The Internet has enabled pornography addiction to not only proliferate but reach and ensnare younger boys in its trap. Boys as young as ten are being treated for pornography addiction as well as grown and famous men like Terry Crews, David Duchovny, John Mayer, Chris Rock, Charlie Sheen, Kanye West and Tiger Woods – all have admitted and/or been treated for pornography addiction. It’s an easy drift net to be caught up in and a difficult cycle to get out of in an increasingly sexualized, and wired society.
Men often use porn because they are confused by and about sex, looking for an easy or exciting release, and porn only exacerbates the confusion. With sexual drive ruling their adolescence, and the reward centres in their brains wired for reward stimulation and dopamine release, they are aroused, excited and curious from before their teens. Social conditioning and shame prevent them from talking about their feelings and experiences due to fears of being humiliated or worse.
Pornography Affords Some Release
When images and videos prove evocative, boys will harbour the images physically and psychologically. They are not prepared to assess the images, categorize the effects or manage the role they play. If the images lead to masturbation, there’s a two-pronged result: The pleasure of the release and the shame of the intimacy.
As they mature physically, many adolescent males confuse sexual aspiration with sexual reality. By viewing images filled with prominently-endowed participants, they risk disappointment in their own experience for which they find some compensation in pornography.
Even healthy, mature men confuse sex for personal pleasure with sex as an expression of love for a partner. Couples Coach, Dr. Mark Goulston notes, “Many husbands feel guilty about having sex just for sex’s sake with their wives, because they feel like they are using her as a thing (as opposed to making love to the person they care about).” In small or moderate exposure, pornography becomes a channel for a release of the tension of this inner conflict.
Pornography Addiction Is An Addiction
Consumed in excess, pornography reduces the value of live sexual partners who cannot compare with the looks or skills of onscreen performers. This can, in turn, lead to more exposure. Observers become inured to the experience and find they must increase their stimulation in frequency and extremes.
David Ludden, Ph.D. explained in Psychology Today that the repeated exposure “encourages men to seek out dangerous or socially unacceptable sexual acts. Conversely, it leads to sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction and low libido.”
Addictions of all sorts feed on themselves. They may be born of the problem itself including: Alcohol, drugs, pornography and so on. However, they may also start and continue in a context of family issues, inherited physical, biochemical, and neurological predisposition and/or early childhood experiences.
Achieving Healthy Sexuality in a Sexualized Society
Pornography addiction has practical costs. The avid pursuit of stimulation takes time and money, and if you are using your work or family time to view porn, the cost can be high.
This addiction, strangely enough, may reduce interest in real sex. The simulated sex reduces a man’s self-esteem and image of his partner leading to less interaction and disinterest. Yet, pornography, like other addictions, creates a inescapable loop which leaves men wanting more stimulation to the point where they’re often unable to stop.
Treating pornography addiction, as with any addiction, must start with an admission of the problem. It’s also important to note this is a new addiction relative to alcohol and drugs, so there’s less medical experience in therapeutic response. In fact, it is not even listed as a hyper-sexual disorder in the most recent edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Nonetheless, a professional psychologist, psychiatrist or trained sexual issues counsellor may be a necessary guide to recovery. Going cold turkey is possible for some, however, the compulsion to view porn will become part of how men feel about themselves with relation to sex and other personal terms. As a result, addicted men would typically be best served by a professional who can use the most proven and effective treatment methods.
It may take time to build a trusting relationship considering the sense of shame and guilt involved. But, having established a comfortable rapport, the professional will usually pursue a path of cognitive behavioural therapy and support to help a man deal with temptations.
Addiction behaviour among single men may call for the resolution of individual issues with cultural and religious views on sex and sexuality. In treating partnered patients, therapists will also recommend avoidance tactics such as exercise, support groups and couples counselling.
Pornography addiction is not a victimless problem. It can cause serious social and relationship problems and it is best treated when acknowledged early.