Pornography addiction

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Pornography addiction, or more broadly overuse of pornography, is excessive pornography use that interferes with daily life. There is no diagnosis of pornography addiction in the current DSM. As with sexual addiction, of which it is a proposed form, there is debate as to whether or not it is an addiction. [1][2]

Diagnosis as an addiction


There is dispute about whether pornography addiction exists. There is further argument as to whether or not it has harmful effects. Some sex therapists argue that it is a real addiction with serious consequences, whilst others argue it is not comparable to substance addiction and should not be classed as such.[2]

Erick Janssen criticizes the application of the term addiction to pornography overuse, arguing that while it describes addiction-like behaviour, treating the users as addicts may not help.[1]Stephen Andert states that pornography is a problem for many people, and argues that it can take control of a person's life like alcohol, gambling or drugs, and "drag them kicking and screaming or voluntarily into the gutter." He argues further that the "addictive and progressive (or regressive) nature of pornography is well documented."[3]

Proposed definition

Pornography addiction is defined, by those who argue that it exists, as a psychological addiction to, or dependence upon, pornography, characterized by obsessive viewing, reading, and thinking about pornography and sexual themes to the detriment of other areas of one's own life.

Proposed diagnosis

Goodman compared the DSM criteria lists for various addictive disorders and derived these general characteristics:[4]

  • Recurrent failure to resist impulses to engage in a specified behavior
  • Increasing sense of tension immediately prior to initiating the behavior
  • Pleasure or relief at the time of engaging in the behavior
  • At least five of the following:
    • Frequent preoccupation with the behavior or with activity that is preparatory to the behavior
    • Frequent engaging in the behavior to a greater extent or over a longer period than intended
    • Repeated efforts to reduce, control, or stop the behavior
    • A great deal of time spent in activities necessary for the behavior, engaging in the behavior, or recovering from its effects
    • Frequent engaging in the behavior when expected to fulfill occupational, academic, domestic or social obligations
    • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of the behavior
    • Continuation of the behavior despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent social, financial, psychological, or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by the behavior
    • Tolerance: need to increase the intensity or frequency of the behavior in order to achieve the desired effect, or diminished effect with continued behavior of the same intensity
    • Restlessness or irritability if unable to engage in the behavior
  • Some symptoms of the disturbance have persisted for at least one month, or have occurred repeatedly over a longer period of time

Proposed stages of pornography addiction

Some psychologists and sex therapists (for example Dr.Kimberly Young and Dr.Victor Cline) have suggested the following stages in pornography addiction,[5][6][7]

  1. Discovery — The thrill or arousal associated with the material is encountered during this stage. This can happen accidentally or through curiosity. This stage usually refers to initial exposure rather than exposure over a prolonged period of time. There can be a rush because the event represents entering an area that is taboo, forbidden, or simply sensually arousing.[5]
  2. Experimentation/Exploration — This stage is characterized by various cognitive distortions as the person rationalizes exploring or experimenting with the material: "it's just harmless fun" or "this isn't hurting anyone". Masturbation usually accompanies this stage, powerfully reinforcing the experience.[5][8]
  3. Desensitization — As exploration and experimentation continue, desensitization takes place. In this stage, what was once shocking or atrocious is now considered normal or even mundane, thus setting the stage for escalation.[5][9]
  4. Escalation — During this stage, the material becomes rougher and more explicit, and what Cline considered to be more deviant and "kinky," in order for the person to achieve the same level of arousal or rush.[5][10]
  5. Performance — Frequent exposure to the material may be accompanied by the person wanting to act out sexual behaviours she or he has seen depicted in the pornography. In some cases, she or he may engage in these behaviors with her or his partner, or if married, she or he may seek a partner outside the marriage.[11]

Rory C. Reid and Dan Gray note that these stages need not be sequential and not all individuals experience all stages.[5]

Serial killer Ted Bundy stated that his pornography addiction went through stages. As a boy he reported seeing softcore pornography, and that he later viewed hardcore pornography and violent pornography. Ben Shapiro, in his book "Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future", claimed that this played an influencing role in Bundy's crimes.[12] However, Alexander Barnes Dryer, in his review of the book for The New Republic states that it was difficult to cite just one flaw with the book, as there were so many.[13]

Online pornography addiction

Online pornography addiction involves pornography obtained via the Internet. Psychologists who support this concept argue that it is stronger, and more addictive, than ordinary pornography addiction because of its wide availability, explicit nature, and the privacy that online viewing offers. Some claim that "addicts" regularly spend extended periods of time searching the internet for new or increasingly hardcore pornography.[1]

Use of content control and monitoring

Some clinicians and support organizations recommend using voluntary content control mechanisms (also known as "Internet filters" and "censorware"), internet monitoring, or both as a tool in the treatment of purportedly excessive online pornography use.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

