One of the great mysteries in human behavior is when an individual does things that contradict
their own value system.
Most young men who seek treatment for sexual addictions have a strong desire to serve an LDS mission, get married in an LDS temple and aspire to become worthy fathers and strong spiritual leaders.
Many are flabbergasted when they are unable to stop behaviors that severely contradict their values.
There are many philosophical explanations for this phenomenon.
Prayer and study have brought the following powerful understandings, allowing me to successfully
work with young men recovering from addiction.
The definition of psychology, (psych = “spirit” and ology =”the study of”) is: “The study of the
spirit.” Unfortunately, most professionals have ignored the spiritual element of successfully
creating interventions for sexual addiction.
I am convinced that men are good by nature and because of their spiritual heritage, have a
natural desire to be good.
It is an intelligent, skilled adversary that influences us to engage in self destructive behavior that destroys our personal relationships with God, ourselves, and those we love.
We call this adversary, Satan.
Satan is a military strategist. One of his main strategies for winning the war is to take out the opposing leaders. The young men he targets in our day tend to have one thing in common: They are a major threat to Satan!
Each has vital skills and characteristics that intimidate the enemy.
This adversary has learned that if you want to wipe out future leaders, you do it while they are young. Instead of physically killing our youth, he has found a way to enslave them with addictive chemicals, without them even knowing.
He also learned that the temptation strategies similar to the fighting methods the British used in the Revolutionary War are too obvious and easy to defend. He makes adjustments congruent with his alibi the “most subtle of the beasts of the field” to tempt a young man to engage in misbehaviors.
He has learned to use Vietnam-style, guerilla warfare, sneaking around in the shadows of our minds using modern technology to ensnare his victims. That started at least 40 years ago and has been insufficient for his objectives.
Satan has since refined his devious strategies. Let me introduce a piece of self-made fiction to illustrate the most recent advancement in Satanic Warfare….
Imagine with me a fictional story taking place in a Book of Mormon setting, nestled in the middle of the war chapters. In our story, the Lamanites have lost another battle and are encamped one to two miles outside a Nephite city. In camp, the Lamanites are complaining, bandaging their wounds and swearing oaths that they will win next time!
Enter a nerdy Lamanite (with thick glasses and a pocket protector). Out of the forest he comes carrying an unusual plant. He approaches the leader of the Lamanite army and says, “Hey, look at this cool plant! If we rub it into the water source of the Nephites, we can get them stoned!”
The leader of the Lamanites says, “I don’t know what that means, but let’s try it!”
They find the crystal clear stream of water that winds its way into the Nephite city and gradually rub the plant into the water.
In the mean time, Captain Moroni is in the city having his men do drills: push-ups, sit-ups, running laps, and spear throwing. Hot and sweaty, they refresh themselves by drinking the cool water.
Five days pass. The leader of the Lamanites decides it is time to attack the city. Captain Moroni sees them coming and calls to his men, “Charge!”
When he looks back, he sees his men wobbling back and forth, trying to maintain enthusiasm and equilibrium. They are unable to wield their swords or think clearly. He calls out to his men, “Gentlemen, fight harder!”
Does this solve the problem?
“Gentlemen, fight smarter!”
Does this solve the problem? No!
“Sing a hymn?”
You can imagine how this battle is going to end.
Bishops and stake presidents often ask me, “Maurice, these young men are well trained and have high values, why are they losing battles!?!?”
My short answer is, “They are stoned.”
All this time, we have thought that Satan only has the ability to affect our thoughts.
What you are going to find below is that Satan has learned how to alter brain chemistry, without asking our permission.
This “chemical warfare” is his most recent and most effective battle strategy. It is a very scary thought and, for a long time, we were unable to find an effective defense.
We thought, “Once an addict always an addict.” Now that we understand how he is doing this to our minds, we have found the necessary weaponry to fight back and win!
The Satanic Spin ~ the Cycle of Addiction
When people with addictions describe what they experience before a “lost battle,” a common pattern is revealed, a spin, resembling a downward spiral.
They describe it as if they are unknowingly being drugged.
I have discovered four elements to this Spin, each element feeding off the others.
There is a gradual acceleration and loss of control which finally culminates in the addict engaging in behavior contrary to their personal values.
Sadly, the scientific sophistication of this drift validates to me the existence of a cunning adversary who has refined his strategies for over 7000 years!
Before I proceed, a quick disclaimer: I have spent my professional career simplifying complex psychological concepts, so they are easily understood by the layman, especially teenagers. The concepts behind what you are about to read are scientifically sound. Please learn from the principles and you will find they resonate.
