Exploring pornography addiction
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Adam Matthew Day BSc (Hons) MBACP
28th August, 20150 Comments
Although sex/pornography is much more accessible to the world through the internet or pay per view TV channels, the ease of turning to such mediums can develop into prolonged torture for those who find themselves addicted to such material. The why question often rears its irresistible head when an individual struggles to understand what started their seductive obsession with explicit videos or images. Though most people wish to abstain from pornography addiction they are reluctantly compelled to continue, even though viewing or masturbating to porn perpetuates feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment and self anger. It is because of these feelings that people tend to deny porn addiction or hide it from others, particularly those closest to them. There is no doubt that this issue is extremely sensitive and for those struggling with it, potentially a nightmare.
By itself, many people feel that viewing porn from time to time is fine, but when does it become more complicated? Well, first of all each individual is entirely unique from the next. In this instance it’s really impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when viewing porn became an issue because the addiction started well before that moment. Think about it, being human is so incredibly complex. Each person has entirely different life experiences from the next, born into different cultures, family rituals, beliefs and values, and all come ready loaded with history. Each person’s physical make up is chemically different from the next, produced by genes which are expressed through the environment by unique life experiences. In short trying to find the definitive why is impossible. The answer actually lies in self-exploration, building a broader picture of who you are and your roots. Here are parts of the puzzle which may have been neglected until now:
Familial religious guilt: Being brought up within a culture/family centred around a particular faith which views sex as a sacrilege before marriage or something which isn't to be spoken of. Or perhaps being raised within a non-liberal environment where sex just isn’t talked about. Guilt from such experiences can stem from covertly viewing pornography in order to explore the body sexually.
A meaningful sexual experience: The first sexual experience may have been significant. Perhaps perceived as a failure, perhaps highly traumatic? Watching explicit material can be a way of gaining control or attempting to understand past experiences.
Death of a significant other: Loss/grief can be highly complex depending on the relationship shared with a loved one who has passed away and the nature of their death. Masturbation can be a way of dealing with the intense emotions elicited by the loss.
Anxiety/worry/boredom/anger: Such feelings are common place and masturbation can, like many things today, act as a perfect distraction from uncomfortable feelings/thoughts. Anger in particular can manifest itself through pornography as a release or way of dealing with a lack of control.
Feeling lost: When people feel lost they often turn to other people/objects/behaviours in order to gain a sense of self and avoid the void. Such connections can temporarily stave of feelings of loneliness/emptiness or nothingness.
Suppression of pain: The sensations felt through masturbation can temporarily stave off attention to pain whether temporary or chronic and can act as a powerful pain killer. Pain can be physical or mental.
Sexual libido/erectile issues: Such issues can be extremely distressing as the person desperately searches for the answer to physical changes. Pornography can act as a medium for such individuals to test their body to see if it reacts to sexual stimulus.
Unable to conceive/low sperm count: The intense feelings which arise from such difficulties can be expressed through pornography as the person seeks to re-gain some sense of control through an uncontrollable situation.
Overall, there are multifarious reasons why a person places more attention on pornography than usual and several of the above reasons at once may contribute to a person spending more time viewing such material. Often this escalates, becoming more frequent and explicit as the person seeks to gain a greater high or understanding of themselves, and more complex as they seek to hide it from a loved one. Pornography often acts as a distraction from life issues, but more importantly, from the individual him/herself. To say this is wrong would be an incorrect way of approaching the issue, and can perpetuate feelings of anger, guilt and embarrassment as the person further seeks to hide away their behaviours.
Viewing pornography has become normal in our society and like anything in life the answers lie in self-exploration and understanding.
About the author
Adam Day is trained in various approaches as an intergrative therapist; these include humanistic (person centered/existential), cognitive behaviour therapy, and psychodynamic.
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