Porn addiction and psychotherapy

posted in: Psychotherapy | 0

Signs of porn addiction:

porn hooked

  • porn is being used to mask painful feelings
  • the use of porn is becoming unmanageable
  • porn is having a negative impact on your life

 Symptoms of porn addiction:

  • problems forming lasting social and intimate romantic relationships
  • distortion of sexual expectations in real-life relationships
  • obsessing on porn material
  • intense feelings of depression, shame and isolation
  • secretive behaviour, i.e., using secret email accounts
  • increase in stress leading to problems in other parts of life
  • problems with concentration
  • disintegration of relationships with family, friends and romantic partners
  • loss of many hours, sometimes entire days, to viewing porn
  • trouble at work or in school
  • financial issues, debts accrued by use of porn web sites
  • legal issues (often related to illegal porn use)
  • sexual dysfunction with real-world partners, including erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation and an inability to reach orgasm

For girls and women porn creates problems around how they come to view their bodies

Users turn to porn to fill an emotional void they feel within themselves.  Users find that looking at porn imagery allows them to feel a pleasure and satisfaction that covers up emotional emptiness and longing.

man computer

The use of porn will start as an exciting distraction and then gradually become an obsession

Once users have become accustomed to the images they find in porn they can find the reality of ordinary human sexuality strange and unfulfilling.  Porn has a destructive impact on the mind and psyche of the user.

People often turn to porn out of a sense of loneliness.  Or because of needs that they feel are not being met.  Then when they immerse themselves in the compulsive and artificial world on sex sites they become further isolated and estranged from themselves and the people around them.

At heart the porn addict is fending off a painful sense of longing and loneliness

Steve McQueen’s film Shame (2011) is a powerful drama about a man consumed by his addiction to porn.

Over exposure to porn breaks down the value of real human contact and relatedness

Porn websites usually contain content with solely graphic representations of sex.  There is generally no narrative or sensuality or intimate relationship involved.  In porn imagery you tend to see just bodies, often a large erect penis penetrating a woman’s body.  Consequently users of porn sites develop a distorted and damaged sense of what is normal or expected in intimate relationships.  This is particularly harmful for young people who develop a distorted sense of what is expected of them.

A person who has become addicted to porn finds themselves drawn into one image or film after another.  They are pulled in to a search which becomes longer and longer.  They are like a person in a dream trying to track down something they can never quite reach.

Porn leaves the user with a sense of dissatisfaction, and with other difficult feelings.  These feelings become part of a secretive side of the porn user.

Porn draws the user into an ever expanding web

As the porn user is drawn further in to the search terms and web sites, so they lose more and more time, and become increasingly preoccupied.  This is why the user needs to speak to someone about this.  Otherwise this problem is likely to get worse and the consequences become more serious.

As the preoccupation with porn grows, the user will start to lose touch with the value and meaning of their real relationships

The porn user is no longer satisfied by their partners the way they used to be.  Now they have found a new secret world which promises to show them everything, to satisfy them completely, but in fact this satisfaction is illusory and destructive.

So the search goes on, drawing the user further away from real relationships, relentlessly costing more time, and often money too, as the porn user fills their mind with distorted images and sensations.

The only thing porn sites want the user to do is to stay on them for longer

This kind of experience of being gradually caught up in the dissociating fantasy of porn can be treated by counselling and psychotherapy.  In psychotherapy it may become possible to develop a therapeutic relationship which helps to reconnect the porn addict with themselves, and with a more creative way of relating to themselves and other people.  Psychotherapy can help the user understand more about the painful sense of longing and emptiness that they are using pornography to cover up.

xxx video led

Why should you stop watching porn?

Porn damages the process and experience of ordinary human interaction and of arousal.  It confuses the users’ mind.

When you become aroused hormones are released into your system. That is one thing if it is part of a relationship or even an imaginative masturbatory fantasy, but when it becomes triggered by pornographic images it confuses the mind.

Inevitably porn also introduces the viewer to images that they otherwise would not choose to see.  So for example the likelihood of looking at images of under age girls and boys.

Porn is a business

The user can think they are looking at something that is consensual, but actually they are looking at women being exploited.  The user is being exploited too, drawn into watching more of the damaging images.

Increasingly children and adolescents are becoming consumers of porn.  Digital technology and mobile phones have made web sites accessible.  This causes problems in adolescent relationships.  In particular it can put young girls in the position of feeling they should be prepared to take part in sexual activities that they don’t want to, and make them feel inadequate about their bodies.

Porn increases peer pressure and the sense of sexual expectations

Girls can get caught up in being photographed, pushed into feeling they should agree to things they don’t want to.  Then there is the fear and worry about what happens to those images.

Here is a link to Rav Gavrieli’s excellent Ted Talk; Why I stopped watching porn

What treatments are available?

As with other addictive problems it is helpful to be able to speak confidentially in a non judgemental environment.  The experience of talking about this secretive side of your life will provide a sense of relief.

Treatments based upon 12 step programmes such as those used to treat alcohol or drug addictions can be very useful, and they are free.  Here is a link to Sex Anonymous UK.  The Sex Anonymous UK site will show you where meetings are located as well as provide you with other useful information.

If you are going to a 12 step meeting for the first time my suggestion is that you listen to the similarities in the stories you hear.  Don’t focus upon your sense of the difference between you and the people you meet there.

Everyone will be there because of problems related to sex and porn addictions.

Why use psychotherapy to treat porn addictions?

In the first place a psychotherapist can help the user face up to the question of what is going on.

Psychotherapy is a confidential conversation – it is a safe space to discuss sensitive issues.

If the user finds that they want to explore the questions behind their behaviour further – psychotherapy will help.

Psychotherapy can help the user understand the unmet needs that they are turning to porn to fill.

At Counselling Buckinghamshire I have experience of working with people trying to overcome problems relating to sex and porn addiction.  Contact now for a free telephone consultation to discuss how this approach may be relevant to you.