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The Science Of Porn

by Craig Gross on May 26th, 2015 in The Haps

the science of porn blogpost One of the common things that gets debated when it comes to pornography use is its “addictive” nature.

Is porn really addictive in the clinical sense of the word?

Does porn really damage or change the user’s brain or is that a claim of weak science?

Admittedly the scientific data on porn or sex addiction is still very new so it seems reasonable that there is no solid clinical answer on this matter of of yet.

However, the American Society of Addiction Medicine characterizes addiction the following way:

1) The inability to consistently abstain

2) Impairment in behavioral control

3) Craving for [substances] or rewarding experiences

4) Reduced recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships; and

5) A dysfunctional emotional response

 Here’s my take on this.

We have talked to thousands of people about this and these “characteristics” are generally present in most if not all cases.

You may want to argue about the technicalities but I’d say the evidence is pretty compelling; porn is not only addictive but it kills.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Sergio de la Cruz

    Nice article.

  • Peter

    This is good food for thought. Check out a book by a professor/mentor of mine, Kent Dunnington, called “Addiction and Virtue.” It gets to some of these ideas. He talks about the space between “addiction as choice” and “addiction as disease.”

    • Chris

      Hey Peter:
      Good comment. I’ve read The Porn Trap by Wendy Maltz – it’s a REALLY interesting book. I’ve heard the word “disease” being tossed around a lot over the years regarding addictions. In my opinion, to me, it seems debatable on whether or not it’s a “disease”. To me, addictions are something that just simply manifest silently w/o even someone realizing what’s going on and you try to stop the behaivor and can’t muster the volition to do it on your own – it’s a simple as that. As you probably already know, the genesis of many addictions start with an inability to cope with negative emotions and a person “finds a way” to cope with these negative emotions whether it be frustration from working to much, being unemployed, bills to pay or whatever – for some it’s alcohol, drugs, food, sex and now we have porn which has slowly developed into a “crutch” for many men (and women). It sucks because it’s difficult to get out of the proverbial trap. I’ve done an immense amount of reading about this whole “porn addiction” thing because I find it utterly fascinating.
      I think this website pretty cool, but I’m not religious. And, I’ve struggled with porn. I think it’s great that we’re opening up about this as a society. I watched a video recently about some NFL players who struggled with porn. They make a millions of dollars…..why would they have a problem with porn? As aforementioned, it sneaks up on anybody – slowly – and unbeknownst to you and then it’s too late, but there is HOPE.

      • Peter

        Thanks for the reply. I like your thoughts, but I’m not sure your critique of of addiction as disease is supported by the literature. I think there are nuances because the nascence of pathological addiction begin with choices that are, presumably, relatively free. Even if someone has a predisposition to, say, alcoholism (which is pretty well regarded as fact), they typically choose whether or not to drink. The difficulty comes in the throes of addiction. Will power is frequently not enough to overcome the addiction – there are numerous reports of addicts who described themselves pouring drinks or taking hits literally as they tried not to. I think that’s why a paradigm of addiction that utilizes Aristotelian ideas of virtue can help break the dichotomy we try to make between “disease” and “choice.” It’s not a matter of “mustering,” I don’t think, which is why your average religious approach to addiction (one which implores the subject to “stop sinning”) is inadequate and unhelpful. Our choices have inertia; once they take us to a certain distance, we begin to lose our volition.
        Just some food for thought there. I appreciate your feedback/thoughts. Good luck!

        • Chris

          Wow! Nice reply! Thank you. Personally, my interest in porn started in college. I went to a maritime academy with mostly men. I would look at porn in between breaks while working on homework (while my roomate was away) For awhile, I never thought twice about viewing porn, but something always lingered in the back of my head – “This just ain’t right…..these women are real, they have feelings and I’m using them for my sexual gratification.”
          I admitted my struggle to my sister and brother-in-law about a year ago and they were shocked, but completely understood because we went out for some drinks about 2 weeks later and my sister said, “Well, I completely understand why you were lookin’ at that stuff……it makes sense now, but I feel bad for you because you’re such nice a person and you deserve so much better.” (For so many years, I never saw it that way.)
          After looking at porn for awhile, it changed me. I became more of a hypocrite about the way people looked. Porn, “in a sense” reaffirmed the notion that it doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, how tall you are, etc. Porn told me that the only thing that matters is how sexy a woman is and this notion is BAD……REALLY BAD. I’m constantly upset with myself that I succumbed to this lie. But, I think porn is symptom of our society and the way we are. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, who starred in Don Jon shares similar thoughts about this. Glad he has spoken openly about porn in our society. To me, porn is just another part of our materialistic world – got to have the nice car, the trophy wife, etc. To me, porn is the fuel that only makes the fire worse.

  • Tom

    Interesting graphics, but chock full of typos! Why would some group that spent so much time developing these pretty graphics be so sloppy?

  • Ahmed Abututa

    Seeking professional help is one of suggested actions above. Where can I find this help?

    • albibird

      Not here. Xxxchurch does offer some programs, but they are more ‘amateur help.’ If you are viewing pornography to the detriment of your life in general, you might want to find a real, qualified psychiatrist. Or you could try the xxxchurch programs – I don’t know if constantly praying for divine intervention and ritual shaming sessions will actually work, but I can’t see it doing any harm either.

  • albibird

    The ASAM do not recognise pornography addiction as a specific affliction, but they do recognize ‘behavioral addictions’ as a general class. Compulsive viewing of pornography would be considered a form of behavioral addiction. The psychology involved is much the same as someone who can’t stop watching television, gambling, overeating, or playing computer games.

    The AFA – the authority on all things psychological – have considered including behavioral addiction in the DSM, but currently do not do so due to a lack of research in the area.

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