Informal study shows pornography is more addictive than people think

One of the challenges of trying to accurately define the numbers of people addicted to sex is that the primary form of sex addiction (pornography) often goes unreported, since people don’t view it as a problematic or unhealthy behavior. And so we have people growing dependent on a certain sexual behavior but not realizing it because they don’t see it as a problem. It’s much like the situation were college students become binge drinkers and don’t realize they are becoming addicted to alcohol. They don’t sense their growing dependence on alcohol because it’s so common among their peers and doesn’t feel problematic. But when challenged to cut down, they realize the power that alcohol has over them. What about pornography? What happens when people who think it’s okay to view pornography are challenged to stop using it?

In her excellent book “Pornified” Pamela Paul writes about Continue reading Informal study shows pornography is more addictive than people think

Recovery Coaching is an important approach in addiction treatment

I love the role of recovery coach. Recovery coaching works over the phone, so it’s available for people literally all over the world. It works in conjunction with – not in competition with – therapy, recovery groups, workshops, and in-patient treatment. In fact, I beleive it should be required as part of the aftercare for workshop attendees and in-patient treatment centers. The experience of “re-entry” from the intensive, supportive, and relatively artificial environments of workshops and treatment centers is jarring and unsettling. Rates of relapse can be drastically reduced if people have access to expert coaching to help them navigate the transitions and shifts required for successful recovery.   Continue reading Recovery Coaching is an important approach in addiction treatment

Recent study shows telephone counseling can be effective

Given the fact that much of the work I do with recovering addicts and leaders is done over the phone, I was encouraged by the results of a study reported in the Journal of Counseling Psychology. This study gave a favorable review to counseling done over the phone.

“The researchers … found that telephone counseling was beneficial and satisfactory, marked by specific improvement on the issue that lead to counseling and global improvement in emotional state. 68 percent [of those surveyed] reported feeling very or completely satisfied with the telephone counseling and 53 percent said they felt somewhat better as a result of counseling.”

Just to be clear … what I offer people is coaching over the phone, not counseling or therapy. Continue reading Recent study shows telephone counseling can be effective

Survey Says: 1 in 3 Boys Heavy Porn Users

Results from a recent study show that pornography use among young teenagers is higher than anybody wants to admit. 430 students from 17 different schools across Alberta, Canada, were surveyed anonymously about if and how often they accessed sexually explicit content on television, video, and the Internet. Ninety percent of males and 70 percent of females reported accessing sexually explicit content at least once. More than one-third of the boys reported viewing pornographic media “too many times to count”, compared to eight percent of the girls surveyed. And get this: those surveyed were 13- and 14-year-olds.

Here’s what the lead researcher, Sonya Thompson, had to say, Continue reading Survey Says: 1 in 3 Boys Heavy Porn Users

Pornography, Sex Addiction, and the Work Place

OfficeI’ve been compiling materials for a presentation to business leaders about the impact of sexual addiction on the workforce. This is a real problem, and hopefully people will wake up to it. Here are some ways that sex addiction affects the bottom line for companies.

1. It wrecks marriages, which affects workers’ productivity

The trajectory of sex addiction is obvious and universal: left unchecked it will destroy relationships, especially marriages. So why should business care about employees’ personal problems? Continue reading Pornography, Sex Addiction, and the Work Place

How pornography harms kids

I keep encountering sites that talk about the effect of pornography on teenagers and kids. There’s a great article on this subject from the “ProtectKids.com” website. Let me give you a couple of the main points.

1. Porn changes kids’ attitudes toward women and sex

I’ve already talked about this at some length in an earlier post, but here it is again, with more research. I’ll quote at length, and bold some statements that are particularly important. The article includes footnotes with research reference, that I also include.

Just as thirty-second commercials can influence whether or not we choose one popular soft drink over another, exposure to pornography shapes our attitudes and values and, often, our behavior.

Photographs, videos, magazines, virtual games, and Internet pornography that depict rape and the dehumanization of females in sexual scenes constitute powerful but deforming tools of sex education. The danger to children stems at least partly from the disturbing changes in attitude that are facilitated by pornography. Replicated studies have demonstrated that exposure to significant amounts of increasingly graphic forms of pornography has a dramatic effect on how adult consumers view women, sexual abuse, sexual relationships, and sex in general. These studies are virtually unanimous in their conclusions: When male subjects were exposed to as little as six weeks’ worth of standard hard-core pornography, they:

  • developed an increased sexual callousness toward women
  • began to trivialize rape as a criminal offense or no longer considered it a crime at all
  • developed distorted perceptions about sexuality
  • developed an appetite for more deviant, bizarre, or violent types of pornography (normal sex no longer seemed to do the job)
  • devalued the importance of monogamy and lacked confidence in marriage as either a viable or lasting institution
  • viewed nonmonogamous relationships as normal and natural behavior

Victor B. Cline, Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children (New York: Morality in Media, 1990), 11.

2. Porn changes kids’ sexual behavior

I suppose this comes as no surprise to anyone, but research bears it out: porn viewing increases the likelihood that its teen viewers will act out what they see.

