Written by Susie Flashman Jarvis
I spend a great deal of my time talking about the problems of pornography and I am always surprised at how little is known about it. Wherever I speak, men and women are shocked at the information that I share. So maybe I will shock you too, as we investigate the problem of addiction to pornography.
Why do people use pornography?
It can be a lonely world out there, in a society where so many people are isolated due to another addiction i.e. screens. So, people are finding alternative ways to connect. We all have a drive to belong and for many people pornography appears, at first to meet that need.
There is increasing pressure to perform, to move up the ranks in the business world, to succeed on many levels, at home, as well as at work and thus more of a need to self-soothe and re-balance. The release of an orgasm however it is reached, can release some of that stress, the problem with pornography is that it brings with it a host of additional stresses that are not so easily remedied.
3. A boring sex life
For some it may bring stimulation within a bored sexual relationship and it is either shared as stimulation or used secretly.
What is the cost of addiction to pornography?
Addiction has at its core a drive to deal with feelings that are often unspoken, experienced as intolerable. But the cost of this addiction is a whole new set of emotions that need to be managed, the consequences of which are often severe, leaving the feelings that were there originally, as preferential.
As a speaker, coach, counsellor and writer, I have met men and women who are having to live with consequences which can be severe. One man I met had lost his job and had not seen his family, his wife and children for many years.
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What does a pornography addiction do to the brain?
Dopamine is a chemical that is released within the brain as a reward for actions taken. For example, when you eat a good meal or when you have good sex dopamine is released. The problem when dopamine is released while viewing pornography, is that it starts to take more extreme images to get to the same ‘high’. Just like a cocaine addict, even more of the drug is needed just to feel normal. The truth is that just like cocaine addiction, the problem of addiction to pornography is that it re-hardwires the brain.
What other consequences does pornography have on your body?
There is now a condition that affects men called porn induced erectile dysfunction. This means that it takes more extreme images for men addicted to pornography to have an erection. Also, it means that when men try to have sex with their partners, if their partner seems less than perfect then they will not have what it takes. The results in marriages are disastrous.
I have sat with many women who feel betrayed by their man who chooses to have sex with another woman. This is how they feel about their partner watching pornography, they can’t compete with an image on a computer.
Whilst it can really damage men in the way they view women, it also affects women making them feel inadequate.
What about young people, even children?
They are stumbling across pornography at very young ages, sometimes as young as five and teenagers are getting their sex education from the internet. They are forming views that sex is often about violence, not intimacy as well have little understanding about consent. Their brains are being re-hardwired as teenagers anyway and so the damage that pornography can do is immense.
It is crucial that parents have security on their home computers as many children state that the first time they stumble across pornography, is at home.
What’s to be done?
Seek help. There are various support groups available. A few include:
Sex addicts anonymous