Eddie Capparucci, Ph.D.
Counselor, Coach, & Sex Addiction Specialist
Disclaimer: Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative awareness and education organization. While the guest in this episode discusses religion, Fight the New Drug is not religiously-affiliated.
Eddie Capparucci is a licensed professional counselor and certified sex addiction specialist. For over 10 years, Eddie has worked as a licensed professional counselor, but when he noticed more patients who were struggling with a compulsion to pornography were coming into his practice, he decided to get certified as a sex addiction specialist. In his practice, he’s been able to help individuals who struggle with an unwanted compulsion to pornography by helping them work through unresolved childhood problems. In addition to him being a licensed therapist, Eddie also has his own personal story with sex addiction and a compulsion to porn.
You can learn more about Eddie Capparucci or find his books at https://abundantlifecounselingga.com/.
FROM THIS EPISODE
- Check out Eddie’s website: Abundant Life Counseling
- Mentioned in this episode: John Bradshaw
- Book: Healing the Shame that Binds You
- Article: How These 3 Factors Can Fuel Someone’s Porn Habit
- Article: Everything You Need To Know About Fortify, The Porn Addiction Recovery Platform
- Article: Why The Opposite Of Porn Addiction Isn’t Just Sobriety- It’s Real Human Connection
- Watch our documentary series “Brain, Heart, World”
Fight the New Drug Ad: Regardless of age, ethnicity, gender sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political persuasions, or any other diversifying factor porn can impact anyone. If you’ve recognized the harmful effects of pornography in your life or recognize the harms pornography can cause in society, we welcome you to become a Fighter and take the Fighter Pledge. As Fighters, we strive to be bold, understanding open-minded and accepting. If you’re ready to become an official Fighter, we invite you to read the full Fighter Pledge and sign it at ftnd.org/fighterpledge that’s ftnd.org/fighterpledge.
Garrett: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming a podcast by Fight the New Drug. And in case you’re new here Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects, using only science facts and personal accounts. We want these conversations to be educational, uplifting, and hopeful. As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some. You can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning, listener discretion is advised.
Today’s conversation is with Eddie Capparucci. He’s from Georgia. He’s a licensed therapist and is certified to help people who struggle with compulsive sexual behavior. With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation. We hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
We want to welcome to the podcast, Eddie. Um, Eddie, I forgot how to pronounce your last name. I should know this because it’s a really cool last name.
Eddie Capparucci: It’s really easy Cap (CAP), PA, Rucci. Capparucci.
Eddie Capparucci: Yep. There you go.
Garrett: Solid name, um…
Eddie Capparucci: It rolls off your tongue. [laughter]
Garrett: It does, and I learned last time I spoke with you that its Italian.
Eddie Capparucci: It is.
Garrett: Um, you’re currently in Georgia. How’s Georgia?
Eddie Capparucci: Georgia is good. We’re a little bit cooler. Uh, right now we’re hitting the nineties, uh, last week and today we’re only about 80. Um, by the weekend though, we’ll be back into 90 again. Summer is here.
Garrett: Nice. Yeah, that’s a good feeling. Um, are you a fan of the humidity?
Eddie Capparucci: Oh, well who doesn’t like humidity? [laughter]
Garrett: [laughter] I don’t know if you’re joking.
Eddie Capparucci: I am joking.
Garrett: I feel like some…
Eddie Capparucci: No, I don’t mind heat. I mean, I could be out there in the nineties, even if it hits one hundred. I’m fine with the heat, but with no humidity. Humidity is awful.
Garrett: It gets ya? The only benefit is the benefits, the skin. Right?
Eddie Capparucci: True. True.
Garrett: Well, um, Eddie, if you would do our listeners a favor and explain what all those letters after your name mean, like what are you, what are your qualifications?
Eddie Capparucci: [laughter] Yes, yes. I am a licensed professional counselor here in the state of Georgia and I’m also a certified sex addiction specialist. And the other certification I have is to do clinical supervision. So therefore I work with people who are moving to get their license and I work with them to go through the process of, uh, you know, their caseload, what they’re learning and how, you know, I can see them better functioning in the role of a counselor.
Garrett: Cool. And how long have you been practicing?
Eddie Capparucci: For about 10 years now? I was in the corporate America for 25 years. I was a marketing and advertising executive. Uh, when I went back to school, got another master’s degree again, did all the state work, passed the national boards and started a practice. And when I started my practice, I started as a generalist and, you know, just seeing everybody like anxiety, you know, uh, depression, all of that. But after a very short time, these folks started walking into my office that were struggling with pornography and sex addiction. And I was looking at them and I’m saying, “Oh my gosh, that was me like 15 years ago.” And with that, I said, “You know what? I never even thought about specializing in treating the client.” So I went back and, uh, obtained a certification and it actually two certifications. And I’ve been doing this now for like the last year, uh, eight years, pretty much exclusively.
