Sex Addiction Recovery: What Can Thor Teach Us About Sex Addiction?

Eric Tooley, LPC, CSAT, CCPS

Thor has returned to the movies with the recent release of Thor: Love and Thunder. It has been three years since we last saw our hero in Avengers: Endgame. The trailers for the current movie show Thor working out and tell us that Thor “has gone from Dad-Bod to God-Bod.” What happened that led him to get so out of shape and overweight that he had a “dad-bod?”

In Avengers: Endgame, Thor faces his failure to defeat Thanos. His failure leads to catastrophic consequences. Thor isolates himself from the world, and escapes through video games, cable TV, beer, and unhealthy food. 

That’s our first lesson about sex addiction. Addiction is an illness of escape. It cripples our ability to know what is real. Sex addiction is no different. Through pornography, masturbation, strip clubs, hook-ups, affairs, and the other ways to sexually act out, the goal is to escape our own reality. This reality is often a feeling of being inadequate (which was Thor’s issue) but can also be boredom or loneliness or other issues. 

Part of Thor’s escape or addiction is video games and cable TV. This was a very interesting addition to the plot of Avengers: Endgame and gives another lesson in sex addiction. The digital aspect of sex addiction through pornography, video games with pornography, hook-up apps, sexting, and other ways to act out sexually through screens and/or the internet creates a supranormal experience. This means that no real-life sexual partner can compare, and you isolate and become more addicted. 

The Avengers recruit Thor to rejoin the cause but he is not the Thor, God of Thunder, he used to be. He is falling asleep in meetings and is barely coherent when he speaks. This is our second lesson about sex addiction. A criterion for diagnosing addiction is the inability to fulfill obligations. Your sexual activity is interfering with work, school, family, and friends. 

The Avengers develop a new plan to defeat Thanos and restore the universe from the damage that Thanos has done. Thor is best suited for and desperately wants the responsibility, but the Avengers do not trust him due to his addictive behavior. This is our next lesson about sex addiction. Sexual addiction destroys trust in your marriage, work relationships, family, and friends. Your declarations that you have quit acting out, and even demonstrations of some sobriety seem to fall on deaf ears. People are reluctant or at least hesitant to take the chance of trusting you again.

Thor tries to mask and even deny the effects of his addiction as he rejoins the Avengers. He encounters his mother who confronts him and convinces him he cannot fool her. Thor breaks down and shares his struggles with her. He gets wise counsel, and this marks a turning point for him. This is our next lesson about sex addiction. We may try and try to get better on our own but don’t really make progress until we break down and get help. Telling someone else our story and relying on power outside of ourselves is the key to recovery. It is very difficult but necessary.

Help is available for you just like it was Thor. I have a workshop coming up on August 6, 2022 where we will cover all of the topics that I have mentioned above. We actually will watch the movie clips from Thor as I teach the criteria for sex addiction, the escape nature of sex addiction, the ways online sexual experiences accelerate sex addiction, how power outside of yourself is the key to sobriety, and how to restore trust with your spouse and others. For more information, see https://intensivehope.com/workshops/ and to sign up let me know by emailing us at info@intensivehope.com.

Eric Tooley is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. eric@intensivehope.com

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