Science Stopped Believing in Porn Addiction, and You Should Too

Written by Dr. White, Published on September 7th, 2018

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As Internet use continues to increase our lives, the topic of porn addiction has become an increasingly popular point of debate. Is porn addiction real or is the guilt and compulsion that so many feel the result of other deep-seeded issues which are misinterpreted as an addiction to pornography? Therapy Centers that focus on porn addiction are popping up all over the country, especially in more conservative areas such as Utah. There are also countless websites online designed to help men and women get over their reliance on pornography in their everyday life.

While the concept of porn addiction is alive in the public consciousness, is there the hard science to support such a notion? Recent research suggests that porn addiction may be a cultural phenomenon related to our moral and ethical taboos rather than an inherent issue in human psychology.

The issues associated with the consumption of pornography appear to be strongly correlated with the underlying belief system of the individual. Those who are particularly religiously or morally opposed to pornography on an ideological level are vastly more likely to have issues related to porn addiction than those that have an ethical framework that is more accepting of pornography as an industry and commodity.

Meta-Analysis of Porn Addiction Research

Four researchers, Rory Reid, Joshua Wilt, Samuel Perry, and Josh Grubbs, recently analyzed accumulated scientific data to provide insight into the validity of pornography addiction as a diagnosable condition. Rory Reid is an expert that specializes in the realm of sex addiction and other related conditions. He is well known in the community for advocating for research into the potential inclusion of a hypersexual disorder in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Interesting enough, this meta-analysis has shown that being a casual viewer of pornography does not have a strong link to symptoms associated with porn addiction, but that the religious persuasion of the individual does have a healthy relationship to potentially psychologically harmful issues related to pornography.

The researchers amassed the results of a wide range of research and found that the vast majority of people that did not find pornography problematic had no issues with adverse consumption of the product. They connected negative consequences resulting from pornographic material to a variable which they called Pornography Problems due to Moral Incongruence, or PPMI for short.

They found that a significant subset of individuals struggling with problematic, uncontrollable, or dysregulated pornography issues was driven by their underlying moral discomfort with pornography. While pornography consumption is quite common even among the religious, it is primarily those that are morally or religiously conservative that consider their pornography use a problem, or are otherwise driven by guilty compulsion.

History of Porn Addiction Research

The source of the modern concept of pornography addiction was a psychologist named Al Cooper. He believed that the rise of the internet was directly responsible for a meteoric rise in cases of Porn Addiction, owing to the ease of access to affordable pornography without fear of repercussions. While he makes a compelling argument which appeals to common sense, his ideas have failed to hold up to legitimate scrutiny.

A critical early study showed that the anonymity, cost, and accessibility had no statistical relationship to the use of pornography or any adverse effect on sexual behavior. On the other hand, quick, anonymous, cheap access to pornography did prove itself to be a significant potential problem for those that have repressed sexuality owing to religious beliefs.

Results of Porn Addiction Meta-Analysis

Researchers pored over an extensive collection of research studies related to the study of Porn Addiction. Of this host of studies, they conducted data-analysis upon about fifteen studies which involved almost 7000 subjects. All analyzed studies were conducted in Europe or the United States, some online and others in person. The most precise indicator of adverse issues related to pornography consumption was religious fervency.

While some people have issues with pornography which aren’t connected to religion, the majority of individuals with reservations regarding pornography are religious. Online Pornography Addiction, if it existed, would be categorized under the umbrella of Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder. Moral issues with sex which create psychological problems related to sex and pornography are not considered an aspect of this disorder. Researchers also discovered that the most reliable predictor of self-perceived porn addiction and other issues related to pornography is whether the individual has moral problems related to pornography.

Grubbs and his associates found little indication that individuals with healthy attitudes toward pornography were prone to adverse issues related to their porn consumption. In the end, Porn Addiction appears to be a symptom of other underlying sexual complications that may need to be confronted. For those that struggle with issues stemming from pornography, over-reliance on porn can lead to ethical and religious conflict, depression, anxiety, stress, and low levels of sexual satisfaction.

All of this suggests that if you have no ethical issues with porn, there’s little risk that you’ll experience problematic issues related to your enjoyment. On the other hand, if you do have ethical/moral/religious issues with pornography, you may benefit from reaching out to a professional for assistance.

 

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