Many people have looked at pornography. It’s a subject that few like to talk about, but many observe in private. It’s been a staple of the Internet since its’ inceptions. Because of its taboo nature, discussing and studying porn is frowned upon. But we believe that it’s worth discussing, especially in the context of mental health. You can find articles about pornography, from facts and statistics to articles about porn addiction. Is porn really addictive as some say it is? If so, how does one treat the addiction?
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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
The Negative Effects of Pornography
Today, much of the internet’s traffic comes from porn sites. There’s a good chance that almost everyone you know looks at it or has looked at it. Even those who claim to be against porn, have probably viewed pictures or videos in private.
We’re not here to tell you whether or not looking at porn is morally wrong or not. As long as you're looking at porn between consenting adults, it’s up to your personal beliefs. However, there is such a thing as too much porn, and the subject of porn addiction comes up often. Porn is chemically addictive like a drug. Your brain releases dopamine when it sees sexual acts. Dopamine is considered to be the “reward” chemical in your brain. With a little effort, you can achieve a big reward, which is what makes it addictive.
Someone who has a porn addiction may feel withdrawn from the world and become desensitized. They may spend hours every day trying to find something to get off with.
The Problems with Pornography
Porn can be seen as problematic, especially when looking at mental health. Some of the negative aspects of porn that you read about include the following:
- Troubles in marriage or relationships.
- An unreasonable expectation of sex. This is especially true of a younger person who has never had sex but has looked at porn. Sex with a partner is not as one-sided as porn is. While porn promotes self pleasure, consensual sex requires both giving and receiving. People may develop unreasonable expectations of their partner.
- A dopamine rush. When you watch porn and have an orgasm, your brain releases dopamine and you end up chasing that rush again and again. This is the perfect storm for addiction.
- While it is a rare occurrence, someone may become quickly desensitized and look for more extreme porn to stimulate themselves. They may even go into an illegal territory.
We are not anti-pornography, but we do realize its risks. Someone who is watching too much porn may need the help of a counselor or therapist. It could be a sign of depression, low confidence in their sexual abilities, or another reason. If it’s affecting your life, then you may want to speak to a professional and see if there is anything you can do about it.
Pornography and Marriage
Porn and marriage is a controversial subject. Some people will say that looking at pornography while married is cheating. Others may believe that it’s problematic, but it’s not cheating.
There are some couples who enjoy porn together. They may see porn as a way to spice up a marriage and get in the mood for sexual intimacy. However, other couples may feel like the spouse cares more about the porn star. This may lead to jealousy. While the partner watching porn will probably never meet this porn star, the jealous spouse may believe that they are no longer attractive, and this can create a rift in the marriage.
Sometimes, watching porn in a marriage can be both a cause and a symptom. Watching pornography can lead to fights and having less sex, thus causing the need for a partner to retreat onto the web even more. Again, not every couple thinks watching porn is taboo, but some do. If you or your partner have mixed feelings about pornography, you may need to seek the help of a counselor or a therapist to help resolve your differences.
Porn addiction is an interesting subject. Many sites that campaign against porn addiction seem to be backed by religious organizations, or are backed by other groups that have a bias against porn.
In the world of the APA, porn addiction is not yet a diagnosis. There is no diagnostic criteria that a psychiatrist can follow to determine if a person has a porn addiction, or if they just really like porn.
One reason why porn addiction hasn’t been studied yet is because of two things. One, we have a societal taboo towards pornography, even though our society seems to be shifting away from that. Two, porn hasn’t been this easily accessed until relatively recently.
It used to be that you would have to buy a magazine or a video at a store. Binging on porn and possibly getting addicted to it was harder to do as a result. Now, it’s so easy for anyone to look at porn. You just go to a website and viola. Tons of porn, easily streamable. Most sites don’t have any gatekeeping, either. Someone underage can easily claim they’re of age with the click of the button.
Some may say that porn is more of a compulsion than an addiction, or the sign of internet addiction in general.
It’s hard to say, and we don’t judge if you like porn. However, if porn usage gets to be too much, you may want to seek the help of a professional who can assist you.
Our articles will teach you about addiction, so you can beat it in your tracks, and from there, move forward to a better life, where you’re not controlled by this aspect of yourself.