Porn addiction is a complicated and highly controversial topic, not the least of which because researchers across the medical and psychiatric communities still debate whether the excessive use of pornography qualifies as an addiction in the scientific sense. However, regardless of whether porn addiction is a “scientific” addiction, it is undeniably a moral addiction that has had a negative effect on many people’s lives, leading to a slew of personal, social, financial, and professional problems. With the constantly connected nature of the modern internet and the overall ease of access to pornographic material online, it is also an issue that is also more rampant than ever before. As such, for the sake of one’s health and wellness, it is important to understand the symptoms and potential dangers of porn addiction.
In its simplest terms, porn addiction is an obsessive compulsion to view pornographic materials in spite of the damaging effects it might have on one’s physical, financial, social, mental, and moral wellbeing. It can quickly devolve into obsessive behavior that is harmful on a multitude of levels. Regardless of the uncertainty of considering porn addiction as an “scientific” addiction, many of the common symptoms associated with the condition are quite similar to addiction and withdrawal: strong cravings for porn akin to nicotine addiction are typical, as are feelings of anger or frustration if asked to stop using it. Furthermore, like many substance addictions, porn addiction often leads to the “user” building up a tolerance, requiring increasing amounts or more explicit porn to get the same level of satisfaction. This consuming need for pornography can lead to several negative effects, ranging from depression and social isolation to career loss and financial consequences.
Much like with addictions to drugs or alcohol, someone who is addicted to pornography will start to crave their addiction to the detriment of anything else, and with porn addiction it is especially harmful to one’s personal relationships, particularly with their spouse or significant other. Research has shown that excessive use of pornography can result in lower sexual quality and intimacy among men, who often start to prefer the solitary experience of porn viewing over the communication and connection that comes with being with a relationship. There is a tendency for men to withdraw emotionally and become more secretive of their habits.
Even if for those who are lacking the compulsion that defines porn addiction, excessive exposure to porn can have a negative impact of their perceptions on sex and romantic relationships. Though it often aims to be naturalistic, pornography is a type of fiction that paints unrealistic ideas about sex and attraction. While we tend to think of pornography as a substitute for sex that cannot compare to the real thing, for those suffering from porn addiction the opposite is often the case: the reality of human contact cannot compare to the fantasy offered by pornography, as it is devoid of the messy and complex nature of social interaction. The skewed perspectives that arise from excessive porn usage can damage our existing relationships and make forming new ones far more difficult.
Along with the considerable damage that porn addiction can have on personal relationships, it can also have a dramatic effect on one’s ability to function during regular daily activities like work or school. As with most forms of addiction, excessive porn usage can increase in frequency and duration to the point where it interferes with other aspects of people’s lives. It can hinder the ability to focus for long periods of time and can result in lost jobs from visiting adult websites during work hours. In addition, it can become a major financial strain, as some sufferers will start spending money on what they consider to be higher quality content.
Whether or not you believe that porn addiction is a “scientific” addiction, it is still a condition that has negatively affected many people, damaging their relationships with others, and as with more conventional addictions, porn addiction rarely occurs without cause. It often comes in response to other issues in one’s life, including depression, anxiety, or a lack of satisfaction in their love lives. Whatever the cause however, it is important to be conscious of behaviors that lead to addictive behaviors. For those who are concerned that they might be suffering from porn addiction, or believe that a loved one might be addicted, consider contacting an addiction center in your area. There are also specific organizations dedicated to helping people with excessive porn use, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous. With education and support, it is possible to address these concerns before they can lead to long term harm, ensuring a happier and more fulfilling life. It is also important to know that there are companies (such as CleanInter.net) that provide quality computer filtering programs that can protect families – adults and children – and businesses – employee surfing – from viewing pornography online.
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