Jun 8, 2008

Pictures of Pornography: Part I of an interview with Jodi Hildebrandt

Jodi Hildebrandt manages Utah County's chapter of Lifestar. This is a program and network designed to help sexual addicts through recovery. She is a member of the LDS church and comes highly recommended. If you or a loved one is struggling, I suggest you go check out the network as one of your resources. There is help for those with an addiction, and also for those who have a loved one who is struggling.

Interview with Jodi Hildebrandt

NSG: Speaking from an LDS perspective, as a therapist who has worked with lots of LDS people who have dealt with pornography, when would you say someone needs to go to the bishop with their problem? If they have a recurring problem? If they look at it once?

JH: Well, when we’re looking at pornography, we don’t feel bad. But after we look at pornography we go, uh oh,

NSG: Mm hmm.

JH: We shouldn’t have done that. So after I’ve done it once or twice, probably I’d say to myself, oh, I don’t think it’s such a big deal, I think I’ll stop. I start realizing that I can’t stop, or I don’t want to stop. So you say, when should they go? They should go the first time. But they don’t go the first time, because they feel shame. They end up going after they realize that, this feels out of control, I’m having life-changing consequences, and it’s increased, which means, addiction increases in tolerance. And so… the three components of addiction is that it alters my mood, it increases in rate, frequency and duration, and that I have life-damaging consequences. Or I have… my life becomes unmaneagable… my wife is…. More… feels like she’s more irritable toward me. Or, maybe I miss work because I looked at pornography at night and I couldn’t get up in the morning to go to my job. So I start having consequences as a result of what I’m doing. I don’t come home when I’m supposed to. I start lying to my spouse. I mean, those are all consequences of misbehavior. So when people get to that stage, they usually start looking for help. And when they usually get to me… I mean, they usually go to a bishop then, but they usually end up coming to me when their life is like in the gutter. Where they say, “My wife’s leaving me,” um, “people hate me, I lost my job,” you know, something significant has happened to them, usually.

NSG: Right…

JH: Where there’s been, exceeding, conflict in the marriage; where the wife says, something’s wrong, I don’t know what it is, but I’m making him in here and he’s coming in.

NSG: Yeah… I can see that. (laughs).

JH: Yeah. People change, when they are humble and they want… they realize what they’re doing is causing a problem. When the wife pulls a husband in or vice versa, when a husband pulls a wife in, usually don’t see much change because a person is resisting.

NSG: Right.

JH: They don’t want to change. And so they play this little game, you know “I’ll come, but just to appease you.”

NSG: Right.

JH: And you know, that doesn’t really work. It just wastes their time and money.

NSG: And I’m sure.. you said Shame. Shame was the motivation…

JH: Shame is the core.

NSG: What do you think can help somebody decide… like for instance, I’m sure shame would be an essential element of somebody who has looked at it once, who should go to their bishop, but decide, you know, I, don’t want to see the bishop. How do you overcome that? How do you, go ahead and go? How do you… a piece of me wants to make sure people realize that, it’s not something that makes them a bad person. If they’ve looked at it once.

JH: Mm hmm.

NSG: you know, we should talk to someone about it but it doesn’t make ‘em a bad person.

JH: We can talk spiritually. Shame is coming right from the Adversary. The Adversary is saying, “Don’t tell. You did do something wrong, you’re a scumbag. Don’t tell anybody.” You know, you’re worthless. “Who’d do something like that, cheat on their spouse like that?” When I look at pornography, and I know that I did something wrong I validated that belief system, that internal structure. So I already did something bad, and then I’ve got this voice, telling me, “don’t tell.” Because shame drives on two things. Secrets is one. If I’ve done something that I know is wrong and it violates me, then I feel badly. But then when I feel shame it tells me, “Don’t tell anybody.” It likes hiding out in the dark. It doesn’t like the light. Well if I go and talk to a bishop that means there’s a spotlight on it, and so I don’t want to tell, I just won’t do it again. Well, that’s the worst thing you could do, is not to tell. Because if you don’t tell, you still have all that shame inside. It’s a secret that you’re holding. So you have to keep lying about it. And shame begets more shame, and so there’s this cycle of addiction, where I say I’ll never do it again. Well the reason I have an addiction is to help me get away from how bad I feel already, so I engage in it again because I want to get away from how bad I feel, and then I feel worse, and then I have to go do it again. I mean it just goes round and round and round. And people don’t see that. They just think they’re out of control. They say, well I am a smart person, I don’t know why I can’t stop. They can’t stop because they have, an addiction.

