Right, that’s the corny titles all used up now! In my article back in the Spring Edition, I hinted that we may look into the impact of addiction to online pornography. Well, I’m back to write about just that!
The amount of adult content that turns up on an innocuous internet search is no accident. It’s a clever attempt to draw you in. The Porn Industry is at the forefront of technological advancements; where it leads, internet development follows. Webcams and online payments and many other fantastic applications came from this sector which is very effective at getting their services viewed
I’m not here to preach. The use of pornography can be very effective in many different ways for people but in its internet format it is very addictive. If you are just viewing the odd bit here and there, fine. But, when I see people who are risking their jobs, relationships, financial security and even their liberty that’s when you know there is a problem that needs addressing.
Within the field of sexually related psychotherapies, pornography addiction is being viewed as the next big thing. A specific phenomenon that has got people’s attention is that of younger men- under 40, presenting for treatment to their GP with Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Much research has been carried out and a link made to the viewing of pornography and rising incidents of ED.
No pun intended. A possible causal effect of this is the altering of some neurochemical processes within the brain as a result of repeated exposure to sexual scenes, often with men developing a “tolerance” for sexually explicit material thus leading them to seek out more novel or bizarre material to achieve the same level of arousal. If a man accompanies his viewing with a physical workout shall we say, then thinking back to what you may know of behavioural psychology and Pavlov’s Dog. You are creating a conditioned response to a specific set of stimuli which becomes positively reinforced each time it is repeated. Then, when intimate with a real woman a guy’s penis doesn’t respond how it should, as natural functioning has been over written with the new pattern of behaviour.
Pornography essentially trains men to be digital voyeurs looking at women rather than seeking genuine connection and intimacy. There are many knock on effects of this, some of which have been noted in recent studies, one such article that appeared in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that exposure to pictures of female centrefold models from Playboy and Penthouse, significantly lowered their judgements about the attractiveness of ‘average’ people, with another study from the journal of Applied Social Psychology finding that; after only a few prolonged exposures to pornographic videos, men and women alike reported less sexual satisfaction with their
intimate partners which included their partner’s affection, physical appearance and sexual performance.
We might say then that the real problem with pornography isn’t that it shows us too much sex but that it can’t show us enough of what real sex is.
Pornography displays sex one-dimensionally taken out of its relational context but it can’t offer the reality of multi-dimensional intimacy. It makes real women just seem like ‘bad porn’. What a sad state of affairs that is to be in.
The longer someone has been viewing pornography via this medium, the more difficult it can be to treat. That is because it is impacting so many different areas of the brain and altering the functioning in a more complex way, whereas back in the day, when all there was to look at were magazines
without moving images and sound, that is easier to recover from as the neurological elements are not altered on so many levels and at such depth.
With the accessibility of technology now to younger people becoming a norm, the training in these habits is beginning at a very young age. Given that any sexual act you can think of is available on the internet to view, this means that a mind trained for fantasy will find reality dull no matter how stunning the reality is. Pornography trains boys and men to be consumers, to treat sex as a commodity to think of it as on-tap and made to order, unfortunately leading to a generation exposed to miseducation about sex and relationships. However, neuroplasticity is your friend! This means your brain has the ability to change, to learn different ways of doing things. So there is hope after all!
With nearly 20 years of experience in the field of sexual health Nicola has a thriving private practice and also works on behalf of the NHS as a Specialist Psychotherapist.