The Five Components of Dismissing Urges to P/MO

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
This post is adapted from the book, Brain Over Binge Basics, by Kathryn Hansen.

While this book deals with binge-eating, it has crossover applicability toward PMO. I've applied this simple approach toward my own porn and sex addictions for years with the best results. My hope is that you will too!

Herein, P/MO = Porn and/or Masturbation Orgasm. While this post is copied from her book, I replaced binge or binge eating with P/MO as applies to our goals. I've also redacted or edited out unnecessary portions. Her book is linked on page 1 of My Journal

The Five Components of Dismissing Urges to P/MO

Component 1: View Urges to P/MO as Neurological Junk

The most important thing to remember while learning the Five Components of Dismissing Urges to P/MO is that the urges are not you.

The voice that encourages P/MO sounds very much like your own voice, but it is not. The urges arise automatically from a more primitive, animalistic part of your brain (which I refer to as the lower brain).

The urges are a product of survival instincts and/or habit and do not indicate what you truly want or need.

Your urges are only faulty brain messages.

You cannot make these urges go away; you only need to learn to experience them differently so you can stop acting on them. Then they will go away on their own.

In this component you?ll start to see that any thought, feeling, or sensation that encourages P/MO is neurological junk.

The goal is to see that these thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations are temporary, faulty messages that are out of line with your true self.

You may find yourself believing the faulty messages when you are in the midst of an urge, but when you are not experiencing an urge, you realize that those messages do not indicate your true wants and needs.

Between P/MO urges, your rational self can see that the urges aren?t truly valid. Knowing this makes you feel less compelled to take them seriously when they arise. You don?t need to argue or fight with them, just relax in knowing that they are automatic and not deep and meaningful.

Component 2: Separate the Higher Brain from Urges to P/MO

You know your urges are neurological junk from the lower brain (a result of habit). Now you need to know and feel that you?your true self?is completely separate from your urges and fully capable of dismissing them. This is what you will focus on in this component.

Although part of you wants to hold on to your habit, you know that you want more for your life. There is a greater part of you that wants to quit.

What you may experience as mixed feelings about recovery are the result of the two brains that are at work in P/MO: your lower brain and your higher brain.

You?ve already learned that the part of you that produces the P/MO urges is the lower brain. Now we?ll be focusing on the higher brain, which is the part of you that is actually you. It?s the part of you that has long term goals inconsistent with P/MO and the part of you that wants to recover.

Your higher brain (which can also be called your human brain, and more specifically, your prefrontal cortex) gives you the power to dismiss the urges, provided you separate yourself from your lower brain?s faulty messages.

The difference between the higher and lower brain is an important reason why traditional treatment approaches (which focus on the deep emotional or psychological meaning of the urges) often fail.

Spending time analyzing what is wrong with you in therapy is ineffective when it comes to P/MO because the urges don?t come from you at all!

Everyone has flaws and problems. You had problems before you began P/MO and you?ll have problems after you quit.
Remind yourself daily not to connect the above problems to your addiction/habit.

Instead of focusing on your problems and less-than-ideal qualities, it?s more helpful to focus on your inner strengths that you can use to your advantage while recovering.

Once you separate from the urges, you gain the ability to dismiss them. This is because you?residing in your higher brain?can veto any urge from the primitive brain, and only you have control of your voluntary muscles. The lower brain cannot make you walk to the [computer and look up porn].

The higher brain gives you identity, reason, and most importantly for P/MO recovery?your self-control functions. All the lower brain can do is encourage you to P/MO, and send the signals of craving, but you always can decide what to do when you experience the urges.

If you think about your life now, there are times when you use self-control very effectively. There are also certain things you would never consider doing, because of a strong moral conviction or simply because the actions would be absurd or too dangerous. These actions are simply not an option in your mind.

When the action is not an option for you, it?s effortless to resist. The more you can move P/MO into the category of behaviors you would never dream of performing, the easier it will be to feel separate from the urges.