NSG: Right, Um, it’s kind of ironic to me, just having talked to this bishop and talked to you, and… all these other people, um, it’s such a common, problem. It happens to just about everybody. And so there should be a way that people can know that, it’s not the end of the world if you go talk to someone about it. I mean, it’s not… doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, doesn’t mean I’m a disgusting person, it means I’m a normal person, who… who did that. Who’s normal and sexual. I mean, I messed up maybe but, that doesn’t make me a bad person.

JH: Right. They don’t know that, because their shame tells them they’re bad. And when they hold it as a secret, then they don’t tell anybody. And so they never have the opportunity for someone to tell them that, this doesn’t mean that. So.. they’re scared to. And that’s exactly where it wants you to be. It wants you to stay silent, and it wants you to feel horrible. And so the more that you keep violating yourself, whether you’re violating yourself by pornography, or masturbating, or lying, or being deceitful in some way, or accusing or blaming; whatever you’re doing, you’re just exacerbating the shame you feel.

NSG: Well that really… that says a lot I think. Especially with LDS people, I think that a lot us are really prone to shame.

JH: Right, we are.

NSG: Because a lot of us feel like we need to lead these perfect lives, and if we mess up at all… I mean, our kids always have to be perfect, and we always have to fulfill our callings perfectly, and we can’t miss a meeting, you know, and so I think that can lend itself to shame.

JH: Right, any sort of structure… it’s not just Mormonism, I think it can be any dogmatic religion, it’s going to have more a propensity to increase shame, because the expectations are higher. But the expectations aren’t inappropriate, I mean we all can live good lives, and if we live the way we’re being asked to live then we’ll be happy. But if we live what you just described, that perfect… nobody’s going to be perfect! That’s US. Literally our own shame. Because shame talks like that: be perfect. Because it knows you can’t be perfect, and if you expect to be perfect then you’re going to fall from it. And it’s a setup.

NSG: Because nobody really is perfect… that creates that discrepancy.


Luke Gilkerson said...

It's so true that pornography easily leads to a downward spiral of secrecy and shame. Accountability and confession can be so frightening to someone who is caught in the midst of an addiction, and yet it is the path God has marked out for them to find recovery and deliverance from the gripping power of the sin.

I work for a Christian ministry that helps people find accountability for their Internet use, especially those who are tempted to view adult material. It's called Covenant Eyes (based on Job 31:1). Its been an incredible experience receiving testimonies from people who use to be wrapped in a secret life come out into the light. Curious: have you heard of Covenant Eyes?

If you want more information about our unique accountability software or if you want to read some articles from our blog about porn addiction, go to www.CovenantEyes.com

NoSurfGirl said...


Thank you very much for your comment and the link! I love this. I think it's hard to find the resources people need... hopefully someone will find both of our sights and get a bunch of resources at once.

Margaret said...

Have you read "Enna Burning," by Shannon Hale? It's the second in a series, so read "Goose Girl" first. :)

But "Enna Burning" is fascinating as a depiction of addiction and dealing with...in a fairly innocent, child fairy tale.

I highly recommend the books to anyone, but particularly as you think and write about addiction.

Anonymous said...

Several professionals and peers have serious concerns with Jodi Hildebrandt. She has been described as "combative" by her peers. Indeed, in our case where no pornography is involved, Jodi has drawn other erratic and erroneous relationship conclusions. Very unprofessional. One highly acclaimed professional informed me Jodi is one of two professionals that would never be recommended to others by their office.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, but do not be fooled by Jodi N. Hildebrandt. Her license is currently under probation and she is under supervision for breaking the law, engaging in unprofessional conduct, violating codes of ethics, and sharing PRIVATE patient information with multiple sources in order to pursue her money making agenda. Here's a link to her latest offense. http://m.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile/53846601-81/hildebrandt-church-doe-utah.html.csp DO NOT TRUST THIS WOMAN WITH YOUR LIFE, MARRIAGE, HAPPINESS, OR MENTAL HEALTH!!!! OR anything else that could possibly matter to you.

Anonymous said...

Before you judge by a newspaper article or anything else let me just add my input. My son has been seeing Jodi for several months now. He has been to other therapists both before and after a 3+ month in-house treatment for pornography addiction. The in-house treatment taught him a lot of tools to help him but he lacked the "follow-through" to keep that going. I won't bore you with a lot of detail but basically after seeing different licensed, certified counselors he started with Jodi--first in group then one-on-one sessions.