Sex researcher Alvin Cooper and colleagues suggested several reasons for using filters as a therapeutic measure, including curbing accessibility that facilitates problematic behavior and encouraging clients to develop coping and relapse prevention strategies.[14] Cognitive therapist Mary Anne Layden suggested that filters may be useful in maintaining environmental control.[18] Internet behavior researcher David Delmonico noted that, despite their limitations, filters may serve as a "frontline of protection."[15]

Filters that target pornography have been included in computer operating systems such as Linux and are sold as stand-alone applications and devices.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Downs, Martin F.; Louise Chang, MD (reviewer) (August 30, 2005). "Is Pornography Addictive? Psychologists debate whether people can have an addiction to pornography.". WebMD. Retrieved on 2007-03-22. 
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Andert, Stephen; Donald K. Burleson (2005). Web Stalkers. Rampant TechPress. pp. 160–161. 
  4. ^ Goodman, Aviel, 1990. Addiction: Definition and implications. Brit J Psychiatry 85:1403-1408
  5. ^ a b c d e f Rory C. Reid; Dan Gray (2006). "Assessing a Problem: Pornography Questionnaire". Confronting Your Spouse's Pornography Problem. Silverleaf Press. pp. 167–8. ISBN 9781933317434. 
  6. ^ Cline, Dr.Victor B., Treatment and Healing of Sexual and Pornographic Addictions, 
  7. ^ Cline, Dr.Victor B., Pornography's Effects on Adults and Children, 
  8. ^ Cline, Dr.Victor (PDF). Victor Cline, Ph.D. Witness Statement, Commission on Child Online Protection. "In the case of pedophiles; the overwhelming majority, in my clinical experience use child pornography and/or create it to stimulate and whet their sexual appetites which they masturbate to then later use as a model for their own sexual acting out with children.[...]Other related studies by D.R. Evens and B.T. Jackson support his thesis. They found that deviant masturbatory fantasy very significantly effected the habit strength of the subject’s sexual deviation". 
  9. ^ Cline, Dr.Victor B., Pornography's Effects on Adults and Children,, "The sexual activity depicted in the pornography (no matter how anti-social or deviant) became legitimized. There was an increasing sense that "everybody does it" and this gave them permission to also do it, even though the activity was possibly illegal and contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal standards." 
  10. ^ Cline, Dr.Victor B., Pornography's Effects on Adults and Children,, "Being married or in a relationship with a willing sexual partner did not solve their problem. Their addiction and escalation were mainly due to the powerful sexual imagery in their minds, implanted there by the exposure to pornography." 
  11. ^ Cline, Dr.Victor B., Pornography's Effects on Adults and Children,, "... an increasing tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography, including compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with minor children, rape, and inflicting pain on themselves or a partner during sex. This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse, no matter what the negative consequences were in their life." 
  12. ^ Shapiro, Ben (2005). Porn Generation: Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future. Regnery Publishing. pp. 160. ISBN 978-0895260161. 
  13. ^ "Porn Identity:A review by Alexander Barnes Dryer". 30 June 2005. 
  14. ^ a b Cooper, Alvin; Putnam, Dana E., Planchon, Lynn A., & Boies, Sylvain C. (1999). "Online Sexual Compulsivity: Getting Tangled in the Net". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention 6 (2): 79–104. doi:10.1080/10720169908400182. 
  15. ^ a b Delmonico, D.L. (1997). "Cybersex: High Tech Sex Addiction". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention 4 (2): 159–167. doi:10.1080/10720169708400139. 
  16. ^ "AAMFT Consumer Update - Sexual Addiction". American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Retrieved on 2007-06-10. 
  17. ^ Corley, M. Deborah, Ph.D. (Winter 2002). "Cybersex Addiction" (PDF). Paradigm: 12, 22. 
  18. ^ a b Layden, Mary Anne, Ph.D. (September 2005). "Cyber Sex Addiction" (PDF). Advances in Cognitive Therapy: 1–2, 4–5. 
  19. ^ Bissette, David C., Psy.D. (February 2004). "Choosing an Internet Filter" (PDF). Retrieved on 2007-06-10. 
  20. ^ "Recovery Resources". Recovery Path Counselling Services. Retrieved on 2007-06-10. 
  21. ^ " "Evangelicals Are Addicted To Porn".". Retrieved on 2007-06-06. 

Further reading

  • Arterburn, Stephen; Fred Stoeker, (2000). Mike Yorkey. ed. Every Man's Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time. WaterBrook Press. ISBN 9781578563685. 
  • Shapiro, Ben (2005). Porn Generation. Regnery Publishing. pp. 232 pages. ISBN 9780895260161. 

External links


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