Garrett: Wow. What a journey.
Eddie Capparucci: It was an amazing journey. Like I told you, it’s, it’s a long story, but it’s a really interesting one. If anybody wants to see it, they can go to our abundantlifega.com a website, and you can see a video there with my wife and I tells the whole story.
Garrett: Okay. Thank you. Would you repeat the URL? You said abundantlifeGA…
Eddie Capparucci: Yep. Abundantlifecounselingga.com
Garrett: Okay. We’ll link that to this episode for those that want to go see, um, watch that video to learn more about your experience. So not only do you have the qualifications, in regards to academics, but you also have a personal account with an addiction?
Eddie Capparucci: Yes I do. Um, I, uh, was, I was pretty much porn was there, but my biggest issue was I was a womanizer. Um, from the time I started dating at 16, I could not just have one girlfriend. I needed multiples. And even when I decided to try to settle down and get married because I thought, “Okay, this is the woman who, uh, it could give me everything.” Um, I still was unfaithful. And when she, when she found out, she said, “Let’s try to work this out. And I said, no, I can’t. There’s something wrong with me. I don’t know what it is and I don’t want to hurt you anymore.” So I went back to my lifestyle and then finally met someone else. And I said, “Oh, I think she’s the one. She can do it for me.” And sadly that didn’t work out either.
Um, I was married for about 10 years and again, between all of the various relationship during that time. And when she found out, she also was like, “Let’s see if we can work through this.” And once again, it was like, “No, I can’t. There really is something wrong with me.” But it was at that time that I went to go seek help and guidance. And what I found out was I was suffering from an attachment disorder. I was, I have an avoidant attachment disorder, which means basically that I will never let people too close to me because my worldview of my inner child is, you know, the people who love you will leave you to people who love you will hurt you to what it was. I’ve always had one foot in and one foot out of relationships. And what I finally figured all that out and got everything settled. I finally met my current wife and we’ve been together now for 23 years. We’ve been married 21, back to be 21 on July 4th. And I’m really happy to say I’ve been fateful that entire time. Uh, not something that you probably should have to brag about, but, you know, in my case it was a massive achievement because I never thought I’d ever be able to get there.
Garrett: Yeah. I think that is something to be proud of. So good for you. Thanks for sharing.
Eddie Capparucci: You’re welcome.
Garrett: Um, it takes a lot to have that self-awareness. How did you finally identify that you had an attachment disorder?
Eddie Capparucci: Uh, it was through counseling. We went back and we looked at the fact that my father died when I was five, uh, my mother had four kids. I was the third. Uh, I was the second from the youngest and my mother had a nervous breakdown. So what happened if we all got shipped out individually to various relatives? So I’m with people I don’t even know. I’m five years old, uh, taken away from mom and dad and my siblings and I with the people who were just strangers. And I was there for about a year. And till finally my mom thought, “Okay, I’m ready. I can bring my family back or moving forward.” Well, shortly after she brings us back, do you have a number, another breakdown so we can ship out again, but this time they sent us to different relatives.
So now with other people, I have no idea who these folks are. And therefore we stayed there for about another three months before my mom finally brings it back. And when she does again, this is like the mid sixties. And here she is a single mother of four kids, and she had to work a lot. And I had two older sisters and they used to watch me. But as you can imagine, an older sister really don’t want to be babysitting a seven year old. So I was in my room most of the time, you know, trying to just entertain myself while they were out there watching American Bandstand or something. And I’m not angry with them about that. I understand what happened, but as you can see many people in my life weren’t there and it was very disappointing. So therefore we grew this fear that if I let anyone get close, they will hurt me and they will leave me.
Garrett: Yeah, that’s tough. Uh, I always say that I feel like each kid is entitled to, um, the connections that are needed for them to be healthy. And it’s unfortunate because of life, what life is. It’s unfortunate that not all of us get those.
Eddie Capparucci: Absolutely.
Garrett: So it sounds like you had a tough childhood in some ways. Did you enjoy childhood at the same time or was it all around tough?
