Sex Addiction-Porn Addiction ?

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Sex Addiction-Porn Addiction ?

 In general, we can safely state that when behaviour (thoughts and actions) start to negatively affect daily functioning and relationships, there is a problem and it will need attention before it gets better. Based on this assumption, one could ask whether it matters what a behaviour is called, if it is harmful to self and others, it will require attention…but it is important to be cautious when using the word “addiction” associated with sex and porn.

The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counsellors and Therapists (AASECT) placed the following statement on their website:

AASECT 1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge. Therefore, it is the position of AASECT that linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.

https://www.aasect.org/position-sex-addiction

Sex addiction and porn addiction is often used interchangeably, but those who perceive themselves to have a sex addiction often describe using porn frequently in addition to other behaviours that involve actual sexual partners either in-person or on the Internet.

Based on the comment of AASECT, it might be more practical to use the term Hypersexual Behaviour. Hypersexual behaviour does not necessarily result in problems and therefore it is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) as a disorder. Many do not perceive their behaviour as problematic and enjoy having a high sex drive.

Those who come forward do perceive the behaviour as problematic and often state to experience shame and guilt. We have to be aware that what has been historically seen as paraphilia (and disordered behaviour) might be seen as perfectly acceptable in current times. Of course, cultural differences also play a role in what is seen either as excessive and abnormal or as an accepted preference.

The potential negatives of excessive porn use:

  1. Those who frequently use porn without a partner might find difficulties in reaching satisfying sexual pleasure and orgasm with a real-life partner.
  2. Porn has negative side effects on some people (who use it to compensate for a lack of offline sexual intimacy).
  3. More recent research shows an increase in Erectile Dysfunction in men under 40, and a correlation to frequent porn use.
  4. In particular men view porn when alone rather than with a partner. If this behaviour is kept secret from a partner, it results in a disconnect.
  5. Those who watch porn during work hours are aware that the behaviour has become problematic as it is interfering with daily life.

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Different types of porn often referred to as “erotica” however, can educate people, enhance sex life or be perceived as harmless and enjoyable (Weir, 2014).

There is a lack of research evidence to demonstrate that porn addiction is an addiction with similar characteristics to chemical addictions. The findings of recently conducted research is contradictory. (e.g. see Prause, & Ley and Voon and colleagues).

Others favour to refer to problems associated with frequent porn use as “compulsive behaviours”.

Compulsions are behaviours that result from obsessive thinking about a certain topic. The behaviour provides a temporarily relief from obsessive thinking.

A habit is a behaviour that is routinely repeated to such an extent that it becomes automatic. Habits are different from compulsions in the sense that they are not caused by obsessive thinking. Bad habits can be replaced by behaviours that are healthier. Obsessive thinking leading to compulsive behaviours can be treated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

The reason why we have to be cautious when labeling behaviours as “sex addiction” and “porn addiction” is not only because research findings are inconclusive. It is related to what treatment works best for the individual who is seeking help. An individual who struggles with connecting with others socially, may compensate a lack of intimacy with porn. This person benefits from guidance on how to connect with others. If social anxiety is the issue, counselling can help.

Porn use may result in couple issues, and therefore counselling can help. It may be that one partner uses porn due to having a partner with a lower libido. If the partner feels insecure and is uncomfortable about porn use, other options to increase sexual satisfaction can be explored.

Others have a non-heterosexual orientation and have religious values that are in conflict with their desires.

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By placing all of the above-mentioned issues under the heading “sex addiction” and treating the behaviours similar to alcoholism and drug abuse by promoting abstinence, many will not get the treatment they deserve and may even be harmed by it.

Also see Physical Intimacy and What is Helpful After a Relationship Break-down?

References

Prause, N. & Ley, D. (2014). The emperor has no clothes: A review of the ‘pornography addiction’ model. ResearchGate. Available at http://www.researchgate.net/publication/258565076

Voon, V., Mole, T., Banca, P., et al. (2014).  Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours. Available at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0102419

Weir, K (2014). Is pornography addictive? American Psychological Association. Available at www.apa.org.monitor.2014/04/pornography.aspx.

OTHER ARTICLES of interest:

1. Williams, D.J. (2017). The framing of frequent sexual behaviour and/or pornography viewing as addiction: Some concerns for social work. Journal of Social Work, 17(5) 616-623

2. Ley, D. J. (2018). The pseudoscience behind public health crisis legislation. Porn Studies 2018.

Images: Pixabay

 

2 thoughts on “Sex Addiction-Porn Addiction ?

  1. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been struggling with helping a client deal with sex addiction for some time. I’ve formulated his case under compulsivity, but he’s been resistant to viewing it as such, preferring the term addiction, instead, due to his desire to externalize his behavior.

    Like

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