The resistance you feel when you view P/MO as not an option is from your lower brain. When you feel this resistance, try telling yourself this:

My lower brain wants to hold on to the habit, but P/MO is not an option for me. I always feel bad afterward, and I do not want to do things that make me feel bad.

Know that, if it weren?t for the urges, you would naturally view P/MO in the same way that you view...absurd or dangerous activities...

Your urges are only temporarily convincing you that you want to P/MO, but you naturally view this as not an option.
Now you know you don?t have to identify with your urges anymore. You are separate and capable of choosing another path.

Component 3: Stop Reacting to Urges to P/MO

The goal of this Component is to minimize and often eliminate the uncomfortable feelings that the urges create, because those feelings can be what leads you to give in to the urges.

Often, you may P/MO just to make those uncomfortable feelings go away. Without those feelings (or by reframing how you think about those feelings), you will be better able to let the urges come and go without giving them attention.

The uncomfortable feelings you experience are often due to your reaction to the urges.

Some of your reactions are automatic and come without your conscious input, but some reactions are of your own creation.

(*Once it?s there it doesn?t matter why it came in the first place. Furthermore, finding a hypothetical reason for the urge often equals finding an excuse to give in.)

To stop reacting to urges, it?s helpful to use detachment.

Detachment is when you (the real you in your higher brain) aren?t involved in what you are experiencing. Even though the internal and external factors are still there, you are no longer personally invested.

Detachment is when you simply let the urge be without fueling it with your mental and physical energy.

If you look at how you go about your day, you?ll find that you naturally stay mentally and emotionally detached from certain things/people/places/situations that don?t matter to you. Otherwise the world would be too overwhelming and distracting. You have to filter out what?s NOT important to you.

It?s possible to do this with P/MO urges as well, because the urges truly don?t matter to you. They are just neurons firing in lower brain and there is no reason to become emotional about them.

Don?t offer any counterarguments to the thought [or urges]. Don?t engage in any mental dialogue with it (if other thoughts come up automatically, that?s fine?simply observe them)

Notice that when you don?t react, no strong or uncomfortable feelings surface.
Just because you hear something in your head, or feel a physical sensation in your body, it doesn?t mean you have to let it affect you.

Component 4: Stop Acting on Urges to P/MO

This step is the cure for P/MO. You have a P/MO habit because you?ve acted on urges many times. The only way to reverse the habit is to stop acting on those urges. In this way, recovery is vastly simplified.

Repeatedly following your urges to P/MO has created strong, organized neural pathways in your lower brain that support your behavior. The only way to weaken those neural pathways is to stop following the urges.

When you stop P/MO, the neural connections that supported the destructive behavior will fade, and the urges will go away. Each time you don?t act on an urge, you are actually utilizing neuroplasticity to rewire your brain.

To avoid acting on the urges there is nothing you have to do. When the urges arise, your only goal is to remain detached and not act on them; but you can do anything you?d like during the urge. For example, you can just go about your day as usual, pick an activity you enjoy until the urge passes, or just sit quietly in a comfortable spot and observe your brain.

If there are times that you do act on urges, don?t dwell on that. Come back to the page above and read about how you succeeded in the past, so you can move forward with renewed focus on what works.

When you change your perspective surrounding the experience of the urges, dismissing them may be easy for you. You may have instant success that snowballs quickly into complete recovery.

Alternately, it may prove to be uncomfortable at first and take some time before you can consistently not act on urges.

The discomfort of an unsatisfied P/MO urge goes away relatively quickly, but the post-P/MO discomfort lingers and grows and affects all parts of your life. It?s important to recognize that you do have a choice, but for the vast majority of people, P/MO causes much more discomfort than any unmet cravings.

Remember that discomfort is part of most beneficial changes in life; it only signals that you are growing into the person you want to be. Furthermore?

The discomfort you feel when not acting on an urge isn?t actually your discomfort; it?s the lower brain?s.

