Imagine somebody trying to overcome a habit of gluttony who spends his free time watching cooking shows, and who, every time he passes a bakery, stops to breathe the smells in deeply for a full minute.
It’s not going to work. The temptation to overeat doesn’t occur in isolation: it’s a symptom of a broader mindset. We notice the overeating because it’s obvious, and because we feel bad afterwards. But we don’t always notice what led up to it, because we’ve gotten in the habit of letting ourselves get away with these things — and because, in and of themselves, they might not even be sinful.
In the same way, if you’re trying to kick a porn or masturbation habit, you’re not going to succeed unless you — sorry about this — change your life. The actual act of masturbating or viewing porn, as damaging as it is, might not be the most serious problem you face.
Going around with an eye that gobbles up little sexual details all through your day, and lingers a second too long on every bit of bare skin it sees; habitually viewing your fellow human beings, not as brothers and sisters and fellow immortals, but as mechanisms with the potential to satisfy your cravings — this is the real problem, the real disease.
The act that follows, at a weak moment, isn’t the point. That’s just the inevitable flowering of the dark plant that you’ve been watering, and tending, and singing to, all day long.