Eddie Capparucci: It was a, it was almost non-existent because I was by myself so much of the time or around people who I didn’t really know that well. Um, or just being pushed back and forth from places. You don’t, um, look forward to things and you don’t develop a lot of memories that are good and positive now after, um, you know, my mom remarried about, uh, when I was about 12. And although he was, he was rather an abusive man. He wasn’t physically abusive, he was more verbally abusive. I had, I had a really good set of friends. I grew up in a neighborhood with like, you know, a dozen boys. So I was able to go out and really start to cultivate real relationships and to have fun. But I really, I gravitated to girls, uh, because what I was looking for was more along the lines of a sense of nurturing from them. But the way I looked at nurturing was sexually, you know, let me be, let me show you how much I love you by how I touch you and make you feel, and the same thing for you to do that to me, that, to me was nurturing. And of course that was not proper nurturing is a form of nurturing, but it’s not, they shouldn’t be the centerpiece of what a relationship basically.
Garrett: Right. Interesting. So, uh, once again, I just want to say, thanks for sharing this stuff. Thanks for being vulnerable and strong and courageous, so we can learn from you and from your experiences. Um, fast forward and now you’ve not had 23 years of being I’m being true to that agreement you made with your current wife, but you also have 10 years practicing. Um, and just for our audience to know you wrote a book, you’ve written a couple books and I got one of them just purchased it on audible. I got the book called going deeper. Can you talk to those two books a little bit and tell us the difference between them?
Eddie Capparucci: Yes. Uh, the first book Removing Your Shame Label, How To Break Free From Shame And Feel God’s Love at that, that that book came to mind for me, when it might practice, I was shocked by the number of people who’d come in, who were Christian, but yet they felt so detached from God. And with that, I started to understand, wow, you know what? There is, there is this Christian change cycle that people are in that because of their behavior, their poor behavior, they, you don’t get locked in this, um, pattern or just circle where they act out with something. And then they had this great shame and remorse at that additional, uh, shame and guilt, drive them back to their behaviors again. Very much like the addiction cycle. And so what I did was I walked through what brings that out in people, why does that happen.
And then what are the steps you could take to try to remove it from your life, then not with the first book, the, uh, the second book that you were talking about Going Deeper, How The Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction. Um, in my practice, when I came to understand about sexual addiction, and this is my belief that at the heart of a sexual addiction or pornography addiction is unresolved childhood pain points. And those pain point that in the end, whether they be big traumas or little traumas. And many times, they are small traumas. It’s like death by a thousand cuts. Those things still haunt us today. The problem is we have suppressed. So many of those memories, those hurtful, painful memories that we’re not aware of, of what is truly causing our emotional distress and pain. But there is someone who does know that, and that’s our inner child, because the inner child is like the storage unit of all that pain that we have.
So therefore something will occur in our current life that remind the kid of something from our past life. And now these two worlds collide the path in the present. And when that happens to inner child wanting just one thing, all he wants is comfort. He’s going to drive us to distract because the way he came up with the idea of comfort, was that as a young child, when nobody is teaching him how to process with the emotional pain, take me for example, what I just shared with you. There’s nobody talking to me about that. My father died, nobody telling me about what my mom going through, except “Mommy’s sick.” That’s it? There’s nobody there to walk me through. What do I do with the feelings I have? There’ll be, cause I there’s no one there to do that. I have to come up with my own solution and being five, six years old, having very few worldly experiences and also being more emotionally based in my thinking than cognitively based.
I come up with one solution. “I’m not going to think about it.” And how do I not think about it? I’m going to distract myself. So therefore I’m going to engage and maybe too much play too much TV, too much food, too much isolation, whatever it may be. And at some point come across that I did pornography around the age of 13, and now it’s like, “Oh my gosh, this is the ultimate distraction. This… sex can keep me from ever feeling any sort of distress that I may have.” So therefore, any kind of pain I suffer through growing up and in my late teen years and my early adult years, that was the cure for it. The antidote from my pain was sex with different women.
Garrett: And so in the book, by the way, I wanted to mention, you’ve mentioned, um, God, a couple of times and spoken to, um, religious things. And I just wanted our audience to know that we, as an organization, we at Fight the New Drug, we’re non-religious, um, and non-legislative. A portion of our audience is religious. A portion of them are not because we have so many from around the world. Um,…
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah. I worked with atheist. I’ve worked with people who are Jewish. I worked with Muslims. Um, there are many people who come in here. Uh, they come in here because of the clinical aspect of what I do. I help resolve childhood pain trauma that I believe is to driver toward our addictive behavior. The centerpiece is around helping people with these, uh, with trauma and identify what are those core emotional triggers that activate the kid.
Garrett: Right. Can you talk to those a little bit?