When you feel uncomfortable not acting on an urge, remind yourself of this:

The lower brain prefers comfort (it?s a normal survival mechanism), but its comfort (P/MO) causes you much more discomfort and pain that you aren?t willing to live with anymore. You are actually much more comfortable dismissing urges.

Component 5: Get Excited (About Resisting P/MO Urges and Recovery Itself)

Component 5 is a bonus, and for most people, it?s a very natural product of Components 1-4. When you don?t act on P/MO urges, you are excited!

This excitement isn?t just about feeling good; it actually has a useful neurological function. It speeds along brain changes that erase your P/MO habit.

Praise (including praise from within), and excitement for learning something new cements that learning on a physical level in the brain. In other words?

Celebrating a new discovery or skill increases the likelihood that it will be remembered and repeated.

Congratulating yourself serves to strengthen connections in the prefrontal parts of your brain and weaken the pathways in the lower brain that supported your habit.

As you have more and more success dismissing P/MO urges, you?ll notice other things in your life that are worth celebrating as well.

Without P/MO, you have the wonderful opportunity to do other things. Although doing other things won?t magically take your urges away, focusing attention elsewhere can actually help the faulty brain pathways change faster.

So try to get on with your life and put your attention on things other than pornography or masturbation.

Of course your life won?t be perfect, and you?ll have problems just like everyone else in the world, but turning your mental energy away from P/MO, as well as being excited about the positive effects of being P/MO-free, will help weaken the habit.

Chris Oz

Well-Known Member
Thank you Phineas. This just reshaped my mind. It's a sure  help to people who just relapsed.

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Definitely, Chris! And thank you for being the first to acknowledge this beneficial approach.

It was a game changer for me, changing my whole outlook and approach to this habit! Kathryn Hansen based this approach on the work of Jack Trimpey, who wrote Rational Recovery, in his dealings with his own alcoholism. It's not the disease model of addiction, but rather a very rational and brain-based, science-based approach.

Oddly, one would think it'd take off in a forum like this, as RN and YBOP approach porn and pied from a brain science standpoint. But, that's how strong the disease-model of addiction is in the recovery world.

But here you have a method that has crossover applicability: alcoholism ---> binge eating ---> porn/sex addiction.

It's a sure  help to people who just relapsed.

True. But more importantly, it can reshape our perception in order to prevent further relapse. But again, it changes how we view relapsing, from being some kind of major 'fall' off the wagon, into a more rational part of the healing process.

Relapse before meant a kind of affirmation that we were some how flawed and screwed up in some fundamental way. But now it means simply a part of relearning our habits, retraining our brain.

Thanks, Chris!


Thanks a lot Phineas, it is very usefull.
I listened also a pastor talked about that, I think His name was Mohamed Sanogo.

Thanks, men !

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
You're welcome, Robert!

I'd be interested in hearing what this pastor has to say... If you have a link, great! If not, I'll look him up.


King Leer

"You are actually much more comfortable dismissing urges."
Isn't that the truth? I just made it through a bad pmo urge.  It sucked for a while but now it's gone I didn't act on it and I feel great. 1/2 hour of discomfort for my dignity.

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
Exactly, King Leer!

1/2 hour of discomfort versus hours, days, or even weeks of regret, shame, beating up oneself, reinforcing (instead of weakening) the habit...

We all have it in us to dismiss our urges, and enjoy the boost of confidence, self-empowerment, and habit change that comes as a direct result.


Active Member
Hey Phineas,

Thanks so much for this. I have had difficulty with urges before but reading this changed my entire perspective. Don't face the urges head on, but instead let them rampage without any entertainment; great advice!

Phineas 808

Well-Known Member
You're so welcome, anub0!

Keep in mind that:

1. Urges will always peak, and then subside, whether they're strong or weaker. But know that they will not last forever.

2. Urges may come in waves, so outlasting an urge, be confident that you will outlast the next (think of it as urge surfing).

3. The urges can never make you do anything, can never force you to do anything, and you can outlast any urge.