Sexual Dysfunction: The Escalating Price of Abusing Porn

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Sexual Dysfunction: The Escalating Price of Abusing Porn
Find out what can happen when a porn habit spirals out of control in this article from Psych Central

If it turns out the problem is porn addiction, the individual will need to understand that, like all addictions, porn addiction “rewires” the brain in ways that make it more difficult to experience “natural” pleasures, including pleasure from sex with a willing spouse or partner. As such, he should not expect the problem to remedy itself overnight. In fact, neuroscience tells us that it can take a year or more for the dopaminergic or pleasure pathways in the brain, when altered by addictive behaviors, to normalize.

Possible signs that porn use has escalated into addiction include:

  • Continued porn use despite consequences and/or promises made to self or others to stop
  • Escalating amounts of time spent on porn use
  • Hours, sometimes even days, lost to viewing pornography
  • Viewing progressively more arousing, intense, or bizarre sexual content
  • Lying, keeping secrets, and covering up the nature and extent of porn use
  • Anger or irritability if asked to stop
  • Reduced or even nonexistent interest in sexual, physical, and emotional connections with spouses or partners
  • Deeply rooted feelings of loneliness, and detachment from other people
  • Drug/alcohol use or drug/alcohol addiction relapse in conjunction with porn use
  • Increased objectification of strangers, viewing them as body parts rather than people
  • Escalation from viewing two-dimensional images to using the Internet for anonymous sexual hook-ups and to find prostitutes

Sadly, porn addicts are often reluctant to seek help because they don’t view their solo sexual behaviors as an underlying source of their unhappiness and/or inability to perform sexually. Others simply feel too ashamed. And when these individuals do seek assistance, they often seek help with their addiction’s related symptoms and not the problem itself—visiting a doctor to ask about potential physical causes of sexual dysfunction, masturbation related penile irritation, or to seek counseling for “relationship problems.” Sadly, many porn addicts visit medical doctors and attend extensive psychotherapy without ever discussing (or even being asked about) their use of pornography and/or masturbation. Thus, their core problem can remain underground and untreated.

All professionals treating men with arousal/desire related concerns—in the psychotherapy, sex therapy, and medical fields—have to be ready to ask questions about porn use and masturbation. If porn addiction is uncovered, extensive counseling with a trained and licensed sex addiction treatment specialist is required, often in concert with couples therapy, group work, and, if useful, involvement with a 12-Step recovery program. It is important to note that porn addiction is most often a symptom of underlying emotional and relationship concerns that will require longer-term psychotherapy and support to overcome, but this psychotherapy and support can be successful only after the presenting behavioral issue has been identified and eliminated.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

John M. Grohol

Psychologist

Dr. John Grohol is a mental health expert and founder of Psych Central. He has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues, and the intersection of technology and psychology since 1992.

Location: Newburyport, MA
Credentials: PsyD
Website: PsychCentral
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