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah. What I did in the book was I identified nine different children type that we have. Uh, for example, there’s the board child. That’s somebody who grew up in this environment that really offered very little in the way of positive interaction from family members. So even if you’re surrounded by a lot of people, you may have felt very isolated and alone. So therefore they grow up to learn to entertain themselves and they feel more comfortable when they’re alone than the words when they’re with other people. Uh, and therefore, but life is rather boring. And again, these are the folks who also similar to what I did when you come across sex, they find, “Wow, this offers a level of stimulation like they’ve never felt before.” Uh, there’s also the unnoticed child, deeper kids who nobody ever chased them. You know, whether they were friends or family, they were rarely ever sought out.
So therefore they never felt like they belong. The young unaffirmed child, they grew up with, you know, little in the way of praise or perhaps they received a lot of criticism, but the result is the same, and that if they suffer from low self worth, the emotional avoidant child, these are the people who have a difficult time, emotionally connecting with others. Uh, somewhere along the way, they received the message that feelings weren’t important and practically they’re even dangerous. So therefore they didn’t learn how to engage in a healthy way emotionally they don’t bond. Therefore they really struggle in creating a relationship with other people, the lack of control child, they grow up in a very hectic or chaotic environment. And therefore they seek control today. Why? Because the past demonstrate, “When things are out of control, bad things happen to me.” So they now use sex as a distraction for those things, they can’t control. The entitled child, these are kids who felt they were devalued at children.
If teenager, maybe they lacked the boys or perhaps they were unjustly accused quite often. So therefore they use sex as a reward and their worldview is “I deserve this.” And then the last three children are one, the inferior, weak child. These are folks who grew up condition that they were weaker or more inferior, uh, whether it was by their parent or sibling, their peers, and therefore they use sex to feel empowered. And they’ll use that one of other ways. One of two ways, one, “I use this to use other people.” You know, it empowers them to have control power or “I deserve to be used.” So now they’re using it as a control mechanism, but yet they’re taking a more submissive approach. Uh, the stress child, they grew up in a very anxious environment also. And, but what happened with there was so much anxiety that over a period of time, that child, again, as a coping mechanisms, decide to ignore this anxiety. You have to put it out of your mind and just distract himself from it, but it never fully goes away. It’s always there under the surface. So therefore they have to use sex on a regular basis to sooth their anxiety. And then finally the last child used the early sexually stimulated or the sexually abused child. And I think that pretty much speaks for itself, but they wind up having this really bad view about sex that, um, “It’s dirty or bad.” or they think they are dirty or bad.
Garrett: That makes sense. Thanks for sharing those.
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah. What did we try to do with that, each of those children have their own, uh, core emotional triggers. And what happens with client needs to identify one, one, which, which kid do you resonate with? And then of that, what are the emotional triggers of that kid that would, uh, that would activate your kid and therefore then they memorize those. They know what they are. So now an event happened and it’s like, “Okay, maybe I feel like I’m invisible.” Okay. “Oh, you know what? That’s something that could activate my kid.” Therefore then they begin the process, the inner child, a recovery process, to be able to walk through that so that ultimately they can make a healthy decision.
Garrett: Interesting. And how do they go about increasing their awareness to a level that allows them to notice that be aware of it and then also make different decisions that are healthy?
Eddie Capparucci: Well, first and foremost, because this is, this is not a difficult process, but what it is the main point of all of this is the quest is the why question? “Why do I do what I do?”, “Why has sex had a strong hold on my life?” So as we’re going through this, they’re getting all this insight about, “Okay, what really went on in my childhood, what went on with my friends?”, “Why do I think, feel and act the way I do?” It’s really interesting, Garrett. at that. So many people come in and we say, I say, “Alright, well, let’s start looking back.”, “Oh, I had a great childhood. I had a wonderful childhood.”, and that they start to drill down. If they do go deeper, they start to understand that. Yeah. Do you know what they had good parents, but their parents weren’t perfect. Just like nobody parents were were perfect, but yet there were things their parents should have given them that they didn’t, whether that be in the way of nurturing and attention, or they did give them things they shouldn’t have done such as being neglectful to them. So in just in the process alone, they’re developing all this insight that can heighten their level of awareness of what they should look like, look for. But the other part of this process is learning one to slow everything down in life at to be mindful, mindful is a huge part of the inner child recovery process. People have to be able to learn, to stop being inwardly focused and to move outward, to be able to look around, be observant. I, I push people all the time about “Be curious.” They lack, most of these guys, they lack curiosity. Uh, and therefore it’s like “Be curious about things, start to really live life and experience it for much of the beauty that it has.”
