Pornography: Is it an addiction?

 
Wikipedia: Pornography addiction
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pornography_addiction
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 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and as with the broader proposed diagnosis of sexual addiction, there is debate as to whether or not the behaviors indicate a behavioral addiction.

Is Pornography Addictive? – April 30, 2007
http://men.webmd.com/guide/is-pornography-addictive4
Weston is one who takes issue with calling problem behavior involving porn an addiction. "’Compulsive’ is more appropriate," she tells WebMD.

Erick Janssen, PhD, a researcher at the Kinsey Institute, criticizes the use of the term addiction when talking about porn because he says it merely describes certain people’s behavior as being addiction-like, but treating them as addicts may not help them.

Mary Anne Layden, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the witnesses at the Senate hearing on pornography addiction. She says the same criteria used to diagnose problems like pathological gambling and substance abuse can be applied to problematic porn use.

One of the key features of addiction, she says, is the development of a tolerance to the addictive substance. In the way that drug addicts need increasingly larger doses to get high, she thinks porn addicts need to see more and more extreme material to feel the same level of excitement they first experienced.

"Most of the addicts will say, well, here’s the stuff I would never look at, it’s so disgusting I would never look at it, whatever that is — sex with kids, sex with animals, sex involving feces," she says. "At some point they often cross over."

Janssen disputes that people who look at porn typically progress in such a way. "There is absolutely no evidence to support that," he tells WebMD.

Independent of the role it plays in relationships, people also look at pornography just to arouse themselves before or while masturbating.

"I think of porn addiction as a label that’s used to put down behavior that’s disapproved of socially," Violet Blue, a sex educator and author of The Ultimate Guide to Adult Videos, tells WebMD. "A lot of it is shaming masturbation."

Why There’s No Such Thing as Sexual Addiction — And Why It Really Matters
Dr. Marty Klein – March 1998
http://www.sexed.org/archive/article08.html
If convicted mass murderer Ted Bundy had said that watching Bill Cosby reruns motivated his awful crimes, he would have been dismissed as a deranged sociopath. Instead, Bundy has said his pornography addiction made him do it–which many people treated as the conclusion of a thoughtful social scientist. Why?

Pornified by Pamela Paul
In a Washington Post articlePamela Paul, journalist and author of a book Pornified wrote the following:
Back in 1979, Jennings Bryant, a professor of communications at the University of Alabama, conducted one of the most powerful peer-reviewed lab studies of the effects of porn viewing on men. Summary of results: not good. Men who consumed large amounts of pornography were less likely to want daughters, less likely to support women’s equality and more forgiving of criminal rape. They also grossly overestimated Americans’ likelihood to engage in group sex and bestiality.

I look at the statement "men who consumed large amounts of pornography" and wonder what anybody would say if I replaced the word pornography with the word alcohol. "Men who consumed large amounts of alcohol…" Shall we bring back prohibition? Large amounts of anything isn’t normal.

The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Based on Pamela Paul’s expertise as the author of Pornified, she testified before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on November 10, 2005 and said:

To find out the private stories that people suspect but never hear; experience, but never talk about, I interviewed more than 100 people (approximately 80 percent male), all heterosexual, about the role pornography plays in their lives. While the scope of such qualitative research can never claim to be fully representative of all Americans, the people interviewed were expressly chosen to provide a broad spectrum.

Countless men described how, while using porn, they have lost the ability to relate or be close to women. They have trouble being turned on by "real" women, and their sex lives with their girlfriends or wives collapse. These are men who seem like regular guys, but spend hours each week with porn – usually online. And many of them admit they have trouble cutting down their use. They also find themselves seeking out harder and harder pornography.

One 24-year-old woman from Baltimore confided…

A 38-year-old woman from a Chicago suburb described…

100 people, countless men, one 24-year old woman, a 38 year-old woman; there seems to be anecdotal accounts of the worst of the worse. This doesn’t strike me as scientific or statistically significant. When Shere Hite did her studies of the sexuality of men and women, she sampled 5,000 people. 100 people interviewed out of a population in the U.S. of 300 million? 6.8 billion in the world?

Review of Pornified
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/books/review/11sohn.html
Pamela Paul, a journalist and the author of ”The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony,” denounces this sea change, lamenting that we’ve become inured to porn’s negative effects on American men, women and children. Her biggest gripe is with the Internet pornography boom of the past decade, which she believes is creating sex addicts and splintering families. Unfortunately, though it has surely affected many people, Paul fails to prove a national trend, turning what might have been a provocative study into a diatribe. 

The book’s biggest shortcoming is Paul’s one-sided examination of the effect of porn on women. Most of her female subjects are married to men who became addicted to porn, and they have a right to be angry. But the few pro-porn female subjects she profiles are portrayed as deeply damaged ”people pleasers.” Paul never gives credence to the many women who enjoy consuming porn, alone or with partners.