1. The Flash
The Flash – About 30 years ago a marketing company began an experiment in movie theaters. They cut out one frame of a film and inserted an advertisement in its place. The movie quickly scrolled (about 24 squares per second), the conscious brain overlooked the image, but the subconscious mind registered the idea. The audience was stimulated with an irresistible urge to purchase the advertised product. The experiment was so successful it was eventually outlawed.
In my office, I ask my clients to quietly listen for the sound of the ticking clock. Within seconds they hear the ticking and over the next few moments, the volume seems to grow louder.
I explain that the ticking does not actually grow louder; in fact, our brains register the ticking sound the entire time. We, however, don’t consciously perceive it.
Are there other ideas being thrown at our minds, similar to the movie theater frame and the quiet ticking of the clock? Is Satan truly, the most “subtle” of all the beasts of the field?
As do most Christians, we believe in inspiration. By definition it is the experience of having positive, motivating thoughts enter our minds from an external or divine source, the Holy Ghost.
Though not commonly discussed, we also believe Satan has similar power. Satan is able to insert ideas, pictures, thoughts, even full DVD’s of information into your subconscious mind.
It is very uncomfortable to discover that the most “subtle” of all the beasts of the field has learned how to throw ideas into our mind as fast as the movie theatre flash and as quiet as the ticking of the clock. If such thoughts had as little influence as a ticking clock, the results would not be so devastating.
2. The Chemical Spill
The Chemical Spill – Many have experienced driving a vehicle and seeing flashing lights in their rearview mirror. After the eye captures the image of the police car, the mind registers the meaning of the lights and sends a signal to the adrenal glands, releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream.
This entire process takes less than one second.
Even if the officer pulls past your car, it takes approximately 15 – 30 minutes for the body’s natural filtering systems to clean the chemicals out of the blood stream. In the mean time, the body continues having a noticeable physical reaction to the chemicals.
Now let’s alter our story.
You are back in the car, but this time a man from Africa, who has never seen a car, a road, or a police officer is in the passenger’s seat. Does he have the same adrenal reaction that you had? No! Why?
Because it is not the flashing lights that cause the adrenaline dump, it is an understanding of what the flashing lights represent that triggers the chemical reaction.
In other words, certain thoughts cause chemical reactions in the brain.
Unfortunately, Satan has also figured this out. Satan cannot read one’s mind but, after 7000 years, he has honed his skill of guessing what ideas (“Flashes”) will cause chemical reactions in an individual’s body.
With sexual addiction, his objective is for a release of what I call Deviant Sex Chemicals.
Unfortunately as a precursor, he works to manipulate other brain chemical dynamics, with the intent to increase negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, and boredom. These additional chemical reactions have a strong tendency to inhibit our resolve to fight off the deviant sex chemicals.
3. Partial Feelings/Emotions
Partial Feelings/Emotions – One thing that makes humans unique from computers is that body chemistry changes how one feels. We typically don’t notice chemical changes in our bodies (especially men), but we can identify changes in feelings and emotions. This is foreign to most men.
When trained to recognize subtle changes in body chemistry, one often describes it using the following words: Antsy, bored, irritable, frustrated, curious, anxious, depressed, lonely, angry, bugged, sexual deviancy.
Imagine that in your brain many little buckets exist, filled with chemicals. When these buckets are dumped, they can create a myriad of unique feelings.
When Satan identifies a young man as valiant and capable and he realizes that the Red Coat and the Vietnam strategies won’t work, he turns to Chemical Warfare.
He looks for an idea that will tip a bucket just enough to create a slight change in feelings.
A full chemical dump is too easy to perceive, thus a slight spill is preferred. He does not want the victim to have a full awareness of what is going on.
4. Filing Cabinets
Filing Cabinets – The human brain stores memories of everything you have ever seen, tasted, touched, smelled, felt or experienced in any way.
When you see a previous acquaintance that you cannot identify because of an incomplete memory, your brain begins asking, “Where have I seen this person before?” This process happens many times per second until you remember.
Similarly, when a single drop of chemical is spilled in the brain, it creates an incomplete set of feelings. When this happens, your brain asks many times per second, “Where have I felt this sensation before?”
The brain abhors the discomfort of an unsolved puzzle, so it keeps searching its files until it remembers a time when it had a similar feeling. A memory is found and instantly flashes in the mind, becoming the next “Flash” and the cycle of stimulation is reprocessed.
