The dark realities of porn addiction

dark realities.jpg

Grant J Everett

Now that we all carry high-speed Internet in our pockets, porn is easier to access than ever before. According to Dr GH Brenner, the PornHub website had over 23 billion visits and 92 billion video views in 2017 alone, making it one of the most accessed websites on the planet. Young people, in particular, are accessing pornography earlier and earlier in their psychosexual development. In a fast, impersonal world, porn’s instant gratification can be very appealing. But are there consequences? 

Sex creates chemical and psychological bonds, and watching pornography forms a similar link. Bonding with a screen can undermine the feelings of attachment and intimacy you get with flesh-and-blood humans. Also, according to Relationships Australia and the National Counseling Service, one in five Australian couples will battle intimacy and trust issues triggered by porn. In the 2018 paper “Till Porn Do Us Part?”, Perry and Schleifer surveyed 2,120 married adults for several years and found that the odds of divorce doubled if a spouse starts viewing porn behind the other’s back. Within a committed relationship, this can be interpreted as infidelity.

Like anything addictive, porn can be a way to deal with difficult emotions like fear, anger, stress, frustration, loneliness, shame and boredom. In the short term it might provide a degree of relief, but addictive things have the tendency to worm their way deeper and deeper. According to a 2015 study in Behavioral Science, the EEG readings of someone watching porn are similar to those of a drug user viewing drugs and drug paraphernalia. Hallmarks of a porn addiction include being consumed with thoughts of porn even when not viewing it, watching it in situations where getting caught is possible, feeling ashamed, guilty or depressed about indulging in it, continuing to watch it despite how much harm it causes, keeping it a secret from partners or spouses, losing track of time when viewing it, and trying and failing to quit. Porn addiction can also lead to actual sex becoming less satisfying.

Future innovations like virtual reality and tactile feedback hardware seem destined to make graphic adult material even more tempting. 

A study at The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction found 9 percent of habitual porn viewers have unsuccessfully attempted to stop watching it. The Kinsey Institute also recorded a greater-than-average incidence of erectile dysfunction and lowered libido among men who watch porn (“Is Internet Porn Making Young Men Impotent?”, E J Dickson). In the 2018 paper “Personal Pornography Viewing and Sexual Satisfaction: A Quadratic Analysis”, a study of 1,500 young adults found a definite correlation between higher frequencies of porn use leading to lower levels of sexual satisfaction overall. Even if the person taking part in the study only watched porn a few times a year, there seemed to be a lasting, measurable effect (Grant Hilary Brenner MD, March 5th 2018). 

According to Your Brain on Porn author Gary Wilson, watching porn spurs your brain to release dopamine. As this is how drug addiction works, excessively “wringing” the old gray matter can cause issues down the track. Also, over time, a porn addiction will require increasing intensities of stimulation to achieve the same effect. In a 2012 survey of 1,500 males who watch porn, 56% said their tastes had become “increasingly extreme or deviant” over time, and they’d escalated to types of porn that would normally have unsettled them or gone against their values. This leads to what Dr Abraham Morgentaler, Associate Clinical Professor of Urology at Harvard Medical,  School, “porn-induced erectile dysfunction.”

According to the Fight The New Drug website, a number of studies linked excessive porn use to spikes in feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, as well as social problems. Fight The New Drug also stated that after watching porn, men tend to feel less satisfied with their partners’ appearance, sexual performance and levels of affection.

Is pornography affecting your functioning, how you feel about yourself, or harming your relationships? You might want to consider whether you’d be better off without it. Embarrassment and shame are the biggest barriers to seeking help with addiction, but with support it’s possible to understand what’s driving you. Psychologists and counselors can help in developing useful tools. For instance, one solution is to download a parental locking app onto your phone to prevent it from being able to access adult material. If you get somebody you trust to set the password and keep it a secret from you, you can remove this device as a source of temptation. 

“Till Porn Do Us Part? A Longitudinal Examination of Pornography Use and Divorce”, The Journal of Sex Research, Samuel L. Perry & Cyrus Schleifer (2018)

“Personal Pornography Viewing and Sexual Satisfaction: A Quadratic Analysis”, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Paul J. Wright, Ana J. Bridges, Chyng Sun, Matthew B. Ezzell & Jennifer A. Johnson (2018) 

www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/is-internet-porn-making-young-men-impotent-253352/

“Porn-Induced Sexual Dysfunction: A Growing Problem”, Psychology Today, Robinson, M. And Wilson, G. (2011)

“Pornography’s Impact On Sexual Satisfaction”, Journal Of Applied Social Psychology Zillmann, D. And Bryant, J. (1988). 

“Associations Between Young Adults’ Use Of Sexually Explicit Materials And Their Sexual Preferences, Behaviors, And Satisfaction,” Journal Of Sex Research, Elizabeth M. Morgan

fightthenewdrug.org/overview

 

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