He said she is the best counselor for him that he has been to and, other than when he was actually IN the residential treatment, I can see he is making improvement.

I read that newspaper article previously and had 2 thoughts: there are definite ethical and legal guidelines for any counselors. If she crossed those lines it seems she has/is undergoing appropriate "discipline". However, in reading what was reported as the comments of the man it sounds so much like things my son -- an addict -- has said that it is also possible that gentleman is not fully truthful or possibly not "owning" his own "stuff'. It's possible.

Couple that with the truncated report possible in a newspaper article and you have to at least admit you do not have the whole picture. Should you consider it? Of course--but you should do more research.

Here is how to find a good therapist. Check credentials, get referrals -- from people you KNOW and trust ideally, especially if they have been to the counselor. Find out why they like or dislike them and then, if you go and don't get along with the counselor--change! Not everyone will get along or 'connect' with every counselor and it's ok. Find one that works for you.

Go to 12 step groups, group counseling and ask people there but realize there is help and it's ok to ask for it, find it and recover.

I am going to post this anonymously since I have talked about my son here but my overall point is check, check, check!

Anonymous said...

I recently took a 6 week course of counseling the summer of 2013. Costing $600 per person. Jodi has remained consistent with treating me the same negative way as these pots have claimed, it IS TRUE! She has intentionally exposed very confidential information to 3rd party persons, even including my family information that was NOT to be shared! She does this for personal & monetary gain. For me personally, she created more problems then she did help. For example, she has amplified the horrible trust issues that I have struggled with which now will be harder to break but, with a real professionals help I have confidence. She is still in a tornado of tearing apart my family, details of which I won't discuss, because it's still on-going. I have been singled out in her groups, but, also purposely ignored when it benefited her to keep my mouth shut so I don't come in between her lies & my family members in the course with me. She's very unprofessional, has no tact nor integrity. SHE CANNOT BE TRUSTED! Between the comments on this site & you can also find more by googling her name with SLC Tribune. I do believe in counseling, but from a professional whose license is not under PROBATION & OBSERVATION. My advice is to do your homework and find someone with positive accreditation. This isn't me trying to bad mouth her, this is just my personal experience. Good luck to you all!

Anonymous said...

Amen! Great comment. Jodi has changed my life, and my family's life. You will always find negative things about counselors that are willing to hold people accountable, and truly help them change. Jodi speaks Truth, she teaches Truth, learn about her methods, listen to her podcasts, I challenge you to find out for yourself, if you choose to go by what an article said about an unrepentant addict, you will miss out from a life changing opportunity to better yourself, and every relationship in it.

Anonymous said...

I think many couples have struggled with Jodi because she is not a marriage therapist. My husband is training to be a marriage and family therapist and many of my friends are MFT's. There is a huge difference between Individual therapy and marriage therapy. Jodi may be great for individuals, but she doesn't have training in marriage therapy (to my knowledge). Here is a good source on how to sift through therapists to find a good marriage therapist for you and your spouse. http://couplestherapyinc.com/how-to-choose-a-couples-therapist/

Unknown said...

I have listened to many of Jodi Hildebrandt's podcasts, and her theories are based on nothingness, and operate upon a bait and hook philosophy of a commonality of shared experiences, with the hook being her own cure for redemption. Yes, she thinks she is the expert. She draws people in by sharing her own personal experiences, which are usually related to one of her 3 core principles: impeccable honesty, rigorous personal responsibility or humility. By sharing her own personal experiences, she always manages to get a few laughs. She has absolute theories of thought and considers everyone to live in some existence of guilt or shame. News Flash, I went the whole week without any feeling of Shame! Her absolutism is a constant theme with statements like this one: "It is not possible to have lived or live on this earth without a significant amount of faulty core beliefs". Physician heal thyself. You have no right to categorize the human race into a lost and fallen state. Any therapy that separates a son away from his family is founded upon a wrecked philosophy of nothingness. When my son came to your for therapy, I sincerely tried to jump on your bandwagon, so that I could witness the light. For the life of me, I cannot make sense of your theories, your solutions and your topics. Why are there so many podcasts? Can the foils of the human psyche be dissected into that many pieces? Well, of course it can, if it is a business. Follow the money trail!