Never has there been a time when porn has been as accessible as it is today with the proliferation of the internet. The uncensored World Wide Web has made it very easy for anyone, even minors, to access both visual and written sex. Aside from videos and erotic stories on straight sex, gay sex, BDSM, and incest, to name a few, one may download video games that cater to these adult predilections. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise if porn addiction is enjoying an unprecedented rise in today’s globally wired world.
About 10-30% of websites on the net today are dedicated to pornography. The demographics of porn watchers have become even more diverse and younger. Because of the privacy and easy access the internet can offer, more women are climbing onboard the porn wagon and so are more minors. Disturbingly, a study published in the journal Pediatrics reveals that about 42% of internet users aged between 10 to 17 years old have already been exposed to some type of adult content. As children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to habit-forming activities, porn viewing at this early age can form a permeating addiction, endowing lasting negative repercussions on their future lives.
The Nature of Porn Addiction
Porn is the short colloquial term for pornography which is any sexually oriented material produced for sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented through videos, video games, erotic literature, sculpture, photographs, anime (hentai), and sound recording platforms.
A person who is said to have a porn habit may not be addicted to porn…yet. A habitual porn user has the psychological capacity to choose or control whether to engage as a porn audience or stop being a porn user.
A porn addict, however, is drawn inexorably toward pornography. Similar to a drug or alcohol addiction, pornography addiction compromises the individual psychologically and physically by depriving him of control over this bad habit of voyeurism. Where an overwhelming interest on sexual imagery can become a bad habit, a porn addiction is formed by a bad voyeuristic habit that has spiralled into obsessive, uncontrollable behaviour.
Since addiction builds one’s tolerance levels, a porn addict’s taste in porn becomes increasingly perverse as he progressively builds his shock and arousal level of tolerance. His sexual tastes may become increasingly deviant. In addition, the frequency by which he engages in his addiction may become markedly increased over time. Just like any addiction, porn addiction takes toxic possession of one’s thought patterns, one’s relationship with others and his environment, and consequently one’s whole life.
A person with an addiction is usually prone to hiding their psychological affliction from others. It is no different with porn addicts. Porn addicts are very secretive of their obsession as they feel shame and guilt about their predilection. This is why it is very difficult for pornography addicts to seek help for their affliction, even as they recognize it to be so.
The Stages of Porn Addiction
An individual does not become a porn addict overnight. Just because someone views porn occasionally does not make him an addict. He may have sporadic interest in the subject matter or he may have the bad habit of wanting some porn for sexual titillation. What makes porn addiction different from just another bad habit is the excessive psychological attachment to sexual imagery.
Porn addiction progresses in five stages:
Exposure and Habit Creation
Most porn addicts have been exposed to pornographic material as a child, often around the age of 10. Curiosity may breed a porn viewing habit, leading one to often seek arousing material and to eventually incorporate this activity with some regularity.
This is the stage where one’s tolerance level begins to increase. Straight sex may now not hold so much appeal as the next level, gay sex. After some time, gay sex ceases to stimulate, so the hunt for the next sexually novel thing continues toward other forms, such as bestiality, incest, and so forth, escalating further down the line to more deviant forms.
At this point, explicit porn no longer doles out the sexual thrills the addict was attracted to in the first place. Very deviant images have become too mundane to illicit any arousal. The addict becomes desperate trying to get his excitement fix but is hardly able to find any sexual material that can satisfy his already jaded sexual palate.
This is the tipping point where the porn addict has become so callous to graphic pornography that he attempts to seek out real world experience. The behaviour often entails risk and may escalate to perverse sexual actions that in time may turn severely criminal. This way, one can say that porn addiction may be a gateway to drug to more serious sex addictions like rape, incest, paedophilia, and even murder. In the case of Ted Bundy, the infamous serial killer, his aberrant sexual crimes all stemmed from a fascination with smut magazines he discovered at the age of 13. This captivation escalated through the years from pornographic addiction to grisly serial killing.
Stopping Porn Addiction
The first thing a porn addict must come to terms with is to acknowledge that (1) he has a problem and (2) he needs professional help. Therapies are designed to stop the addictive behaviour and improve mental and emotional health. In the early stages of treatment, individual therapy may be applied in order for the mental health professional to make an in-depth assessment of the patient’s mental and emotional psyche. Group therapy with a 12-step recovery program may also be part and parcel of a treatment strategy.
Engaging in pornography often starts as harmless curiosity which in some may unfortunately escalate to deviant and damaging behaviour. Everyone should guard themselves against falling headlong into porn addiction or any addiction for that matter. As long as one is addicted, one is held thrall to their own physical and psychological impulses. The road to recovery will indeed be rough; but, with enough help and personal motivation, the addiction to porn can be eliminated. If you find yourself with such an addiction, the best time to seek help is NOW.