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Home »  Sexual Health »  I am Addicted To Porn; Is It Harmful? Dr Rajan Bhonsle On Sex Addiction

I am Addicted To Porn; Is It Harmful? Dr Rajan Bhonsle On Sex Addiction

Pornography is a special class of 'sex addiction' distinct from promiscuity, compulsive masturbation, anonymous sex, paedophilia, phone sex, fetishes, voyeurism etc. Read here to know how pornography affects you and your sex life.

I am Addicted To Porn; Is It Harmful? Dr Rajan Bhonsle On Sex Addiction

Pornography is a special class of 'sex addiction' distinct from compulsive masturbation, phone sex, etc

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Pornography is a special class of sex addiction
  2. Like any other addiction, pornography can become user's fix
  3. Pornography promotes the allure of adultery and prostitution

What is 'Sex Addiction'?

A 'compulsive preoccupation' with any activity that can make the person 'dysfunctional' in the very primary areas of life such as studies/work, relationships, health, hygiene etc could be classified as addiction. It leaves a person isolated & dysfunctional in all major areas of life such as study, work, relationships, family life, social obligations, personal health & hygiene. Sexual addiction, therefore, implies an unrelenting inability in a person to control one's sexual urges / behaviour / preoccupation despite having a complete knowledge of its adverse consequences.

Some people have a heightened libido. As long as it does not make them 'dysfunctional' in any aspect of their life, it cannot be called as sex addiction. But if they have conflicts over it, or worse, are doing things on the sly, then it is a case of sex addiction.


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Pornography addiction can be described as obsessive relationship with a fantasy
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: Sexual Satisfaction Is Linked To The Size Of The Penis: Myth Or Fact

Pornography : The most common form of sex addiction

Pornography is a special class of 'sex addiction' distinct from promiscuity, compulsive masturbation, anonymous sex, paedophilia, phone sex, fetishes, voyeurism etc. Sex addiction is not like any other addiction because sex involves your most personal and complex emotions. For some sexually-addicted people, pornography has little appeal. For others, their entire sex addiction revolves around pornography. It can best be described as an obsessive relationship with a fantasy. For many others, pornography simply adds to their otherwise sexually addictive behaviour.

Pornography, like any other sex addiction, becomes the user's fix. The user becomes so enraptured, s/he ends up destroying good relationships, spending hours and sometimes days surfing the Internet for porn and throwing out thousands of rupees on illusions.

At first it is almost impossible for someone caught up in a pornography addiction to believe that he or she can find real sexual enjoyment and better sexual pleasure with a person instead of a fantasy. However, with effective counselling, a genuine relationship does become the preferred sexual interest of the pornography-addicted person.

Some people addicted to pornography would rather have sex with their partner than with a pornographic fantasy. Yet, they keep returning to pornography because they don't know how to overcome their addiction. For them, learning and applying the principles of overcoming addiction is the issue.

Also read: Here's Why Straight Parents Have A Hard Time Talking About Sex With Their Gay Kids And How To Make It Easier

Some pornography addicts believe they have the best of both worlds: their relationship and their addiction. Their belief is mistaken. In fact, they live with a severely limited relationship and a hidden addiction. One of the great rewards of overcoming a sex addiction is the ability to be fully committed to another person in a loving way, having nothing to hide and enjoying great sex.

Dr Victor Cline, noted researcher and professor of psychology said as early as the mid 1980s: "I have treated about 225 individuals over the past years who have had their lives disrupted one way or another because of their involvement with pornography. I have found a special syndrome associated with immersion in the world of pornography that repeats itself again and again." He found that there is a four-step progression among many who consume pornography.

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Pornography can affect your sex life in a negative way
Photo Credit: iStock

Pornography progresses through the following four stages.

1. Addiction: Pornography provides a powerful sexual stimulant or aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation.

2. Escalation: Over time, addicts require more explicit and deviant material to meet their sexual "needs."

3. Desensitisation: What was first perceived as gross, shocking and disturbing, in time becomes common and acceptable.

4. Acting out sexually: There is an increasing tendency to act out behaviours viewed in pornography.

Also read: Reduced Sex Drive? 6 Superfoods Which Can Boost Your Libido

Where it all begins...