So that part, that those are the ways that they learn how to do it. I have them write their, um, triggers on our index card or on their phone and they have to learn to memorize those. So that way they keep coming in every week I drill drill them on it. “So tell me, what are your triggers?” And they just run through them. And then what we also talk about is how did you get triggered this week? And then how did you handle that? What was, did you follow the steps that were involved? And again, it just that repetition that helps them to learn how to be more focused?
Garrett: Yeah. I think a lot of our listeners can benefit from this. Um, even though they’re not gonna be able to come, what did you do sessions over the online as well as in person?
Eddie Capparucci: I do. I do online, especially lately what’s happened with this COVID virus thing that we needed to do all of them online, um, uh, I’m back in the office now, but about 50% of my clients are skilled doing the tele-health. Uh, and not because they’re fearful of getting ill, but because it’s more convenient for them traveling a half hour, one way, half hour back or even longer, I have clients who live two, three hours away. Um, now it’s like, Oh yeah, let’s do it all online. So probably about 50%. And I’m not sure that going to change. That was really the trend that people were trying to get counseling to move into and, uh, for the last four or five years. So I think it may take hold.
Garrett: That makes sense. Do you have any examples as people go through the therapy, um, examples, um, of being effective and people recovering that you can share with us?
Eddie Capparucci: Oh yeah, absolutely. Um, I have many I could share with you, but I’ll share this one with you. Um, he was addicted to porn at a very, very young age. He, he’s not that old he’s in his early thirties and he married and he has several children and he came across porn when he was about 10, who was a very young age, um, his lifestyle, he had a very controlling mom who only wanted him to be around and involved. Um, so he didn’t really get to make many friends growing up. And so what happened was with that, there’s an anxiety because he never felt like he really fit in at school. He found himself bullied found himself oxides. So he ran to porn to serve as a soothing mechanism for himself. Um, and now he, he meets a girl and he falls in love with her and he get married and he thinking just like everybody else, I’m sure you’ve heard this hundreds of time that, “Oh, that’ll take care of the porn problem.” And no, it doesn’t take care of the porn problem.
And the reason it doesn’t take care of the porn problem, it because there’s still the sense of feeling. “I’m not accepted by people.” Again, the bullying that he went through, the torment, “What’s wrong with me?” at that’s what he was looking at, “what wrong with me?” and even in work you’ve worked today he had people who were taking advantage of him at, you know, by putting more work on him and things like that. And he would just let it happen. And what we needed to do would build up his self-worth to show him exactly that he is strong, that he can stand up for himself. You know, he does have value. And in doing that, what we then saw with the emotional distress that he felt that his kid was feeling on a regular basis, in the sense of, you know, “I just don’t belong. I don’t fit in with this group.” He was able to now turn around and quiet down that anxiety and in turn, be able to walk away from pornography. And for him, it’s been about 10 months now that he’d been porn free.
Garrett: That’s great.
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah. And again, it’s all the insight that they gather about themselves that they weren’t even, they didn’t realize. I mean, them really liked the fact they go, “I have this sense that I feel weak” at that sense of weakness with still being activated today on a regular basis.
Garrett: Right. We’ve talked a lot about how you are addressing the inner child in your patients. Um, but what about their spouses or partners? Um, do you do anything to work on betrayal trauma?
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah, I, I worked with betrayal trauma about four years until my wife came into the practice. And then she, therefore she picked that up, but no, I actually, um, I do a monthly podcast called Getting to the Other Side, and that is about helping people get through, especially the betrayed spouse, uh, get through and navigate the pathway of healing. Um, I’m a big believer in the whole trauma model when it comes to that. I also is something that I really work with my, uh, my client to be very aware of the pain that their partners feeling and also how they can help them, especially in being able to just be present, not try to run away. And most importantly, don’t let their emotion, Trump, their partner’s emotion. We see it happen all the time. You know, the, the partner’s upset about something they’ve been triggered and the guy comes home and she’s just, she and grieving sometimes looks pretty like a hurricane at times, but that put it in.
