Addicted to porn


  • Putting Dr G On The Spot
  • Sunday, 08 Sep 2019

Filepic is for illustration purposes

Dear Dr. G,

I email you with a great deal of regret and shame.

As a millennial maturing into my mid twenties, I realise my appetite for pornographic material has not diminished since my teenage years.

Instead, I actually noticed the desire for online porn is getting stronger, and I suspect I have porn addiction.

I started watching porn when I was in my late teens out of curiosity. After all, the access to porn is as easy as a Google search these days.

I begun to search for all sorts of material online and finding the viewing experience both exciting and stimulating. I guess this is a great deal easier than courtship and sustaining a real life sexual relationship.

I did engage in a relationship, my girlfriend was very put off by my behaviour. Needless to say, we broke off soon after she caught me watching porn in secret.

I realise I need to stop all these, but I get very agitated after stopping for a while, as the lure of porn is really affecting my work and life.

I would like to put Dr. G on the spot to get rid of my shameful behaviour.

Is there such a thing as porn addiction? How much viewing is considered detrimental?

Is such viewing dangerous? Lastly, is there any treatment available for my addiction?

Regards,

Addicted Adam

Addiction, by definition is a disorder characterised by the compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. Like any behavioural addiction, porn addict is characterised by the ever-growing compulsion to view pornographic content. Neither the DSM-5 nor the ICD-11 classifications recognise compulsive pornographic consumption as a mental disorder or addiction.

However, many healthcare providers insist "pornography addiction" has a negative impact on physical, mental, social, relationship and financial wellbeing.

The American actor Chris Rock had attributed his divorce to his infidelity and porn-addiction. He even discussed the details of his addiction on the standup comedy special, Tamborine. Following the confession, many celebrities such as Juliette Binoche, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson have collectively spoken out against pornography.

Some analyst revealed pornography usage makes up approximately 13% of total Internet traffic. In other words, most of us have watched online porn at some point in our lives, but few actually own up to the habit. Hence, it is impossible to gauge the scale of porn addiction. One survey of 84 college-age males demonstrated 20-60% of the participants found the consumption to be problematic. Another study of 9,265 users found 17% of the participants meet the criteria for problematic sexual compulsion. The overall Internet addiction disorder studies concluded the rate as ranging from 1.5% to 8.2% in Europe and the US.

Different levels of porn consumption have variable adversity on different individuals. Generally, usage resulting in lack of control, sense of guilt and interfering with relationship is considered detrimental. As the accessibility of Internet pornography proliferates exponentially, many clinicians are also concerned about the issues of virtual porn potentially distancing individuals from relationship. Individuals who watch porn regularly get used to the "quick-fix" intense rush it creates. In contrast to real sex, courtship ritual including flirtation, appreciation, respect and consent prior to sex is part of building a relationship. Moreover, the fantasy of what people should look like and act like are obviously different in real life. This can create disparity in expectation that will create a dent in a normal sex life for couples, decreasing interest in a committed relationship.

Some therapists advocate cognitive-behavioural intervention as a treatment for pornography addiction. Others encourage acceptance and commitment therapy to alter the problematic Internet Pornography viewing. Support groups such as Sex Addictions Anonymous (SAA) have also emerged with recovery tools to share experience and strength to diminish dependency.

The Greek stoic philosopher, Epictetus who is well known for reflection through rigorous self-discipline once said: "One oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasure ceases to please." In reality, many men (and potentially women) who are attracted to porn are lured by the "cheap thrill" to overcome the "quick itch" and develop into "lazy lovers" who are entrapped in the fantasy world of virtual sex.

Although satisfying the recurrent urges will initially develop dependency and addiction, overstepping the bounds of moderation can surely make even the great pleasure of pornography non-pleasurable.


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Dr George Wong , Columnist

Dr George Lee

Dr George Lee

Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Ask Dr G” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at askdrg@thestar.com.my

   

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