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Is Porn An Addiction?

Addiction, fantasy, habitual masturbation ...
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PaulB
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Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by PaulB »

Okay, I'm probably picking a fight here. And the mods and Board Czar have my encouragement to treat me like anyone else if I cross any lines...

A lot of Christians talk about porn being an addiction. Aside from the fact this is not my experience*, I find that wrong both scripturally and scientifically.

It seems to me porn use is a form of idolatry.

Thoughts?

*At the age of 15, I realised porn was not okay with God. I went from daily use to no use. No slips, not serious temptiaoitons, I just stopped. I figure if God did this with me, He can do it with others.
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by Doug »

OK. I'm game. I'm in.

I guess the question I would ask you is, why can't it be both an addiction and sin? Alcohol can lead to drunkenness (sin) and addiction. Gambling can be an addiction and a sin. I could continue with this theme for quite a while, but I will just stop at those two examples and ask another question. What, in your mind, makes pornography different than the two examples I listed?

As someone with a bent towards addiction, I have come to understand that over time, I have used a vast number of different "distractions" in an addictive manner. Pornography was only one of many, but others were downloading music, online forums(including TMB, I am sure), cycling or other fitness endeavors. Do those fit neatly into a clinical definition of addiction? Probably not. Was I using them in an addictive manner to avoid the reality I couldn't face. Absolutely. Furthermore, I am sure that I still do from time to time.
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by SeekingChange »

I absolutely agree it's idolatry, but can it not be both? I do think the word "addiction" is misused.

I know people who have had true addictions, such as with nicotine, who tried everything to quit, and then at a certain time under certain circumstances was able to quit cold turkey with no temptation to pick it back up. Our God is a miracle worker.
God can change what people do, behavioral patterns that have been in play for decades. He can change what we do to cope, to find comfort, to survive conflict, to count. Rahab had done a same old thing for years... and then she did something new.
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by FLLYDVTD1 »

I think it can absolutely be an addiction! Watching porn triggers a reaction in body and brain and can be something you become addicted to! It literally can change the pathways in the brain, just like an illicit drug.

I’m certainly glad you were able to stop so quickly, but it doesn’t work that way for a lot of other people.


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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by newwifenewlife »

Addiction definition is - a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence : the state of being addicted.

Porn is most definitely an addiction. It is habit forming, destructive relationally and it rewires the brain.

Is God a God who can do miracles and deliver people from addictions? Even seemingly with on going issues? Absolutely...and apparently he did in your case PaulB. But for so many others, it is a destructive force in people’s lives, marriages, and marriage beds. If you’ve been around here long, we’ve heard many confess to their addiction and it’s destructive force in their marriage/MB.
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by DoveGrey »

According to https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/pornography there is evidence that viewing porn causes changes in the brain. It's an older article, but it leads me to believe that excessive porn use can be an addiction in some people.

But I agree with others here that it can be both. If you're putting so much stock in something that it prevents you from living your life in a God-honoring way, then that's idolatry.

I agree with SC that the word addiction is overused. I wonder if it is overused because people know deep down that they are choosing a way of life that is not ideal. They are falling farther into a fallen world. The farther you fall, the tougher it is to come back.

You can blame that on an addiction instead of yourself, and some might see that as a cop-out. However, isn't that why God warns us about false idols? He knows what their lure is. He knows how easy it is to blame the idol instead of our own choices. He also knows which idols are going to physically change our brains. That first step into idolatry might be our choice, but further steps may be out of our hands depending on the idol. I personally feel that's when it crosses that line and also becomes am addiction.
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by Doug »

DoveGray wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 1:12 pm I wonder if it is overused because people know deep down that they are choosing a way of life that is not ideal. They are falling farther into a fallen world. The farther you fall, the tougher it is to come back.
There is probably some truth to that, but I'm not sure that it is a universal truth or the whole truth. Most of those who I know who have overcome didn't start using the word addiction to describe their behavior until well into their recovery. I do know that there are others who do ascribe their behavior to an addiction, but never really take the steps needed to overcome. I don't think that means they don't really have an addiction, but the truth is that until you have taken active steps towards recovery, then addiction is probably just the excuse they use to justify. I personally didn't start describing my own experience with pornography as an addiction until I was well into recovery.

Another example of a psychological diagnosis that is oft used as an excuse by some, and is routinely dismissed by those who actually suffer from it is PTSD. In my experience, those who are quickest to claim they have it are those who's experience just doesn't lend itself to that diagnosis, while those who are clearly struggling with it usually avoid the phrase to describe themselves. It took a long time for me to see it in myself, and that was only after recognizing it in others who were close to me. I am actually something of a cynic when someone starts claiming they suffer from it, because those who do are pretty tight lipped.

