Porn addiction does seem like a strange topic to discuss and it doesn’t come up much in polite company. In its most extreme form using up hour after hour, it starts to sap the essence of relationships, motivation to be productive and one’s sheer well-being. The first move is to realize that the problem is neither ridiculous nor infallible. Whatever your opinions are on the issue of pornography and whether there can actually be an addiction to it, it remains a real issue that so many people deal with, men and women, boys and girls.
Pornography addiction is becoming a huge problem for teenagers
It used to be easy for parents to monitor the kind of things that their children watched or were exposed to but nowadays kids have all these mobile devices with high-speed internet connections at their fingertips thus there is virtually no barrier between them and porn. According to psychotherapists, this exposure is a serious issue as it could be presenting them with a false image of sexuality. Porn is a fantasy no different from most of the fantasies displayed in various sci-fi and epic movies. For many young people whose only understanding of sexuality is what they see online, experts say it can create a distorted vision of intimacy making it nearly impossible to maintain a real romantic relationship.
Is pornography addiction a mental disorder?
No, pornography addiction is not a mental disorder, as it is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders. There are conflicting research and reports regarding the addictive nature of pornography.
Pornography addiction is a small subset of sexual addiction
Sex addiction, sometimes referred to as hypersexuality or hypersexual disorder, is defined as the compulsive need to have sexual activity in spite of the ensuing potential negative consequences. As both actions (sex addiction and porn addiction) release the same pleasure chemicals into the brain, many are quick to lump pornography addiction and sex addiction into the same mix. However, the two are differentiated by the fact that sex addiction requires a predilection towards intercourse while pornography merely implies the need to view explicit material. So in other words, many sex addicts overuse porn but porn addicts often don’t crave sex per se.
Pornography can be seen as a substitute for an actual multiple sex partners scenario. For porn addicts, the fantasies that are played out in porn can never be met in real life sex scenarios. According to a study in a journal of sex research, men who watch porn once a week have a greater desire for partners who talk dirty, dominate them, use sex toys and engage in threesomes. For addicts, this can take a toll on their relationships as it becomes very difficult to enjoy intimacy with a partner which in effect makes them emotionally distant and thus begin the negative spiral that so many addicts face.
Pornography and the Brain
Our brains respond powerfully to stimuli like sexual attraction in conditions where they are very scarce. Our brains never acquired the capacity for self-control commensurate with the temptations offered by the modern day digital world. Levels of discipline that were once entirely adequate to deal with sexual attraction in small villages just can’t cope with the multitude of galleries of millions of explicit digital content available today. The problem of porn addiction is similar to that of food. It has been shown that pornography addiction has similar neurological repercussions to those that are found with eating disorders and other types of addiction. Our brains that were once fully equipped to manage stimuli from a few berries are now defenseless before the vast array of artificial sweeteners and additives we have in food today.
How does pornography affect the brain?
Pornography affects the brain in the same way that eating disorders and other kinds of addiction do. They share the same neurological repercussions. The pressures and stressors of a person’s environment are what make users vulnerable to pornography addiction.
Also with all of the pressures of real life routines, relationships, unfulfilling workplaces, difficult family dynamics, a lot of people fall into a despondency that makes them extremely vulnerable to the intense highs offered by the content of these explicit videos and images.
Side Effects of Porn Addiction
The short term and long term side effects of porn addiction are something that we are only just beginning to understand as more and more research is geared towards this. At Cambridge, they studied the brains of 19 porn addicts versus a control group of people who say they are not addicted to porn and they did brain imaging study. The same kind of brain activity that is observed in alcoholics, drug addicts, and, gambling addicts was also observed in the brain of porn addicts. The same pleasure and reward centers of their brains lit up during the imaging.
There are inherent dangers associated with porn addiction just as any other form of addiction. Alcohol, drugs, and gambling are mostly fine on their own if they are engaged responsibly but once a crucial threshold is passed we start to see the negative effects and outcomes. The same thing applies for pornography and its addiction.
Porn addiction desensitizes the user and as time goes on, he starts to crave more and more. Someone who starts out with just little erotic and softcore content begins to crave something more hard-core and this can actually degenerate into a desire to play out these fantasies in real life with unwilling partners which can sometimes have a violent outcome.
Also, we begin to see not just a behavioral change but structural changes in terms of how the user’s brain responds to stimuli as it triggers the addiction cycle in the brain.
Lastly, there is an almost inevitable outcome of masturbation addiction as a direct result of porn addiction. Anybody addicted to pornography will almost always masturbate as regularly as he watches porn so the correlation is direct.
How common is pornography addiction?
20% of men admit to accessing porn at work, and 13% of women admit to the same. 40 million adults in the U.S. regularly visit porn sites. 10% of these adults are considered to have a pornography addiction.
Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and it has been suggested that because so many people are using porn today, the porn industry is making more money than all of the professional sports combined.
According to statistics:
- 20% of men admit to accessing porn at work and 13% of women admit to the same.
- 40 million US adults regularly visit porn sites.
- 10% of adults admit to porn addiction.
- 17% of women suffer porn addiction.
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