Some therapists say that any form of sexual addiction is simply an excuse to justify lack of control (low frustration tolerance) and unwillingness to conform to acceptable norms. Other psychologists and psychiatrists maintain that it is a 'compulsive behaviour' that has its roots in early childhood and can afflict both males and females. It is believed that people who suffer from this disorder come from 'dysfunctional families' that failed to provide security and to reinforce the child's self-concept and self-esteem, and in which there was an absence of trust. The child could experience an empty feeling and also feel abandoned and vulnerable. There is evidence that a high percentage of people who experience the need to have a continuous compulsive urge to engage into a sexual activity or watch pornography, were physically or emotionally abused (either overtly or subtly) as children. These children could have been brought up to believe that sex was shameful, and that fantasising and masturbation were unacceptable. They also often display undeveloped social or dating skills. An intricate psychological pattern seems to emerge when they become adults. These people are usually involved in obsessive sexual activity, which provides a temporary relief. However, that feeling soon turns into disgust, resulting in more shame and anxiety. Then they become determined to and obsessed with controlling their urge, which results in over-control that cannot be sustained, and more shame and anxiety. They experience an inability to cope, the result of which is that they seek a sexual 'fix' again, bringing them back to square one.

No, it is NOT harmless!

Many people think that pornography is just harmless fun and that it has no ill effects. However, it is virtually impossible not to be affected by pornography.

Research has shown that pornography and its messages are involved in shaping attitudes and encouraging behaviour that can harm individuals and their families. Pornography is often viewed in secret, which creates deception within marriages that can lead to even divorce in some cases. In addition, pornography promotes the allure of adultery, prostitution and unreal expectations that can result in dangerous promiscuous behaviour.

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Pornography addiction can lead to divorce as well
Photo Credit: iStock

The general content of pornography supports abuse and the rape myth (that women enjoy forceful sex) and serves as a how-to for sex crimes. For example, in America, in the Phoenix neighbourhoods where 'adult' businesses were located, the number of sex offences was 506 percent greater than in areas without such businesses.

Dr Mary Anne Layden, director of education, University of Pennsylvania Health System, pointed out, "I have been treating sexual violence victims and perpetrators for 13 years. I have not treated a single case of sexual violence that did not involve pornography."

Effects on Real Relationship

Sexual excitement is a natural reaction to certain conditions. When those conditions are absent or inhibited, so is your natural sexual response. Sex is a great barometer for telling you how well your relationship is working, and when it needs more attention.

Some books say that if you are not turned on by your partner, you should fantasise about someone else while having sex, or watch blue films. These things may work to improve your sex life on a temporary and superficial level. But beware of the great danger in superficial sexual remedies. As you become more and more dependent on outside stimulation, you decrease your natural ability to feel turned on by your partner. You may feel turned on while being with your partner but not by her or him. Like we said earlier, two individuals who are turned on by themselves, but not by the other person, are two individuals who are having sex, but not making love.

Many people have come to rely on using pornography to become sexually stimulated. This is often because they have spent so much energy numbing themselves emotionally that they cannot really 'feel' unless they have a huge amount of stimulation. In our work with couples, We have found innumerable sexual problems and resentments stemming from the use of pornography. The wife cannot open up to her husband in bed because she knows that he has a collection of erotic videos, which he sees frequently. It makes her feel like she is not enough for him.

It is definitely a sign of sexual immaturity when one looks for excitement in pornographic films. For such a person sex is only skin deep. He is not adequately sensitive to the psychological and emotional components of sex.

Let us add that outside inputs are necessary when there is a lack of 'love' between partners... when sex is merely a physical activity. This lack of love cannot be blamed on only one partner. Love happens between two sensitive human beings. Both the partners need to deeply examine their relationship, either on their own individually, or with the help of a good counsellor.

Very often wives look down upon the husband and simply engage into the blame game. As counsellors, we advise them to change their focus from the other to oneself. They are told to ask themselves 'what can I do to bring more depth into my relationship and make it more than sex -a sharing of intimacy?'

We can therefore safely conclude, that getting obsessed and addicted to any sexual activity can in no way truly enhance the quality of sexual relating. In fact, it has the distinct possibility of causing deep hurt in the partner, and grave harm to the relationship as a whole.

(Dr. Rajan B. Bhonsle, is Consultant in Sexual Medicine & Counsellor)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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