Research has shown that “males who are exposed to a great deal of erotica before the age of 14 are more sexually active and engage in more varied sexual behaviors as adults than is true for males not so exposed.” (K.E. Davis and G.N. Braucht, Exposure to Pornography, Character and Sexual Deviance, Technical Reports of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1970), 7.)

Experts in the field of childhood sexual abuse report that any premature sexual activity in children always suggests two possible stimulants: experience and exposure. This means that the sexually deviant child may have been molested or simply exposed to sexuality through pornography. (Stephen J. Kavanagh, Protecting Children in Cyberspace (Springfield, VA: Behavioral Psychotherapy Center, 1997), 58-59.)

In a study of six hundred American males and females of junior high school age and above, researcher Dr. Jennings Bryant found that 91 percent of the males and 82 percent of the females admitted having been exposed to X-rated, hard-core pornography. Over 66 percent of the males and 40 percent of the females reported wanting to try out some of the sexual behaviors they had witnessed. And among high schoolers, 31 percent of the males and 18 percent of the females admitted actually doing some of the things they had seen in the pornography within a few days after exposure. (Victor B. Cline, Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children (New York: Morality in Media, 1990), 11.)

3. Porn disrupts kids’ development and identity

This is especially true when kids encounter porn early in life. I will quote this next part at length from the article:

During certain critical periods of childhood, a child’s brain is being programmed for sexual orientation. During this period, the mind appears to be developing a “hardwire” for what the person will be aroused by or attracted to. Exposure to healthy sexual norms and attitudes during this critical period can result in the child developing a healthy sexual orientation. In contrast, if there is exposure to pornography during this period, sexual deviance may become imprinted on the child’s “hard drive” and become a permanent part of his or her sexual orientation. (Victor B. Cline, Pornography’s Effects on Adults and Children (New York: Morality in Media, 1990), 11.)

Psychologist Dr. Victor Cline’s findings suggest that memories of experiences that occurred at times of emotional arousal (which could include sexual arousal) are imprinted on the brain by epinephrine, an adrenal gland hormone, and are difficult to erase. (This may partly explain pornography’s addicting effect.) Viewing pornography can potentially condition some viewers to have recurring sexual fantasies during which they masturbate. Later they may be tempted to act out the fantasies as sexual advances.

Sexual identity develops gradually through childhood and adolescence. In fact, children generally do not have a natural sexual capacity until between the ages of ten and twelve. As they grow up, children are especially susceptible to influences affecting their development. Information about sex in most homes and schools, comes, presumably, in age-appropriate incremental stages based on what parents, educators, physicians, and social scientists have learned about child development. But pornography short-circuits and/or distorts the normal personality development process and supplies misinformation about a child’s sexuality, sense of self, and body that leaves the child confused, changed, and damaged. (Interview with Ann Burgess, professor of nursing, University of Pennsylvania, 15 January 1997. “Pornography – Victims and Perpetrators,” Symposium on Media Violence & Pornography, Proceedings Resource Book and Research Guide, ed. D. Scott (1984).)

Pornography often introduces children prematurely to sexual sensations that they are developmentally unprepared to contend with. This awareness of sexual sensation can be confusing and overstimulating for children.

The sexual excitement and eventual release obtained through pornography are mood altering. For example, if a young boy’s early stimulus was pornographic photographs, he can be conditioned to become aroused through photographs. Once this pairing is rewarded a number of times, it is likely to become permanent. The result is that it becomes difficult for the individual to experience sexual satisfaction apart from pornographic images. (Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. , “The Influence of Pornography on Sexual Development: Three Case Histories,” Family Therapy IX, no. 3 (1982): 265.)

One again, this last part is the problem that I see with men who are struggling with sex addiction. Their own sex life is impaired because they have become accustomed to sexual arousal and release around fantasy and images of women that don’t match with reality. If nothing else, porn sets up men to struggle with sexual satisfaction with their partner.

Why your brain is primed for addiction

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Just ran across a great article in the New Scientist online journal. It talks about current research being done on the “soft addictions” (addiction to behaviors, such as gambling or sex, as opposed to chemicals). It’s a great article, and I’m going to quote it at length here, and offer some of my own commentary.

Several studies of the brain and behaviour back the idea that there’s very little biological difference between what goes on in the head of a gambling addict and that of a crack addict. A growing number of researchers believe that the same processes lie behind all addictions, behavioural or chemical, whether it’s gambling or shopping, computer gaming, love, work, exercise, pornography, eating or sex. Continue reading Why your brain is primed for addiction

APA Task Force Report on the Sexualization of Girls

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The American Psychological Association has recently released a report from their task force, which has been studying the sexualization of girls, and the effect this is having not only on girls, but also on women and men. It’s a great report, and has some helpful information. Let me give a brief summary of some of the key points.

What is sexualization?

First off, what do we mean when we say that girls are “sexualized?” Here is how the report describes it … Continue reading APA Task Force Report on the Sexualization of Girls

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