Rather than explore why many young women are using porn to enhance their sex lives, Paul lashes out at pro-porn feminists, who she says write off anti-porn feminists as intolerant and bigoted. ”Naturally, this accusation of intolerance applies only to those who oppose pornography, not those who perpetuate it.” Perhaps investigating why some women like porn might have muddied the waters of her alarmist thesis. 

Watching pornography changes your brain chemistry.
Porn Causes Brain Damage by Rebecca Goldin Ph.D – April 04, 2006
http://stats.org/stories/porn_causes_brain_damage_apr04_06.htm
Society without statistics is all in the eye of the beholder. Ask a divorce lawyer, and divorce is always a messy affair. Call people at home, and you’ll find that no one works 60 hours a week. Ask a shrink who treats porn addicts about the effect of pornography, and she’ll respond that they are disastrous.

This is exactly what ABC did in their recent, favorable coverage of anti-porn activists and their campaign to limit adult pornography. In one of the most biased pieces on pornography we’ve seen by the mainstream media, ABC says that some activists are “raising funds for high-tech brain research that they hope will fuel lawsuits against porn magnates”, and then quotes one activist who says “we’ll demonstrate in the not-too-distant future the actual physical harm that pornography causes”. They leave this scientific question dangling before the reader, as an assured reality that a link will be found given funding for the high-tech research. The main expert quoted to support the view that “you’re damaging your brain” by consuming porn is… (drum roll) an auto executive.

Without ado, the article moves on to the social consequences of porn. By talking to a porn addiction expert, they find “many of her patients, rather than improving their sex lives with porn, suffer sexual dysfunction.” And from an expert on internet behavior, we have the “estimate” that “up to ten percent” porn viewers stop having sex with their wives – but where he got ten percent, and how this compares to how much non-porn watching men have sex with their wives is anybody’s guess. Divorce lawyers claim that an increasing percentage of their clients are divorcing over pornography. Need it be say that these lawyers are seeing a skewed sample of porn viewers?

The Financial Times also came out with its own porn exposé (Not tonight darling, I’m online, Weekend Magazine, April 1). The FT headline reads that porn is as “addictive as crack cocaine”. Without belaboring a rather controversial statement, the FT also jumps into the anti-porn industry to lay the foundation for its anti-porn rhetoric: quotes from experts who treat porn addiction, and stories from men who suffer the addiction. Again, a biased sample of porn users.

The FT uses numbers – such as the fact that 70 percent of young men visit porn sites every month – but badly. If the article is about “addicts”, then the number of users is irrelevant, the same way that the number of people who have a glass of wine in the evening tells us nothing about how many alcoholics there are.

The FT also cited the U.S. Senate testimony of Dr Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s sexual trauma and psychopathology program, who said that "even non sex-addicts will show brain reactions on PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans while viewing pornography similar to cocaine addicts looking at images of cocaine."

But if anything, the fact that non sex-addicts have this reaction to porn suggests that these brain images are not good biomarkers of addiction to it(regardless of whether it does a better job in measuring cocaine addiction). Also, the comparison to cocaine is not as good as a comparison to “non-pornographic” sex, whatever that may be; for the fact that sex lights up the dopamine system may be simply Nature’s way of making sure we reproduce.

A serious report on a contentious issue needs real science and social science. News outlets should stop alluding to science with no basis, and stop asking porn therapists about porn addiction.

Is Pornography Addictive? – April 30, 2007
http://men.webmd.com/guide/is-pornography-addictive4
Mary Anne Layden, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was one of the witnesses at the Senate hearing on pornography addiction. She says the same criteria used to diagnose problems like pathological gambling and substance abuse can be applied to problematic porn use.

One of the key features of addiction, she says, is the development of a tolerance to the addictive substance. In the way that drug addicts need increasingly larger doses to get high, she thinks porn addicts need to see more and more extreme material to feel the same level of excitement they first experienced.

"Most of the addicts will say, well, here’s the stuff I would never look at, it’s so disgusting I would never look at it, whatever that is — sex with kids, sex with animals, sex involving feces," she says. "At some point they often cross over."

[Erick Janssen, PhD, a researcher at the Kinsey Institute] disputes that people who look at porn typically progress in such a way. "There is absolutely no evidence to support that," he tells WebMD.

Study shows porn doesn’t cause abnormal behaviour
A study at the University of Montreal recruited 20 men to examine their sexual history, their use of pornography and how this affected their perceptions of women and relations.

CNET: New research suggests porn is overly demonized – Dec 1/2009
http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-10407102-247.html

The results of the study were
It did not affect their perception of women or alter their relationships with woman.

  • All men expressed a desire for normal relations and normal sex.
  • All men supported gender equality.
  • All men when encountering something in the porn they did not like such as violence or group sex would fast forward to skip those parts.
  • Watching pornography did not affect what the men watched. In other words, their sexual preferences were already formed; they sought in porn what they already liked.
The researcher said that all men remained normal and wanted to have healthy relations with women. Their fantasies were fantasies. If anything, something in a film may give them an idea to try out but if this turned out to be unacceptable to their partner, they would drop the idea. All of them said they did not want their partner to be a "porno star".

