Science Says Your Porn "Addiction" Isn't Real, So That Excuse Is BS

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porn addiction
Sex, Self

A study found that porn addiction doesn't have the same effect on people as other addictions do.

Every time neuroscientists Nicole Prause and Vaughn Steele publish one of their theories that porn addiction isn't really an addiction, people get upset.

Therapists that treat porn consumption problems based on an addiction model get upset, as do religious groups that are invested in maintaining a concept of porn addiction.

There are also the debates among people who think porn is key to a healthy sex life, and those who believe it causes violence and ultimately damages relationships.

But in a new study conducted by Dr. Prause and Dr. Steele in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences discovered that there's one thing porn isn't, and that's addictive. The study found that when people are shown erotic images, the brain's normal addiction reactions are reversed. 

Most of the time, addicts show more brain reactions to the object of their addiction. However, Prause and Steele's findings in Biological Psychology showed that people who struggled with excessive porn watching had decreased brain reactions when watching porn.

The study asked 122 men and women to answer questions about their relationship to visual sexual stimuli, to determine if they experienced problems as a result of their porn usage. Whether the subjects were problem users or not, they were all shown a variety of images — some sexual, some not sexual — while their brains were monitored using Electroencephalography technology or EEG.

By using the EEG, the researchers were able to examine each subject's late positive potential (LPP), a common measure for the intensity of the brain's emotional response at a given moment.

"This means that their brain was not sensitized to sexual images, which is important because every other substance and behavioral addiction show sensitization in the LPP," Dr. Prause told Huffington Post.

If porn over-consumption differs from other addictions as the study suggests, it makes sense that they'd be treated differently.

"Calling it an addiction may be harming patients, so we should require healthcare workers to provide treatments supported by research," Prause said.

Sometimes, being able to come up with the right label for a problem is the first step in treating it. Maybe this study will improve and change treatments for porn "addicts" in the future.