Porn Addiction

Porn Addiction

By Charlotte Fantelli

Pornography, it is a controversial topic at the best of times, before adding ‘addiction’ into the mix.

As with other forms of ‘sex addiction’ its very existence has been questioned. However, it is becoming more and more accepted that the condition does exist, with diagnosis and treatment becoming common practice.

What is porn addiction?

For the purposes of this article we are describing ‘pornography addiction’ as a condition in which the user of pornography:

  1. Is seeking pleasure/reward or escape, in the act of watching pornography.
  2. Is impacting negatively on other aspects of their life.
  3. Cannot simply stop using pornography even when it has negative consequences.

Stimulation

We as human beings get psychologically and physically aroused when presented with sights, sounds or smells, that play to our instinctive desires – to eat, or to procreate.

We are all programmed to feel pleasure when presented with these things, and as with all physically and psychologically arousing activity, we can enjoy the pleasure too much and seek more.

Sensitisation

It is often the case that a user of pornography may not find the same arousal looking at a continued level of erotic content. It may be that softcore pornography was once enough, but now to reach the same ‘reward’ the user must watch harder pornography; this process is known as sensitisation.

Take our pornography addiction test.

When something that once gave pleasure no longer provides the same stimulation or  ‘high’ an addict may continue looking for the ‘buzz’ by exploring more explicit content. For most pornography addicts this does not cross over into illegal activity or living out fantasies in the real world, but of course there are those that do.

Guilt

Many addicts report an overwhelming feeling of guilt or shame after using pornography. It is also this sense of shame that often prevents an addict seeking help when their pornography use starts infringing on other areas of life.

In our sister article ‘Pornography Addiction Story’ we take a look at Craig who tells us; ‘Getting help was as scary and embarrassing as picking up that first porno, I felt just like a little kid having been caught. But, thank goodness, just as I went back to the porn that first time, this time I went back for help. Therapy really has changed my life.’

Causes of pornography addiction

Many addicts have experienced a dysfunctional home life, Dr. Patrick Carnes, a highly acclaimed sex addiction researcher, notes that characteristics present in most sex addicts, including feelings of low self worth stem from family dysfunction, especially ‘rigid rules’, little warmth, abandonment, and sexual or emotional abuse.

"When a child's exploration of sexuality goes beyond discovery to routine self-comforting because of the lack of human care, there is potential for addiction. Sex becomes confused with comforting and nurturing” Says Carnes.

This is certainly the case of Craig in our Pornography Addiction Story.

Sex or pornography addicts do not always conform to the ‘dysfunctional childhood’ theory, and if you are struggling with sex addiction, whatever the cause, there is treatment available.

Treatment for pornography addiction

There are many different treatments on offer for porn addiction, with the most widely used being talking therapy and the 12-step programmes similar in theory to the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programmes.

Talking therapy offers the individual the opportunity to explore why they use and help work through this until they have healed the parts of them that seek solace in pornography.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been used to treat pornography addiction with some reports showing benefit. EMDR involves interrupting the desire before gratification by performing a series of eye movements.

If you are struggling with addiction you can speak to your GP and find out what services are available in your area, or seek help privately, see our list of private and confidential counseling services.

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