The most efficient and beneficial counseling session ever—of five-minute duration—is also the worst. How could this be?
The counseling session I am referring to is a popular Bob Newhart skit called “Stop It!” If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll get a hearty laugh from watching it on YouTube. But for a quick summary, a woman, Katherine Bigmans, goes to the psychiatrist—Dr Switzer (Bob Newhart). He informs her that his counseling sessions are $5 for the first five minutes and then nothing after that. Katherine is delighted, but the doctor assures her that the session won’t be longer than five minutes. Katherine proceeds to tell the doctor that she has a fear of being buried alive in a box.
After a couple of questions and answers, the doctor prepares her for his professional answer to her obsessive fear. She asks if she should take notes, but Dr. Switzer assures her that his counsel to her is only two words. Delighted, the client postures herself for words of professional wisdom. Ss Dr. Switzer leans over his desk and screams sternly, “Stop it!”
“Stop it?” She questions. Dr. Switzer replies, “Yes, stop it! S-T-O-P, new word, I-T!”
Katherine asks, “So I should just stop being afraid of being buried alive in a box?”
“You got it!” Dr. Switzer replies.
Since there are a couple of minutes left, Dr. Switzer invites her to address any other issues in her life. Katherine then tells the doctor that she is bulimic, and that she sticks her fingers down her throat, to which Dr. Switzer replies, “Stop it! Are you a nut of some kind?” The counseling session continues for the full five minutes. After some back-and-forth haggling over the simple solution, the doctor ends the session with his final advice to her of ten words: “Stop it or I’ll bury you alive in a box!"
First the Worst Counseling Session Ever
The Bob Newhart “Stop It!” skit was not about curing sexual addiction, it was about overcoming a fear. But let’s imagine it was for a moment, because that’s the subject where I want to apply Dr. Switzer’s advice.
On the desktop of my computer are icons representing programs I may choose to open and use. But what nobody sees, unless they know where to browse in the computer operations, are thousands of files and processes running in the background that enable those programs to run.
Sexual addiction is similar. On the surface appears the drive for lust and immorality. But the lustful drive is only a symptom of deeper issues. The problem with most popular approaches to sexual recovery is that the processes running behind the scenes are ignored. Counselors and preachers shout to men things like: It’s wrong, don’t do it! Or in the words of Dr. Switzer, “Stop it!”
In my book, To Kill a Lion: Destroying the Power of Lust from the Root, I dismantle many of the stop-it approaches. I also tell the story of how I was one of those professional counselors, who, although I didn’t scream, whispered lovingly, “Stop it!” to my clients. You see, I didn’t watch porn,didn’t think the thoughts, didn’t look at the magazines, and didn’t watch the movies. I was as clean-as-a- whistle That is until I ran into another counselor who exposed me—told me I was a sexual addict, and that I was a master suppressor.
How Could That Be?
Although I didn’t give myself to lust and immorality of any kind, I came to realize, through the help of this counselor, that in my heart I desperately wanted to give in. The desires were rampant in my heart, and other places, but I was committed enough to not give in.
Up until that point, much of what I had taught, believed, and put on people was behavior modification. Simply put, it is changing the outside without changing the inside. In much of my counsel to people, I ignored the programs running behind the scenes, giving them nifty ideas on how to alter their actions.
Not Free To, or Free Not To?
With the continued help of this counselor, I went from being not free to—to—free not to. Not free to means that I am not allowed to, but I would love to. Free not to means that my desires have been changed—deep down inside, my heart was freed from the domination of lust.
The forces driving sexual addiction are lies that one has believed. They are fears stemming from trauma, abandonment, rejection, hurts, wounds, and so forth. This emotional pain creates a void that our mind—our physiology—tries to comfort and satiate through sexual fantasies. With sexual addiction, and any other addiction, people cry out, "I know it’s wrong, but why can’t I stop?!"
Addictions of any kind are only surface manifestations of deeper emotional and spiritual pains. They are an indication of lies one has believed. When the heart is healed, behavior will follow. So to simply say, “Stop it!” to someone obsessed or oppressed, without going to the root issue, may not cure the problem at the root level.
Now the Best Counseling Session Ever
I just gave my discourse on roots, and why this is the worst counseling session ever, but in some sense, I have great respect for Dr. Switzer’s advice - of course, not the screaming and the bluntness used for humor. I am not contradicting my emphasis on going from fruit to root, but there are times that victory only comes when one first finds the courage to stand up against fear, the addiction, the wound, the habit—looks into the mirror and screams, Stop it!
I am on a diet right now because in my older age I got sloppy in my discipline and grew a gut. As a counselor, I know the root issues driving my use of food as an emotional “fixer,” but saying, stop it to gluttonous misuse of food is the prescribed remedy for my bulging body.
I believe—no, I know—that often standing up with Stop-it!-discipline and courage is the choice fix for the problem. There is another phrase, one that Dr. Switzer does not use, that I have always used and it’s, Get over it! Decide to forgive, resolve to forget, choose to focus on the future instead of the past, wipe the slate clean, replace the negative poor-little-ol’-me thoughts with positive approaches, and hopeful dreams. Get over it! Move on! Think differently! Make the choice!
I was there, craving sexual stimuli, as well. And even though there were a ton of root issues behind my lustful cravings, it was still good, right, and responsible that I didn’t give in to those desires. There is a self-destructive socialization increasing in our culture, which gives a license to people who don’t and won’t take personal responsibility. It is evident in our courts, welfare system, and schools. We say, "poor you," to people hurting others or themselves. "You have a problem," we go on to say. No, you are damaging yourself and violating others—take responsibility, and Stop it!
If you are married, yet feeding your sexual lust with stimuli outside of your marriage, you are victimizing your wife—that’s not love by the biblical definition. Stop it! Get help, but stop it!
I couldn’t be more sensitive to those of you that you are controlled by lust. I will help you get to the root issues and be healed. In the meantime, continue to take responsibility for your actions and the effect they have on others.
To Kill a Lion: Destroying the Power of Lust From the Root by Bruce Lengeman breaks into the control room and uncovers what is driving the drive. This book will not only lead you to sexual freedom, but it will transform your entire life. It provides the answer to the question many men cry out: "I know it’s wrong, but why can’t I stop?”