When Porn Becomes a Problem

In this internet age, porn is freely available, anywhere, anytime.

when porn becomes a problem

Which means that it can become a very real problem for more and more people, as they may become addicted.

Addiction: When Porn Becomes a Problem

A good working definition of any type of sexual addiction, including addiction to porn, is: “any persistent and escalating unhealthy pattern of sexual behaviour. It is compulsive in nature, and used to avoid or change feelings despite destructive consequences to self and others.”  

Here are eight signs that can reveal when porn has become a problem, or addiction:

1 – It is unmanageable.  The first step to recovery is admitting one has a problem and is powerless over it – that the addict’s life has become unmanageable.

2 – It creates a neurochemical tolerance. Viewing pornography triggers several neurochemical reactions in the brain, producing a “high”, which is intensified with an orgasm. This neurochemical high is also experienced when using drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. As with any other drug, a tolerance soon develops; more is needed to get the same effect. Thus, the person with the porn addiction will spend increasing amounts of time online viewing pornography, and the type of pornography will become more extreme.

3 – It is degenerative and progressive. Over time the addiction gets worse. As tolerance and dependence grow, the need for pornography grows. Instead of relying on the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Issue or the Victoria’s Secret Catalogue, the addict now needs to view more deviant, hardcore pornography that is often violent and can even be illegal. Instead of spending a few minutes a week viewing pornography, the addict may now be viewing it for several hours every day. Ultimately the pursuit and use of pornography consumes the addict’s life.

4 – It has negative, destructive consequences. Addiction to porn can affect mind, body, and soul. Physical consequences can include loss of sleep, stress, fatigue, and even physical injury if the addict engages in sexual acts that are sadomasochistic. If the addict is acting it out with other people, there is a risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or unplanned pregnancy.

The emotional consequences of pornography addiction include isolation, loneliness, fear, guilt, shame, anger, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Many addicts experience the loss of their marriage, family, friends and careers.

The financial consequences can also be great, as huge amounts of debt can be amassed from purchasing porn and any related sexual activity.

5 – It is used to escape negative feelings. Here is where we most often use the term “self-medicating.” Addicts often use pornography as a coping strategy to deal with deep emotional pain. Often they don’t even realise the pain is there. All they know is pornography makes them feel good, and they are compelled to go back to it repeatedly. The fact that they cannot feel good without pornography indicates a deep emotional wound that they are using pornography to anaesthetize.

6 – It is justified by the concept of “entitlement.” Many people who use pornography do so out of a sense of entitlement, which often stems from narcissism or anger. Narcissism is a great problem in our society today; people often focus on their own wants and needs with little regard to how their actions affect others. Thus, the man who had a rough day at work might come home and feel entitled to view porn to relax, despite how it may hurt his wife.

Addicts may also feel entitled to use pornography out of anger. Whether angry with spouse, boss, or friends, the addict may feel entitled to view porn to “cool off.”

7 – It is used as a reward. Pornography addicts also justify their pornography use by viewing it as a reward. Whether they have been working hard in their career or around the house, they justify their pornography use as a reward for “a job well done.”

8 – It provides a feeling of power. Like all addicts, pornography addicts often feel they have little control in life. Using pornography gives them a sense of power; however, this is a false sense of power, and one that is short-lived.

If you feel that porn has become in your life or your relationship, a visit to a psychologist experienced in providing sex therapy and/or couples counselling can help. In the safety of the counselling room, and with psychological support, you and/or your partner will be able to work through the issues that caused porn to become a problem in the first place, as well as overcome the addiction.

Dr David Wells Clinical PsychologistAuthor: Dr David Wells, B Psych (Hons), Dip Prof Couns, D Psych (Clin Geropsychology).

David is a Clinical Psychologist, with a keen interest in couples counselling. He strives to provide a safe environment for his clients to explore their issues and, with assistance, develop new techniques which will help them change their unproductive behaviours. The aim is to have a happier life that assists people to reach their relationship, personal and life goals.

To make an appointment with Dr David Wells Psychologist, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call Vision Psychology on (07) 3088 5422.