Is Porn Addiction Risk or Can it be Helpful

Back in 2004, a panel of experts testified before a Senate subcommittee that a product that millions of Americans consume is dangerously addictive. They were referring to pornography.

The impact of watching porn on the brain was pronounced “toxic” and resembled to cocaine. One psychologist declared, “prolonged exposure to pornography excites a preference for depictions of group sex, sadomasochistic exercises, and sexual contact with animals.”

Before the internet, if you wanted to see pornography, you needed to go out and buy a magazine or rent a video. Store hours and available that was used to hide pornography placed some restricts on people’s porn habits.

Today there are an approximated nearly half a billion adult web pages online. “For the person who has trouble stopping, more is only one click away,” says sex therapist Louanne Cole Weston, Ph.D.

There’s no question that some people’s porn consumption gets them in trouble — in the form of maxed-out credit cards, lost rest, neglected obligations, or ignored loved ones. However, Weston is one who takes issue with labeling problem behavior involving porn as an addiction. “‘Compulsive’ is more fitting,” she says.

Compulsion or Addiction
The distinction between characterizing the behavior as a compulsion or an addiction is subtle but imperative.

Erick Janssen, Ph.D., a researcher at the Kinsey Institute, examines the use of the word addiction when speaking about porn because he says it merely describes particular individual’s conducts as being addiction-like but regarding them as addicts may not help them improve or be in a position where they can improve.

Many people may diagnose themselves as porn addicts after reading popular books on the subject, he says. But mental health professionals have no conventional criteria to diagnose porn addiction.

Mary Anne Layden, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the observers at the Senate hearing on pornography addiction. She says the same standards used to diagnose issues like obsessive gambling and substance abuse can be applied to problematic porn use.

“The psychologist who treat pornography addicts say they act just like any other addicts,” she says.

One of the key characteristics of addiction, she says, is the increase of a tolerance to the addictive substance. In the way that drug addicts need progressively larger doses to get high, she believes porn addicts require to see more and more extreme and unconventional material to feel the same level of enthusiasm they first experienced.

“Most of the addicts will say, here’s the type of porn I would never look at, it’s so disgusting I’m never look at it, whatever that is — sex with kids, sex involving feces, sex with animals,” she says. “At some point, they will often cross over.”

Janssen disputes that people who look at porn typically progress in such a way. “There is unquestionably no evidence to support that,” he says.

Why People Watch Porn
Weston believes there are three primary reasons why people turn to pornography: to see their fantasies acted out, to avoid affection in a relationship, and merely to assist masturbation.

“Sometimes individuals are just going to it for something they wish they could engage in within their real life,” she says. “It fills in a hole or gap in their own relationship with their partner. They have a companion who doesn’t like to do oral sex, and they enjoy it themselves, and they’re in this relationship, and they want to stay in it, so they go and look at photos of oral sex.”



In this respect, porn can be a helpful component of a healthy relationship, she says, but in some situations, it can prevent closeness.

“Then there are the people who are too ashamed to explain what it is that they actually would like to engage in, so they go there secretively, never having admitted to their mate what they would like to try,” Weston says.

If they were to share their fantasy, they might discover their partner prepared to go along with it, and they may end up with exceedingly fulfilling sexual bonds. For others, however, that would be undesirable.

“Some people go there because the intimacy in the relationship is as intense as the person can stand it. If they were to uncover the sexual interest which is kind of their closely held secret, the intimacy would be just too high for their own capacity to tolerate it, so they save it for elsewhere,” Weston says.

Regardless of the role, it plays in relationships; people also watch pornography just to arouse themselves before or during masturbating.

“I think of porn addiction as a tag that’s used to punish behavior that’s not approved of socially,” Violet Blue, a sex instructor and author of The Ultimate Guide to Adult Videos, says. “A lot of it is shaming humiliating those who practice masturbation.”

Men are considered to be more readily aroused by erotic imagery than women are, but many women masturbate to pornography, too, she says.

She moderates an online chat board for female enthusiasts referred to as the Smart Girls’ Porn Club. “I sometimes receive emails from members of the group about various types of sexual problems,” she says, but no one so far has communicated concerns about stopping.

Health Life Media Team