Defining Pornography Addiction
Pornography (porn) addiction is a behavioral disorder characterized by a compulsive and repeated use of pornographic material that hinders a person’s day to day activities. It is a documented medical condition and is accompanied by an excessive use of pornography, leading to negative effects on a person’s social, personal, and professional life. Currently there is no “Defined” diagnosis of pornographic addiction as per the current DSM manual.
Individuals tend to report depression and social alleviation due to excessive time, money, resources and effort spent on pornography. In extreme cases of pornographic addiction, the patients are unable to get off pornographic content in spite of knowing the negative consequences of their actions on each and every facet of their life. Technically, it is defined as a “problematic viewing of pornographic material often resulting in social and psychological problems”. Some other forms of non-substance addictions are Work Addiction, Gambling Addiction, Internet Addiction, Love Addiction etc.
Signs and Symptoms
- Excessive indulgence in thinking about pornography
- Looking out and eagerly waiting for the latest addition of pornographic publications
- Fantasizing about porn stars
- Being an active member of multiple pornographic forums online
- Obsessed with the acting in porn films
- Inability to function properly during periods of “urges” of watching porn
- Trying to get over it but unable to do so, leading to distress and mental imbalance
- Unable to perform sexually without watching porn
- Often asking your partner to behave the way people do in porn films
- Calling out your partner by the name of your favorite porn stars
- Thoughts and obsession about porn start interfering in your day to day life incessantly
Causes and Risk Factors
Pornographic addiction is caused due to an increase in dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for sending out “pleasure” signals to the brain. Dopamine also enables the brain to learn and remember the actions that give pleasure. That is, a patient learns and remembers the “high” porn gives him/her.
Some researchers believe that pornographic addiction may also be caused by genetics. Genetic mutations and heredity can cause various types of substance and non-substance addictions. Generally people who are sensitive to trauma, are anxious, lead a stressful lifestyle or have had a troubled childhood are most susceptible to porn addiction than others.
Some researchers believe that it is an “escape” route for the patient. Most patients find “respite and pleasure” in certain forms of activities, which have become addictive over time. People usually rely on pornography to escape the feeling of loneliness or depression and stay happy.
People suffering from porn addiction are exposed to certain risks including:
- Strained social relationships
- Distress by multiple failed attempts of overcoming it
- Criminal ideation
- Suicidal ideation
Porn addiction can best be treated in a rehabilitation facility. Therapists and physicians can work with patients to determine the best treatment plan suitable to each respective case.
Porn addiction needs to be treated with caution because it may bring unforeseen and unpredictable withdrawal symptoms. Patients may need to be administered anti-depressants and narcotics in order to help them overcome withdrawal symptoms.
Porn addiction is usually treated by using targeted psychotherapy on patients. Group therapy and Cognitive behavioral therapy are great methods to help patients overcome it as they can allow the patients to interact with individuals going through the same addiction and look introspectively into their own problem. CBT also enlists the negative consequences of the patients’ addiction for porn and also lists down the ways in which the patients can overcome the urge to indulge in porn. Over time patients learn how to handle their urge and find other positive and healthy activities to indulge in and find they pleasure they need to lead a happy life.