Porn Addiction

What Is "Porn Addiction"?

Pornography use is a widespread means of dealing with sexual drives. Approximately 90 percent of young men report watching porn videos with some regularity, particularly in the United States. Many of these depict acts that they might never engage in themselves but that they can access online—in other words, erotic fantasies. Pornhub, the world’s largest porn website, reports that in 2016, 92 billion videos were viewed by 64 million visitors daily (26 percent of them female), each spending nearly 10 minutes on the site. Although viewing erotica is ubiquitous among males, some men and women regard watching internet porn as pathological and believe that any time spent doing so indicates “porn addiction.”

There is no question that porn use can create distress for individuals or couples, particularly when one partner views it in secret, and the other sees it as a betrayal of fidelity or a depiction of unacceptable acts. Because problems arising from porn viewing mostly reflect pre-existing attitudes about sex, researchers generally reject the notion of “porn addiction.” They also reject treatment approaches based on addiction. Instead, most recommend approaches that help individuals understand the conflicts between their own sexual desires and the views of the moral or religious society around them. Among couples, conjoint counseling can help partners understand each other’s sexual interests and negotiate what is and is not acceptable in their relationship.

Porn Use, Guilt, and Shame

Studies show that so-called porn addiction is closely tied to guilt and shame. These negative feelings often stem from moral or religious beliefs about porn use in general or one’s sexual interests, rather than the amount of time spent viewing porn or one’s perceived lack of self-control. Although porn users are more likely to be male, women also view pornography to a degree. Some partners may find porn use extreme and unacceptable, causing them to label that behavior as “porn addiction.” However, experts find that couples’ arguments about porn are frequently driven by other underlying sexual issues that need to be addressed. 

CONNECTED TOPICS

Sex, Sex Addiction, Guilt

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