A second role of chemicals in the brain is to tell the brain in which area to heighten functioning and in which area to decrease functioning. As these uncomfortable and painful emotions build, the energy of the brain vacates the values part of the brain (frontal lobe) and the creative problem solving part of the brain (cerebral cortex).
The build-up of uncomfortable emotions masks the undercurrent of increasing deviant sex chemicals.
These two combined create the sensation of being “stoned”.
By the time the individual notices the invitation (thought) to do something against their value system, the will-power to fight against it has been lost. The frontal lobe is asleep and the mid-brain is ready to go. Conscious decision making has come to an end.
Satan holds his hands up and innocently says, “What? I wasn’t even there. It was your own choice to do something like that. There must be something wrong with you. You can’t even control yourself. What makes you think you will ever be useful? Give up on being a future leader.”
Spinning – The human brain processes this entire four-phase cycle in less than one second.
With every cycle, strong negative (painful) feelings are intensified.
The Chemical Scale
In the Chemical Scale diagram (below), is a scale ranging from zero to ten.
It is intentionally shaped like the edge of a whirlpool. An addict can identify how “stoned” he is by where he falls on the scale.
It is best understood by counting backward from:
10 – Crash. This is self explanatory. The addict has lost a battle.
6-9 – The Fall. We don’t talk much about this phase because there is not much to talk about. The addict is spiraling.
5 – The “forget it” moment. This is the moment in time when the individual stops fighting the temptation. His ability to remember his values is exhausted. (Action)
4 – The Irrational Conversation. “You know where this is headed.” “Yeah, I know.” “Probably should stop.” “Yeah, I know, I will in a minute….” This conversation or something like it is very familiar to addicts. It is part of the journey to level five and ultimately to level ten. (Words)
3 – The “Dude” moment. This is the first moment that the individual notices the thought to do something inappropriate. “Dude, your parents aren’t home.” “Dude, it’s been a while.” “Dude, it will make you feel better.” Text books call this the “trigger” moment.
Men tend to be thought oriented, so this is the first stage of the Chemical Scale they recognize. Unfortunately the individual has already gone through two levels of increased chemicals before they even notice what is happening to them. (Thoughts)
2 – Feelings. Deviant sex chemicals often carry a type of pain relieving sensation. In order to get the brain to accommodate the pain reliever, it needs to experience the pain.
Prior to reaching level three, the dominant feelings the addict experiences are not sexual, rather the painful, negative emotions as indicated in section 3 of the Satanic Spin model. Under the surface, deviant sex chemicals build. By the time the individual notices the invitation to betray his value system, he is too “stoned” to do anything about it.
1 – Chemicals. The initial spins are so subtle; the untrained addict does not notice them until it is too late.
What has not worked?
Historically, in the field of psychology, the solution to these addictions has been “thought control”.
The basis of this intervention is that when an individual has deviant thoughts, he should simply kick them out and replace them with constructive thoughts. This may be effective for someone who is not an addict; however, it lacks effectiveness for someone who is addicted and controlled by their body chemistry.
From a spiritual perspective, the use of “thought control” underestimates the power of Satan.
Satan’s primary weapon is his ability to affect our thought process.
It is unwise to pit a person with less than 100 years experience in thought control against the Satan’s 7000 years of practice.
It would be nice to stop the Satanic Flashes, but we learn in LDS scripture that God allows us to be enticed by both good and evil.
This part of the spin cannot be eliminated.
I often ask the question, “When will the Lamanites stop attacking the Nephites?”
The sobering answer, “When the Nephites are all dead.”
It would be nice to disconnect the flashes from the chemical spills, but even when we are able to disconnect a flash from a chemical spill, Satan simply finds new flashes.
Referring back to the Chemical Scale and the Satanic Spin, before the individual identifies they are under attack and becomes aware of their thoughts, they are already at level three. This means they are already under the influence of several chemicals.
It is like asking a drunken man to concentrate and drive his vehicle correctly. It is common for both drunks and addicts to believe they have control of their minds, when in reality they do not because they are “under the influence”.
What does work?
Since thought control is ineffective, what will work?
Everything I found in text books referred me to thought control. Nowhere was found any acknowledgment of a spiritual element in this war.
There appeared to be no solution to this problem.
Then I remembered a scripture I had heard many times: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.”
I learned during the first three years of my study of psychology that God is a good psychologist.
As I read my text books and asked Him to clarify the principles, I realized how smart God is!
After laboring through a period of time where I struggled for answers, God responded with a thought I had had before, “You are making it too complicated.”
