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I recently watched “Sixth Sense” after having not seen it in many years. I was struck again by the boy’s torturous struggle. He keeps the secret that he sees dead people (ghosts) because he doesn’t want anyone looking at him like he is a freak. He especially shields his mother from it despite the agony it causes him to fight his struggle alone. He is constantly terrified and isolated. The boy eventually feels compelled to confess the secret to his therapist after a “rock-bottom” incident. You can feel the boy’s shame, vulnerability, and absolute dread saturate the scene as he takes a deep breath and whispers in a quivering voice, “I’m ready to tell you my secret.” After drawing another tremulous breath, he delivers the shocking confession: “I see dead people”. His therapist battles to control his reaction and mask his shock so as not to betray the delicate trust the boy has placed in him. He acknowledges the enormous risk and fear the boy’s revelation involves. The therapist gently probes with a question: “When do you see them?” The camera tightens in on the boy’s face and with tear-brimmed eyes he delivers the most haunting line of the film: “All the time.”
The familiarity of this scene slammed into me with new force as I saw a fresh parallel with those who battle pornography addiction. The sufferer bears the crushing burden alone, certain that no one can or will understand. The addict refuses to bring pain and awkwardness to parents or spouses for fear they will look at them differently or reject them. The addict will even confide in a stranger before burdening a loved one with their horrible secret. It takes a while to test the water and see if a person is trustworthy enough the hear the secret. It may take a rock-bottom incident to compel the addict to come clean. The confession is done haltingly and through teeth gritted in absolute knee-knocking terror. There is no telling how the hearer will react and the risk is monumental. The words come slowly and reluctantly with tears poised ready to fall. “I see naked people.” The confidant may gently ask, “How often?” With shuddering breath, the answer comes: “All the time.” And that is the tragic fact of the matter. Even when the computer is powered down and the television turned off, the images remain. There is no escape. When an image appears in the mind, the addict reacts with rage and disgust, mentally crumpling the page in a fist and throwing it over the shoulder. “No! I don’t want to think about that anymore! Leave me alone!” But the image (or another more tempting one) reappears instantly like a nagging pop-up notification on a computer screen. The endless process of clicking “X to close” is exhausting mentally and spiritually.
All the time.
The boy in the film initially refuses the therapist’s offer saying others have tried but “no one can help me”. The addict has tried cold-turkey, blocking channels, accountability software, internet filters, self-torture/punishment, and BEGGING God every single day to take away the lustful thoughts and feelings. Nothing has worked. God seems silent. The thoughts and images relentlessly hunt and haunt the addict.
All the time.
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