We’re not, we’re not condemning her for that. That what Lynch I need to do that. But yet, then they start with, “Oh my gosh, I got to put up with this again. I don’t believe it. I thought we were good. How come? You know, it was still like this. When is it ever gonna end?” And it’s like, “Hey guys, you’ve got to stop. You have to stop. You need to be able to be a strong force for her. You weren’t there before, when you were going and you were acting out and she needs to know that you’re going to be there now.” And one of the things I really encourage my med to do is something I call walking, did the fire. Um, and basically what that is because many times they’ll say, “Oh, look, you know, she’s gone for five days, maybe a few weeks and there have been no outbursts. Oh, everything good. I think she she’s healed. We’re great.” And I always tell them, I go “There is another storm coming.” And so what I encourage them to do when there’s a period, period of time where their spouse or partner is, you know, just seem to be okay, walk into the fire and ask the question, “Hey, you know what I see that you been, you know, seems like you’re rather happy for the last couple days or the past few weeks, but I want to know what’s really going on underneath the surface. How much have you been thinking about what happening? And you know, if there are anything you want to talk about?” The reason I call it walking into the fire code. There’s a pretty good chance. You’re probably going to get burnt, but what did, what that does, it gives such a strong message of, “I am here for you.”, and two, “I know you’re still hurting. I’m not trying to ignore this. I’m not trying to pull you through it. I’m going to walk step by step with you the way I’ve should have been walking step-by-step with you through our whole marriage, but I wasn’t, but now I’m here and you could depend on me to help you.” And I tell guys, even if they, if she comes out with the blowtorch, I’ll guarantee you, whether it’s a few hours later or a couple of days later, she’s going to come back and she can say, “You know what, thank you for that. I really appreciate what you did at the fact that you were thinking about me.”
Garrett: Comparing your previous marriages before you addressed your inner child, um, to your current marriage. Do you feel like you’re able to walk into the fire in your current marriage and has that helped you?
Eddie Capparucci: Oh, I could. I could definitely walk into the fire with my, my current marriage, uh, the only thing that’s a little bit different about it is she’s a counselor, [laughter], and you got to worry about what you’re really going to get back. I’m not going to so much get the, the blow torch. I’m gonna wind up getting an analysis done. [laughter] So it is somewhat different, but yes, it’s a great, that’s a great question. You bring up because when it goes to, again, part of the heart of everything, I had a very low emotional IQ, nine, nine out of 10 of the men who come in here, they have a low emotional IQ. They can tell you if they’re angry, they can tell you if they’re sad, happy, or fearful, but they can’t drill down and tell you what they really feel. And even those men who can, they can pinpoint that emotion. They don’t know how to articulate it. They don’t know how to express it, but worse yet is the fact that if someone wants to be emotional with them, they don’t know what to do with it. It is just completely overwhelming. Their anxiety goes through the roof. And that’s why we talk about guys, want to fix it? “Oh, I know what you should do with that. This is the solution,” or they try to minimize it. I don’t know. You really shouldn’t worry about that. It’s not really a big deal. And so therefore the partners start to feel again, “Oh, I’m shut down. You don’t really want to engage with me. And you really don’t care.” And I had a very low emotional IQ and I’ve been working to build that up over the last 23 years. Uh, actually like maybe 25 years now, I’ll tell you, my, my emotional IQ was not, you know, at a hundred, it never will be, but it moved enough that when I don’t get it right, I can catch myself and therefore go back and say, “Hey, uh, can I have a Mulligan?”
Eddie Capparucci: Because I realize I did it wrong.
Garrett: Right. Cool. Looking at what you do. You talk about this treatment method that we have discussed. You also talk about overall. Um, can you talk to the difference between those two?
Eddie Capparucci: Yes, absolutely. And when we, we touched upon it a little bit, I don’t think you can touch upon the fact of, um, addiction without doing this, but you know, the more and more I started thinking about it and actually I’ll, I’ll share a real quick story for you. This is what brought it all on. Um, when I was doing the work with the, uh, betrayal trauma also, um, I had one of the wives in my office for a session, and her husband had been working, doing all his work. It’s been about, oh, it was probably almost 18 months. And she was still having difficulty, which is fine. Okay. You take your time, we’ll get it done. But I wanted to understand what that was. What was she really struggling with? So I asked her, I go, “So tell me, what is the key? What do you think that hurdle is that is preventing you from saying, ‘You know what, I’m ready to take another chance.’?” And she sat up on the edge of the couch and she looked at me and she said, “He’s telling me…”, and he had a porn problem, “He telling me that he’d been faithful for the last 18 plus months, he’s been faithful to me. Yet, I see a man who comes home, doesn’t pay much attention to his family, has his phone in his hand quite a bit, seems to be rather moody at times. You know, there’s nothing different about him with the exception that he’s telling me, ‘I’m no longer cheating on you.’” and then she goes “You tell me why should I believe this guy? If I see no other changes?” And I mean, it was like the light went on and I was like, “You know what? We need to do more. It can’t be just about helping men learn to manage the sexual destructive behaviors. We need to look for a bigger, greater transformation.”