Alcoholism is another that follows that pattern. Someone who truly struggles rarely identifies as an alcoholic until they have taken some real steps towards recovery.

I don't think that is necessarily a big mystery. A common theme in all those cases is denial. I know it was for me. I absolutely could not be convinced by anyone else that I had a problem, until my eyes were opened to it, and then it was clear as day.

It does take a bit of discernment to know when someone is trying to excuse behavior, and it is probably those who have faced their own struggles that can most easily spot it.
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by Tractor »

Corey Allen who hosts Sexy Marriage Radio is a licensed therapist. I think he is LMFT. In one of his shows he expressed professional skepticism as to whether porn is truly an addiction. If I remember correctly it is not listed as such in the latest DSM although there is much controversy within the profession as to whether it should be in the DSM. He did mention that some of his skepticism was that several on the comittee to decide if it should be classified as an addiction actually own sexual addiction clinics.

Now over 35 years ago I was in sexaholics anonymous because I was acting out with porn, prostitutes, etc. Thankfully Jesus brought me out of that lifestyle, although at times I have been tempted and years ago for a brief time fell back into porn.

I have often struggled with reconciling biblical concepts with some psychological concepts- such as the biblical concept of being addicted to much wine and the psychological concept of alcohol addiction and whether that is a disease just like cancer or if it is a conscious sin issue.
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by LBD »

It can absolutely be an addiction. Doesn't mean it always is. Unlike meth, you can take a hit or more and not develop addiction. Many simply have a recurring habit. Can you walk away and not think about it for days? If not, then you need to assess your situation.

What's the signs of addiction?
Physical signs of withdrawal - check
Uncontrolled usage - check
Diminishing affects - check
Willing to risk for a hit - check
Unable to function without a hit - check
Causes negative results in life - check

Porn can illicit all of these. CAN, doesn't mean it always does for everybody.

You ever watch the TV documentary show "My Strange Addiction" ? Saw a lady who ate clay pots, another that chewed on diapers.
It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance. -Thomas Sowell
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Re: Is Porn An Addiction?

Post by PaulB »

Tractor wrote: Sun Jan 24, 2021 4:48 pm Corey Allen who hosts Sexy Marriage Radio is a licensed therapist. I think he is LMFT. In one of his shows, he expressed professional skepticism as to whether porn is truly an addiction. If I remember correctly it is not listed as such in the latest DSM although there is much controversy within the profession as to whether it should be in the DSM. He did mention that some of his skepticism was that several on the comittee to decide if it should be classified as an addiction actually own sexual addiction clinics.
Ah yes, sexual addiction is big money! And that has driven a lot of bad science. The APA did a great deal of study on it while working on the DSM–5, which was released in 2013. They concluded hard science didn't support the idea of porn or sexual addiction.

Yes, brain studies find SOME similarity to things that are addictive. But only some. And those those brain resoinces are also seen in how we react to a favourite food or the face of our spouse. Nicole Prause, CEO of a brain research company, says, "In the case of porn addictions, the brain looks similar to other addictions but only up to a point and then it diverges. When you look at porn, you get increases in learning and reward... but you don't see some of the other hallmarks". Even when you look at other non-chemical things like a gambling addiction, the brain changes from porn are not the same.

I've seen some suggest that a few folks might be truly addicted to porn or sex. But that a hypothesis no one has been able to support. It's a compulsion yes, but it's not a true addiction. A good way to look at this is to consider that if your spouse was addicted to drugs, saying "The next time you shoot up I will divorce you" would have no hope of getting them to stop. It might scare them into treatment, but they would not be able to walk away. OTOH, if you said "The next time you look at porn I will divorce you" (and they knew you meant it and knew they could not hide it) there is a good chance they would stop cold turkey. The addict can't stop that way.

My real problem with calling it an addiction is it gives people an excuse to keep doing it. It also gives their spouse a reason to keep tolerating it. Treating it as an addiction has done nothing to help people get free. Some suggest it's made things worse, and I agree with that.

I've long wondered why Christians were so willing to jump on the porn-is-an-addiction bandwagon. I think it's because we want the world to admit it's wrong and damaging. The truth we don't want to hear is this is not always, perhaps usually, the case. Lot's of people use porn and their spouse or SO knows and doesn't care. Many couples use it together and say it benefits their sex life. And most of these folks never suffer any observable problems from their porn use. Of course it's sin, and it certainly hurts them spiityally. If they know God it gets in the way of them living as they should, and if they don't it gets in the way of them coming to know them. That's horribly damaging, but it's not damage the world will acknowledge. I think we want it to be an addiction so we can tell the world it's wrong. We need to learn to be okay with God saying something is wrong and not having tangible proof that is true. It's called faith! :D

[/RANT]
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