Book reviews, Mental health

Book Review: The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About

The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About

The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About by Joshua Shea describes the events that caused his life to come shattering down, and how he began to rebuild and heal.

Much of the book revolves around the local lifestyle magazine he started, which grew into starting a film festival and getting elected to city council.  Interspersed throughout the chronological account were information and insights from the present time related to his behaviours and use of pornography.

Josh explains that he was first introduced to porno magazines as a child by his cousin.  This evolved into buying Playboy and renting porn videos as a teenager, with the adrenaline rush of danger at the potential to get caught by his parents.

The book describes some of the factors that likely contributed to problems as an adult.  As a child, he had an abusive, unstable babysitter, and he was diagnosed years later with PTSD.  He had a longstanding pattern of adapting his responses to situations by taking on an authority figure role and creating his own reality. He also had bipolar disorder but didn’t take his medications regularly, and had unhealthy drinking patterns as he struggled to cope.

As the book progresses, he describes how his use of porn became increasingly problematic.  He would manipulate women on cam chats into doing what he wanted, and was downloading iffy torrent folders, stopping the download once he got the specific file he wanted.

He writes: “In my deteriorating condition, if I wanted to see younger women, a 16- or 17-year-old was just as good to me as a 19- or 20-year-old. It all blended together. I don’t make the laws, though, and that’s a good thing.”  He adds that porn never “subtracted the negative feelings of real life. I was never going to feel good. The best I could feel was numb.”

It was after the magazine began falling apart that the police showed up at his door with a warrant. “As I let the men into the house, my first two thoughts were: ‘Oh my God, my life is about to change forever, and Thank God, my life is about to change forever.'”  I thought that was a really effective way of capturing the mindset of someone who realizes they have a problem and they can start to get help.

The charges that ended up moving forward were in relation to images of a 14-year-old girl.  As a reader, it’s hard not to get judgy and wonder how someone could not realize a) this person is underage, and b) this isn’t acceptable. it’s also hard to manage the cognitive dissonance of recognizing this as an addiction-related impairment of judgment.

Josh describes how he turned his life around in the time between his arrest and his sentencing; this involved getting back on medications, going to rehab, and getting intensive therapy.  He pled guilty to the charges and ended up going to sex addiction rehab and serving six months in county jail.

One of the great things about this book is the degree of openness.  However, that also means sharing some opinions that aren’t necessarily going to boost his likeability to readers.  This one in particular provoked a strong reaction for me:

“I don’t understand the mindset of people who are pedophiliac or violent sex offenders because I’m not wired like them, but I don’t judge them as harshly anymore now that I have spent time with so many of them and can tell you not a single one decided on their own to be that way. They have an illness and that’s not a cop-out.”

I think this book definitely has a role to play.  It’s an uncensored and unfiltered look at pornography addiction, and that’s a story that needs to be told.  Personally, I accept that it’s a legitimate behavioural addiction much like gambling addiction is a recognized behavioural addiction.  But I think the book’s greatest value is for people dealing with porn addiction, either directly or indirectly.  For the curious general reader, the key message may not penetrate quite as well through the elements that are likely to stir up negative judgments.

The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About is available on Amazon.

You can find Josh on his blog Recovering Porn Addict.

You can find my other book reviews here, including Josh’s newest book, He’s a Porn Addict… Now What?


book cover: Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis by Ashley L. Peterson

My book Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis breaks down the different categories of DSM-5 diagnoses, explaining the diagnostic criteria and providing first-hand stories of the various illnesses.  It’s available on the MH@H Store, as well as Amazon and other online retailers.


This post contains affiliate links.

19 thoughts on “Book Review: The Addiction Nobody Will Talk About”

  1. Sounds very interesting to me. It is a topic that not many people talk about and it is what it is, ‘just an addiction’. I don’t feel any judgment there as we can become addicted to anything. The thing you mentioned very nicely and that got me, was that a young child was introduced to sexual things he couldn’t understand nor process at the time. The other remark about criminal behavior being an illness (in the context here) and that it’s more difficult to empathize with I understand too. It touches on very deeply rooted ideas of good and bad. Even when ill, the outcome is still not ok. There is a lot of healing to do from both sides involved.

  2. Pornography addiction is way more common that people think, and many pornography companies are not moral businesses and they often use underage girls and try to pass them off as older or don’t even bother to try to act like they are older. I’ve also read articles about how human trafficking is involved in pornography. It is really disturbing. I have often said if people want pornography, I wish there were more “ethical pornography” businesses that make sure not to exploit underage kids or participate in human trafficking in any way.

  3. When I was still living in NY, this woman I worked with… Her husband was addicted to porn as well. She was sickened and disgusted by him.
    While they were going through thier divorce, he was arrested too. Put through a rehab and served time. (I don’t remember how much time), but shw would never allow him to see his children again.

  4. It’s always scary to read a review of my book, but I feel you were very fair. Since the bulk of it was written in 2016, my opinions have evolved on some matters, but I think a snapshot of how I was thinking that early on in recovery still has value. Thank you so much for the review. I hope when the next one comes out you’ll take a look at that, too

  5. It’s always good to get new perspectives, even if we disagree with them. I have a bit of a personal stake here (not the underaged part), so my feelings are pretty negative.

Leave a Reply