And so what I done, if I get up by up various areas that men struggle with and it prevents them from having very healthy relationships. So like I said, there’s 11 different areas that are there that I’ve come up with. And so therefore, as we worked through helping them to manage their sexual addiction or pornography addiction, at the same time, we’re also working to help them with these other flaws that they have that prevent them from being able to do relationships.
Garrett: Wow. That’s really cool. I love that approach. And it seems like it’s so necessary. So I think you identified something there that, yeah, it’s necessary. So kudos to you and to the people who helped you identify that.
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah. For her, she did it. That was the, like I said, that was a catalyst and know, just to run through some very quickly what you add deeper things that we talked a little bit about. For one, they avoid emotional pain, that they will not sit with emotional pain. They’d lack, curiosity. Um, they’re inwardly focused. They’re the, they got their head down and they’re running through life and they’re not taking a moment to look up, to see what are the needs, wants and desires of those around me. They lack mindfulness that, of course they’re compulsive. We know that they have that. Uh, many of them suffer from mood disorders, anxiety, and depression for the most part. Uh, so we have to learn how to be able to deal with that. And few are really content, they find it very, very hard to just be grateful for what they have.
It’s always about whether I don’t have enough or what I have isn’t good enough or something along the lines of, I don’t deserve anything better. They also struggle with, they have limited interests and passions. And so many of my clients, one of the things they’ll say “I don’t really have friends.” And when you ask them, “Well, what do you do?” And they’ll say, “Well, I got, maybe I ride a bike or I play video game.” And again, they’re not living life to the fullest. And if you’re not living life to the fullest, how are you going to live? How are you going to have a relationship that is rich and robust? And that is to the fullest. You look again at the antidote for all of this, it is true connections. If you can develop that solid emotional bond with people. You know what, you don’t need the rest of this, but the problem is nobody showed most these folk how to do that. They don’t know how to do a relationship. And what I mean by do a relationship. They don’t know how to cultivate it, how to feed it, how to make it come alive to Jeff, walking through it, add their spouse gets very, very rejected by it. And also their addiction gets in the way of it too. But for me, it’s really been about connection. That’s been the biggest thing. If I never had that in my life, it’s only been in the last 23 years that I have gotten.
Garrett: That’s awesome. Are you of the opinion that everyone struggling with, uh, sex or porn addiction has the character flaws you mentioned?
Eddie Capparucci: Well, the thing is, I think they have some, I think everybody has some of these. They don’t have all of them. Like I have 11 of them. Nobody has, well, I don’t know. Maybe they do. I have…
Garrett: Fewer have…
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah. Right. A few. I mean, but for the most part, people have about four or five, maybe six. Uh, but yes, I do believe that these are issues because you know, the one thing I hear, the second biggest complaint I hear from the woman who’d been betrayed when she comes into my office, the first complaint of course is obvious. Okay. He broke my heart. But the second biggest complaint is “He is not emotionally attached. He is like a limp dish rag. I can get nothing out of him.” And that is true. I, I, and I’ve, I said to you before nine out of 10 guys, and I have documented it have low emotional IQ. So right there, there’s two that you have the lack of mindfulness. He probably another one being more inward inwardly focused. And when I talk about inwardly focused, that doesn’t mean they don’t do anything for people, but we’re talking about the emotional aspect of a relationship. There they’re not doing much for anybody cook. They don’t know how to do it.
Garrett: And how do you rate or score someone’s emotional IQ?
Eddie Capparucci: Well, first and foremost, I rank it on what I hear from the people around them, especially their spouse. Sometimes they’re there, they’re older kids may come in. Two, you know what I have yet to have anybody who I suspected this in. And I’ve said, “Hey, you know what? I think we got an emotional maturity problem here.” I have yet to have one of them pushed back on me. You could pick up a person’s emotion like you, by listening to their language, listening to the way they connect with you, the way they talk about connecting with others. And it’s pretty easy to get a sense of, “Hey, you know what? From an emotional IQ standpoint, you’re pretty high.” I had a guy in here for the last two days out doing an intensive with him. Um, and he has a pretty extensive, um, list of destructive behaviors that he has done in his 25 years of marriage.
