcasts for sex addicts and betrayed partners. Her book is written to help recovering sex and porn addicts in long-term relationships understand their addiction, their partner’s experience, why it’s so important to develop empathy as part of their recovery, and how to go about that. For an in-depth discussion of this book and empathy in general, see Dr. Rob’s conversation with Carol on PsychCentral.com.

It’s Not About the Sex: Moving from Isolation to Intimacy After Sexual Addiction, by Andrew Susskind

Andrew Susskind is a Los Angeles based clinician specializing in somatic experiencing, brainspotting, group therapy, and sexual issues. It’s Not About the Sex recognizes a basic fact of addiction: that we don’t engage in addictive behaviors to feel good, we do it to feel less – to escape feelings of loneliness, abandonment, and the like. Andrew shares his own and others’ experience with sexual addiction as he discusses the pathway to long-term healing.

Life After Lust: Stories and Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery, by Forest Benedict

Forest Benedict uses online group therapy to guide sexually addicted individuals in the state of California. Life After Lust is a hopeful book that talks about the fact that sex addiction recovery is possible. Forest writes candidly about his personal journey of recovery and shares science-based strategies for successful sobriety and healing. Recovering sex and porn addicts will identify with this book and find it useful.

Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, by Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr is a globally recognized Catholic and Christian teacher focused on mystical and transformational traditions. But don’t let that scare you away from his book, which is much more about spirituality as understood in 12-step programs (God as you understand God) than any specific spiritual dogma or belief system. This book is useful to all recovering addicts and partners of recovering addicts, even those who self-identify as agnostic or atheist. It’s short, easy to read, and filled with quotable nuggets.

The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

Okay, this one isn’t a recovery book, per se, but I still find it useful. Lewis, who died in 1963, was a British scholar, writer, and 20th-century intellectual giant (perhaps best-known today as the author of the ‘Narnia’ books). The Screwtape letters is, as one might expect, a collection of letters from Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to ‘Our Father Below.’ The missives are directed to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon charged with securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. Though Lewis was unabashedly Christian in his beliefs, he was more than slightly aware of human foibles and eccentricities, seemingly all of which are uncovered and examined (in wonderfully tongue-in-cheek fashion) through Screwtape’s correspondence. Addicts should pay particular attention to Screwtape’s commentary on resentments.