Monday, February 2, 2009



Investigating the Effects of Pornography on the Psyche and Relationships

The other evening a female friend and I were having a conversation about pornography. She admitted to me that she feels that it's best for a man in a committed relationship to abstain from the use of pornography, as it may hinder his ability to get off by regular, conventional means. This really got me thinking. How does a man's use of pornography interfere with his intimate relationships? During sexual intercourse, does he require pornographic thoughts and memories to successfully get off? Can the use of pornography help or hurt physical relationships?
So, I set off and did a bit of research. I unconvered the following statistics:

*The pornography industry is larger than the revenue of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix, EarthLink

*25% of the total number of internet sex engine requests are pornographic in nature

*42.7% of internet users view pornography online

*Hollywood release 20 times more adult movies than mainstream productions

*87% of university students admit to having sex over webcams, instant messenger, and the telephone

*17% of all women struggle with porn addiction

*42% of adults admit to feeling less attractive due to their partner's use of pornography

*47% of adults say that pornography has become a problem in their home

*60% of all websites visited daily are pornographic in nature

*70% percent of Christians admit to struggling with porn in their daily lives

After looking at these numbers it is easy to conclude that the majority of men, and quite a few women, access internet pornography on a regular basis. Is this considered normal? How much is too much? When does curiosity become an obsession?

We are all aware that masturbation is a very healthy practice, physiologically and psychologically. There is nothing wrong with having fantasies, so as long as these fantasies don't manifest into a harmful reality. But what effect does over-exposure to pornographic material have on us?

Porn addiction has become an epidemic lately, similiar to drug-abuse and alcoholism. Many experts are in debate over this subject, saying that this problem is a compulsion rather than an addiction. Common signs of porn addiction/compulsion include:

1. An inability to stop the behaviors and porn use despite previous attemts to do do

2. Anger or irritability if caught or asked to stop

3. Hiding or attempting to keep secret either part, or all, of the porn use

4. Continuing the behavior despite obvious consequence, such as a relationship loss or job loss

5. Getting lost in the porn use, spending more time than intended looking at pornographic images, videos, etc.

Of course there are more serious effects of the overuse of porn for those already possessing mental disorders with a gravitation towards promiscuity, abuse, etc. Sexual therapists and psychologists have defined the following five stages of pornographic addiction:

1. DISCOVERY: This happens by accident or curiosity. This stage usually refers to initial exposure, rather than over a prolonged exposure of time. The thrill and arousal is viewed as a rush because the event represents entering an area that is taboo, forbidden, or simply sensually arousing.

2. EXPLORATION/EXPERIMENTATION: This is the stage where the person rationalizes exploring or experimenting with the material. Usually this is accompanied with masturbation.

3. DENSENSITIZATION: At this stage what was once seen as shocking, becomes either normal to the viewer, or even mundane, setting the stage for escalation.

4. ESCALATION: During the stage, the material becomes rougher and more explicit. Kinkier and more shocking material is needed to achieve the same rush that was discovered in Stage 1.

5. PERFORMANCE: The person will begin to reinact the sexual behaviors he or she may have seen depicted in the pornography. In some cases, they will perform these with their partner, or if married, look for a partner outside of the marriage.

Just to set things straight, I'd like to state that enjoying pornographic material will not turn you into a sexual deviant. Pornographic addiction is a form of sexual addiction, and does not effect everyone.

I'll be the first to admit that I love pornography, like so many other males do. I have a collection, and a number of websites that I visit on a regular basis. I don't feel that I am self-medicating in anyway through pornographic use, or that I am using it to substitue any type of regular sexual practice. I've always been very open and honest about it with my sexual partners, and feel that it can even add some excitement into the bedroom.

But, what are the boundaries of being able to safely enjoy it? How can it destroy or harm relationships? In your own opinion, is regular use of pornography a healthy or dangerous practice? I'm really interested in hearing some feedback on this topic. So, I impose upon you the following questions:

1. Do you mind if your partner views pornographic materials?

2. How much time spent looking a pornography is considered too much?

3. Have you ever caught your partner in the act of looking at adult materials? How did you react?

4. How would you react if you caught your lover viewing gay pornography, or pornographic materials outside of his/her assumed sexual orientation?

5. Do you consider cybersex/phonesex to be the same as infideltiy?

6. Do you believe that pornography can be appreciated as a couple, thus adding spice to intimate relationships?

7. Are you morally opposed, seeing the use of pornography as either sinful, or immoral?

I appreciate your feedback on this one peeps!

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