But this, this guy had one of the highest emotional IQ I’ve ever encountered from anyone. He knows how to do it. He knows what it is. The problem is he’s afraid to do it. Remember what I said to you before they may be able to identify what they’re feeling, but they could be very reluctant to put it out there and the reason being, but they’ve been, they got the message somehow that doing that is unsafe or dangerous. The other challenging part is that the inner child for older, and I’m talking about much older clients, like 65 and above, it’s really difficult for them to try to zone in and figure out, “Okay, I’m supposed to WHAT? I’m supposed to nurture a little kid that’s within me?” And I have to back that up. And I have to talk to them about the fact that, “Hey, you know what you are that kid.”
And I have to really take it from the approach of working with them to say, “Alright, let focus on your pain points. Let’s put the kid to the side.” The whole kit, the whole thing about the kid and externalizing them the way I did once. I was hoping to remove a lot of shame from somebody, because now they could say, “Ooh, him, he’s the driver of a lot of this. You know what? I can fix him. I can fix him.” Because in many cases, if they’re like, “I can’t fix myself. I’m so broken. I’m so bad.” All of this other take away their accountability for what they did and is not an excuse for what they did, but they could look at the kid and they say, “I can nurture him.” And that’s the other thing. They learn how to nurture by dealing with this child at that something that they have to learn in order to improve the relationship.
Garrett: Can you talk to the difference between shame and guilt?
Eddie Capparucci: Oh yes. Uh, guilt. This is a Bradshaw conversation. K, Bradshaw, of course one of the biggest, uh, guru in the area of, uh, sh shame. Guilt is a quick summary. Guilt is “I did something wrong.”, “I messed up.”, “I made a mistake.”, “I committed an error.” Shame is “I’m wrong.”, “There’s something wrong with me.”, “I’m a mistake.”, “I’m an error.”, Uh, “I’m a problem.” “I did something bad.” Guilt. “I am bad.” That’s shame. Shame is one of the most toxic emotions that we have. If not the most toxic emotion, some people may say jealousy, but shame, shame can cause us to just give up to quit. It will keep us secluded. It will keep us from going out there and taking risks in developing relationship with other people, because the fear is “If they get too close, they’re going to see how ugly I am inside. And I can’t take that chance.”
So there’s so many things about shame and there’ve been so much work that had been done on that. And especially in this area, when you talk about addiction per se, but if one of the things we really have to start to address with people early on to be able to see if they can push that aside. And you’re not going to push all of it aside, but to be able to push it aside and say, “Okay, you know what, let me focus on the behavior and not on the back that I feel so awful about myself.” There’s a lot of self-loathing that goes on when you’re talking about shame.
Garrett: Eddie, You, uh, you’ve taught me a lot today. How much do I owe you for the therapy session?
Eddie Capparucci: [laughter]
Eddie Capparucci: I’ll write this one off. Don’t worry about it.
Garrett: Okay. Thank you. No seriously though. You really have, um, I want to leave you with the opportunity to have the last word here. And, um, if you could give our listeners, um, a piece of advice, what’s the first step they can do to, to work towards recovery.
Eddie Capparucci: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the thing is you’re not alone. You know? Right now you may feel very isolated and more importantly, you may feel very fearful for bringing this up and bring it out. Thinking people are going to judge you. They’re going to shame you, but you owe it to yourself to take the first step, to go out and get the help you need. Because there have a lot of great help and resources that are out there. Things like this program and Fight the New Drug and what they do. I, you can start to live the life you deserve, but you have to be the first one to take the step. And I know scary understand that, uh, and I’m not, but hold onto the fear and move forward anyway.
Garrett: Thanks. That’s great advice, Eddie. Well, thanks again for making this happen. We know your time is valuable.
Eddie Capparucci: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Garrett: Absolutely. It was our pleasure.
Fight the New Drug Ad: Hey listeners, Did you know that Consider Before Consuming as a podcast by Fight the New Drug? Fight the New Drug is a non-religious non-legislative 501 C3 nonprofit that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on the harmful effects, using only science facts and personal accounts. Fight the New Drug is research-based, education-focused, sex-positive, and anti-shame. To learn more about Fight the New Drug and to see the additional free resources that we offer, like our three-part documentary series, and our interactive conversation guide, visit ftnd.org, that’s ftnd.org.
Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming. If you want to learn more about today’s guest and the conversation we had, you can check out the links included with this episode. Again, big, thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self awareness. Look both ways, check your blind spots and consider before consuming.
MORE RESOURCES FROM FTND
A three-part documentary about porn’s impacts on consumers, relationships, and society.
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Successfully navigate conversations about porn with your partner, child, or friend.
A database of the ever-growing body of research on the harmful effects of porn.
An interactive site with short videos highlighting porn’s proven negative effects.