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Porn Addiction – Myth or Method?

By Rob Peach

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Porn Addiction:  Myth or Method?
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Last week, I was contacted by a journalist, Erika Peter, who curates a cool site for millennials called MadlyJuicy.com. Erika was writing an article on porn addiction and wanted my ‘expert’ view.   Clearly having done her research, she asked a number of pointed and relevant questions.  Here are a few of my responses:

E: What is really porn addiction?

R:  ‘Porn addiction’ is concept that has been created to explain or help people make sense of compulsive sexual behaviours.  While it is a term that has become part of our every day language, the concept of porn addiction is NOT a clinically validated, evidence based or scientifically proven phenomena.  That is not to say that some individuals don’t struggle to regulate or limit their use of porn, however, to label this use as an addiction is not something that we have the evidence to do at this point.

E: Is watching porn a bad idea? Is it ok to watch it, or should it be avoided?

R:  Porn can be a healthy, exciting and erotic part of any individual’s sexual self-expression.  It can provide individuals opportunities to explore their sexuality when, ideally, it’s use is balanced with a host of healthy sexual behaviours and relationships.

E:  Porn didn’t seem to be such a huge issue when it was only accessible late night on the cable. Millennials are living in a digital age where porn is accessible online for free. How did the digital age impact the consumption of porn?

R:  Technology made porn, and a whole host of other erotic experiences, more accessible and affordable.  The market for porn has grown rapidly, and, as such, its use has become increasingly normalized among millennials.

E:  If you already have treated porn addicts who are Millennials (20 to 35 year olds), according to you, what would be the major differences between them and the previous generations?

R:  I don’t think that there are major differences between millennials or older adults when it comes to porn use.  As times change, as adults we change with them and patterns of use, from my vantage point, seem pretty consistent across the generations.   What I do see, however, is that millennials seem more comfortable and less ashamed of talking about their difficulties with porn use than previous generations .

E:   According to you, what do porn addicts have in common? (Ex.: low self-esteem, only child etc.)

R:  People that struggle with porn use often have difficulties regulating their emotions and tend to experience struggle with controlling their urges and behaviours.  Many of the men that I work with use porn to cope with anxiety, to improve their mood or to avoid painful emotions or situations.

E:  There are some single porn addicts who believe that if they get into a relationship, their addiction would get fixed. Is that ever true?

R:  What is true is that healthy, rewarding and meaningful sexual relationships help people to better cope with and resist less desirable sexual thoughts and urges, so being in a relationship can help… but not ‘fix’.

E:  We often see porn addicts as hyper-sexualized human beings. But does porn really increase the sexual desire with a partner?

R:  Porn does not increase sexual desire with a partner.  Attraction, erotic connection and intimacy increase desire.

E:   How can a porn addiction affect somebody on a daily basis (at home, at work, outside doing any activities)?

R:  Compulsive use of porn can cause people to feel shame and guilt.  It also can result in people feeling insecure and potentially avoiding sharing openly with others due to fears of being judged.

E:  I collected a few testimonies of porn addicts who told me “I’m not sure I’m a porn addict, but…” For any potential addicts who will read this article, what are the most common sings of porn addiction?

R:  If your porn use is having negative consequences in your life, you might have an issue.  For example, if it becomes an issue that causes significant conflict in your intimate relationships or if you are ‘caught’ by an employer for viewing porn at work, you might be having difficulty regulating your use.

E:   When does it become necessary to consult a therapist?

R:  You should consult a therapist as needed… there is no ‘criteria’ that one needs to meet in order to be seen by and there is no harm in getting support at any point with issues related to your sexual behaviour.

E:  What can a porn addict except from a therapy session?

R:  You should expect your therapist to be nonjudgemental, empathetic and skilled in helping you to develop strategies to cope with thoughts and urges, rather than feel controlled by them.  The therapist should work with your goals and not ‘prescribe’ treatment based upon their own personal values or beliefs.  You should expect a therapist to be sex-positive, respectful and knowledgeable.

You can read Erika’s article here:  Madly Juicy: Tales of Ex-Porn Addicts

Why sex addiction model is so pervasive?
1.  press releases
2.  no need for ‘science’ when there is the internet (not peer reviewed)
3.  PANICdotal evidence
4.  Peers and identity: true believe, cult ish
5.  We weren’t there to fulfill the need so SA stepped in
6.  Media power, Katie Couric
7.  Sex addiction therapist to sex therapist
8.  ‘intensive treatment’
9.  severe moral / faith interests
10. people fear sex
11. politics trumps sex knowledge
– David Ley

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