Next came the thought; “What do you have that Satan does not have?”
After several inaccurate, overly complicated responses, I finally thought, “A body!”
He confirmed, “You are right!”
I thought, “But that seems to be the problem!”
He answered, “Go back to your textbooks and find out why your body is the answer.”
As I referred back to my text books, I remembered “all things are created both temporally and spiritually.”
Temporal can mean “of the body”.
I remembered from a chemistry class that certain chemicals neutralize each other. Going back to the Lamanite/Nephite story… what if before the Lamanites arrived at the city, one of Captain Moroni’s scientists discovered a different plant that when added to their drinks, neutralized the drug that had been added to the Nephite water supply?
With the drugs neutralized, the Nephite warriors would not have to be retrained; they would regain their strength and their values! The Nephite’s would surprise the Lamanites and continue in dominance!
Let’s look at practical application.
Instead of setting the alarm at the first awareness of deviant thoughts (level 3), the alarm is moved up the scale as close to zero as possible.
When the alarm is at level three, by the time an individual recognizes that their thoughts are deviant, it’s probably too late. The body is so full of the deviant chemicals that most of the will to win is already lost.
The signal the deviant chemicals send to the brain causes the energy to the brain to leave the frontal lobe (the values system) and move to the mid-brain (the animal).
In treatment, by moving the alarm up to levels one or two, the individual is alerted to chemical spills at the very earliest levels, prior to reaching the point of no return. (This increased discernment is one of the skills taught in the Sons of Helaman program.)
The warrior must learn to feel very subtle shifts in his brain chemistry and feelings.
When he does, his alarm goes off.
When the alarm goes off, the individual initiates a process of intentionally changing their body chemistry.
(Amazingly, this can be taught to 14 year olds!)
It has been observed that within the brain of men, there is another set of chemicals that have the power to neutralize and override the deviant sex chemicals.
This set of chemicals is released into the body when a man finds himself in a situation where a loved one is threatened physically and only physical intervention will protect them.
The term used to describe this chemical set is called “protective anger” or “warrior chemistry.”
It is both uncomfortable and invigorating.
It is a combination of anger, fear, love, determination, and ferocity.
This is the same response the men of the Book of Mormon used to protect their lives, wives and children: “Like dragons they did fight” (Mosiah 20:11).
In my experience, a man, young or old, not yet experiencing these chemicals associated with intense
ferocity, is not yet fighting hard enough.
In our culture, these warrior feelings/chemicals are rarely accessed, primarily because they are rarely needed. This can be both good and bad; however, it leaves our men untrained in its use.
In the Sons of Helaman program, young men are trained to use this defense quickly and instinctively. They learn to use techniques found in the military, sports and music.
As with the men of the Book of Mormon, our young warriors combine these temporal skills with their spiritual training, so they can kill Lamanites on Saturday and still be able to teach Priesthood on Sunday.
Here is how it works...
A young man is walking through his day doing good things, and Satan observes that if he stays on this path, he is going to become a significant contributor in the fight for good.
Satan starts by flashing ideas in the young man’s mind, almost instantly causing chemical reactions.
After a few spins, the trained warrior detects that his chemicals are being altered and almost instantly releases “warrior chemistry” to his mind.
The warrior chemistry overrides the deviant chemicals and the brain returns to normal. Values, creative problem solving and determination come back.
To finish off the enemy in this battle, the young men are trained to do something good in that moment of crises, above and beyond what they would typically do. If that activity makes a woman smile, it is even better.
Because one of Satan’s main goals with sexual addiction is to get women to feel bad and cry, anytime these warriors can make a woman smile, they have defeated the enemy!
Yes, he will be back, but we will continue to defeat him.
When a man of any age falls into sexual addiction, it usually takes more help and training than can be accessed alone. They must understand that the need for help is nothing to be ashamed of.
If you struggle to fight more demons than you can handle alone, it means you are a bigger threat than you thought! Get help!
Get the training you need!
You have too many God ordained works to accomplish in your life, to sit around miserably bound by these chains!
Those who battle sexual addiction must do all they can to overcome this addiction on their own. Self sufficiency builds self confidence. You will have many successes!
When the enemy starts to cheat and hits you with more than you can handle, it is an indication that you are a bigger threat than you thought. The proper training will help ensure your success.
You have too many God ordained works to accomplish in your life. Our mission at Sons of Helaman is to work together with you to defeat this enemy.
To learn more about the Satanic Spin and Chemical Scale, and other related principles, download your FREE ebook copy of Like Dragons Did They Fight.