The following question was posted in a recent issue of
Connections — the free newsletter for Hermes' Web
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“I’ve started working with a married couple whose
relationship has been in trouble for years, due to many
factors—the biggest of which is the husband’s addiction to
porn sites. He’s a very guarded individual who can talk his
way out of anything. He’s very good at minimizing and
rationalizing — typical addictive behavior — and is in
complete denial of how his online behavior is destroying
his relationship and chipping away what’s left of his wife’s
trust in him.
They’ve been to counseling on two different occasions and
nothing has gotten through to him so far. I really want to
help them to finally make some real changes. There is a
good, solid foundation there, but so much garbage has
piled up. You say that Hermes’ Web can help break through
these types of barriers and really reach people. How can I
start using it with this particular client, as savvy and guarded
as he is?”
Response From Jerry Fjerkenstad, MA, LP
Use Hermes’ Web to illustrate the following principles and lay them out for consideration. Offer some
information and observations about his situation to see if he bites. Don’t just try to prove he suffers
from these principles. Let him “come to the Web” or he will remain in denial.
First, use the Web and barrier to demonstrate the two worlds this man is living in — the ego on top of the barrier and the core below it.
He feels the need to create a separate world and likely feels ashamed to let his wife see what goes on there. So, he denies its
existence. His core, the center of the Web, gets his needs met through the online behavior — essential needs from his point of view.
These needs are not likely expressed, known, or honored in the current relationship.
He has likely made overtures, peeking above the barrier only to be rebuffed by his wife. How clear his message was and whether the
“negative” response was purposeful are open to interpretation.
Then, explain that addiction itself is a set of powerful needs that rule the core — needs that the ego denies or is unable to acknowledge.
Can the needs be acknowledged in some way? Can the wife even consider whether such powerful needs exist or whether they could be
legitimate? If she cannot consider their potential legitimacy, he will remain in denial.
Use the Web to explain the ego’s disconnected nature: what lies above the barrier is out of touch with what lies below it. When the
behavior from below is caught or suspected, the ego denies it and considers it “out of character.” The core-level behavior does not
match the image this man has crafted for people to see. This dystonic nature is a totally natural, human condition, and you should
initially approach it without blame. An effective way to do that is to discuss how the ego becomes a lawyer who protects the core at any
cost. The lawyer wants to push the truth away, intimidate, deny, attack the character of the accuser (the wife), and use the evidence to
create alternate scenarios — whatever it takes to vigorously protect the accused.
Finally, discuss the “core whore” — that sexual image, object, or facet that the human core worships more than any other (e.g., large
breasts, long legs). Not many men are married to their core whore and some may not have made a clear decision about whether they
can live with that or not. If this particular client can look at his situation openly and honestly, he will have to ask himself how important his
core whore is in relation to his marriage and make a clear decision. To ignore the core whore is to let it come from a hidden place to
exert its power and undermine the marriage. The core whore becomes competition in the relationship, whether it is an actual woman or
some concoction on the Internet.
Overall, the key here is to use Hermes’ Web to get acknowledgement of certain truths about the ego and the core. Leave room for this
client to respond in his own way, but (like Milton Erickson) make sure to create areas of agreement that are non-lethal and non-
threatening and work from there. Let him teach you what he knows about these principles from his own life experiences and what he
sees in Hermes’ Web. Essentially, the Web becomes a neutral meeting place where fingers aren’t pointed and where very sensitive
issues can be explored in a delicate, yet useful way.
The wife must also acknowledge these principles to create a platform of understanding in which the more troublesome behaviors can
be considered. The addiction would not have engaged in the first place if it didn’t represent essential, legitimate needs. How those
needs can be played out within the parameters of a committed, honest, and healthy relationship is another issue. Ultimately, Hermes’
Web helps set up the ground rules for in-depth and practical engagement.