Patrick Carnes, Pine Grove Behavioral Center
This is the centre where Tiger Woods went in January 2010.

Wikipedia: Patrick Carnes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Carnes
Patrick Carnes, PhD, is an expert in the field of sexual addiction in the United States. Carnes is currently the Executive Director of the Gentle Path program at Pine Grove Behavioral Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Why There’s No Such Thing as Sexual Addiction — And Why It Really Matters: Part 2
By Dr. Marty Klein June 16, 2009
http://www.empowher.com/sexual-well-being/content/why-theres-no-such-thing-sexual-addiction-and-why-it-really-matters-part-
… section on comments …

Dr. Klein,

Thank you for this article. I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Patrick Carnes on a professional level. Although he truly believes his theories (as do many of his followers), I believe strongly that his theories are more of a justification for his own past behaviors. He is also a "sex addict" and has a very sordid history. He continues to struggle with compulsivity issues in other areas, and the business of training sex addiction therapists that he has created only goes to feed his own impulses.
Many of the therapists trained by Dr. Carnes have similar issues, although some do not. I only hope that they wake up and see that they are being led by the blind.

Addicted to love? By Brian Alexander, msnbc.com contributor – Nov 8/2007
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21646830/
Hello. My name is Brian and I am a sex addict. 

It never occurred to me that I might be addicted to love. But then Marty Klein, a sex therapist in Palo Alto, Calif., and author of the book "America’s War on Sex," asked me to take a Web screening test created by Patrick Carnes, the best-known popularizer of the "sex addict" idea.

…here is what I was told: "We have compared your answers with people who have been diagnosed with sex addiction. Your answers HAVE MET a score on [the] basis of six [of] the criteria that indicate sex addiction is present."

Don’t feel bad, Klein told me. He often asks professional audiences to take the same test and a lot of them come up sex addicts, too, which may say something about therapists, but more, perhaps, about the test.

Hugh Hefner: Sex Rehab is a "Cop Out" for Adultery – April 15, 2010
http://www.hollyscoop.com/hugh-hefner/hugh-hefner-sex-rehab-is-a-cop-out-for-adultery_23607.aspx
Accordin to this interview, Hefner doesn’t own a computer and so doesn’t surf the Internet. He doesn’t know anything about online porn.
Somewhere between Tiger Woods and Jesse James, sex addiction rehab became a new trend. But Hef’s not buying it!

He believes cheating stars like Tiger and Jesse are using the condition as a “cop out” excuse for adultery.

He said: “I think by and large it’s a cop out. I think ‘sex addiction’ is a convenient phrase for what is really an obsession. Sex is not like a drug or alcohol. It doesn’t affect the physicality in the same way. But it can become very obsessive. Neurotic people can do very foolish things. People make choices. Most people who cheat do it because they think they can get away with it.”

He added to AskMen.com: “I think the most important component of a relationship is honesty and paying attention to the person – what your mate has in mind and what they really want and need. You have to find ways to make it fresh."

Final Word

Are there people who have problems? Obviously. However there seems to be a lack of clinical study which would clearly indicate that the problem lies in pornography itself or in the individuals who seem to be suffering from some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder. Is the problem in the alcohol itself or in the individual who can’t stop drinking?

Click HERE to read more from William Belle

References

my blog: My series on pornography

Erick Janssen
http://www.iub.edu/~kinsey/about/janssen.html
Associate Scientist
Director of Education & Research Training
The Kinsey Institute
Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Program in Cognitive Science

Morrison Hall 313
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

Ph.D., Universiteit van Amsterdam (The Netherlands), 1995
M.A., Universiteit van Amsterdam, 1988

Mary Anne Layden, Ph. D.
http://www.pennmedicine.org/Wagform/MainPage.aspx?config=provider&P=PP&ID=1336
Clinical Psychologist
Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Statistical Assessment Service
http://stats.org/about.htm
Since its founding in 1994, the non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service – STATS – has become a much-valued resource on the use and abuse of science and statistics in the media. Our goals are to correct scientific misinformation in the media and in public policy resulting from bad science, politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge; and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on major scientific issues and controversies.

Rebecca Goldin, Ph.D.
http://stats.org/about_staff.htm
Rebecca Goldin, Director of Research, holds a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Mathematics, and a B.A., cum laude from Harvard University. Dr. Goldin did postdoctoral work at University of Maryland before she joined George Mason University, where she is currently an associate professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences. She is a member of the Science Policy Committee of the American Mathematical Society and, in 2008, was invited to join the advisory board of Math for America: DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving math education in secondary public schools in the U.S.

She has published numerous research articles in internationally recognized mathematics journals, and regularly speaks at conferences across North America, Europe and Asia. She is the recipient of several awards from the National Science Foundation to support her research in mathematics and education. In 2007 she received the Ruth I. Michler Memorial Prize from the Associaton of Women in Mathematics and spent the fall semester of 2007 at Cornell University on a fellowship. In 2008, Dr. Goldin was one of the winners of George Mason’s Emerging Scholar Awards, which recognizes excellence in academic achievement.

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