The Psychology Of Watching Porn: How Is It An Addiction?

man with increased libido from Progentra us watching porn on phone while reaching inside pants

The Psychology Of Watching Porn: How Is It An Addiction?

In the dictionary definition of pornography, two elements are present. First, there is erotic behavior depicted, regardless of whether it’s in words or graphics. Secondly, the purpose is to cause sexual excitement. That may be the purpose of porn but even up to now that we’re already in the age of digital technology and no longer in the Victorian era, the debate about watching pornography still goes on.

 

Or rather, especially now that we’re in the digital technology age. Because there’s internet pornography now. And experts are saying that it’s an addiction, much like alcohol or substance abuse is an addiction. So, how is watching pornography an addiction?

According to scientific studies, watching porn triggers your brain to activate feelings of reward and pleasure, which should be healthy. However, when you watch too much internet porn and you do it all the time, your brain gets rewired – your brain may react to the pornographic material the same way as drug addicts do when shown pictures of cocaine or heroin. And this is when things get really problematic.

There are many arguments for and against porn, but to say that watching internet pornography is an addiction is a novel thing. Let’s take a look at what a 2015 study has to say about the matter.

 

Behaviors are also addictions.

The old school view of addiction was focused merely on substance abuse. As of 2011, however, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has revised its definition of addiction. According to the organization, addiction is a disease characterized by an individual’s pursuit of the feeling of reward and/or relief by using substances or manifesting certain behaviors – such as watching internet pornography. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) may also move in the same direction, with a sub-chapter created in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for addiction disorders that are non-substance related.

 

Brain maps for sexual excitement.

man with increased libido from Progentra us watching porn onlineThe purpose of pornography is to cause sexual excitement and as an individual experiences this and continually and chronically watches porn on the internet, dopamine is also continually released into the brain’s system for motivation and rewards. This then creates a map in the brain for sexual excitement.

 

Brain maps for natural sexual excitement cannot compare.

Unfortunately, because the brain map for sexual excitement created when an individual regularly watches internet porn are more consistently reinforced, the brain maps for natural sexual stimulation pale in comparison. This means that if you watch internet porn more regularly than you engage in physical sex with a partner, your brain gets trained to feel more rewarded with porn than with actual sex. This is the part that can cause a lot of trouble later on, like when a physical partner can no longer sexually excite you because your brain is looking for porn stimulation instead.

 

Watching internet porn and drug addiction light up the same brain areas.

One neuroimaging study showed that in people with compulsive sexual behaviors, watching internet pornography triggered the same regions in the brain that are also activated when substance addicted individuals are shown drugs or alcohol. Their conclusion was that the neural networks for pathological use of substances and pathological consumption of natural rewards, such as the pleasure derived from sex or watching internet pornography, may actually overlap. This bolsters the argument that watching internet pornography can be an addictive behavior.

 

The more you watch porn, the more it excites you.

In a study involving men who were shown visual sexual stimulation, as in porn, it was revealed that those who watched porn for two or more hours per week felt more sexually aroused while watching porn. The researchers even went so far as to suggest that watching visual sexual stimuli may be able to improve erectile functioning because it could prime the brain for sexual thoughts, which, in turn, could eventually lead to better sexual response.

 

Still pictures don’t work anymore.

People who watch internet pornography more and for longer or who may be considered as internet pornography addicts are less sexually aroused by still sexual images. Those who consume a lot of internet pornography may already be desensitized to less explicit graphics and are instead looking for more explicit sex videos. Researchers suggest that this could become a tool for identifying internet pornography addiction. If you no longer feel sexually excited just by looking at a sexually explicit photograph, or if you feel that it’s no longer enough to arouse you, you may be at risk of being an internet porn addict.

 

Internet pornography more arousing than real partners.

man distracted by online porn ignoring wifeIn people who are addicted to internet pornography, more than half experience difficulty in achieving an erection or getting sexually aroused by a real partner. This is not necessarily a symptom of erectile dysfunction, but more of a psychological or neural problem. However, if it’s already causing distress and relationship problems, it would be wise to seek expert help to prevent it from becoming a full-blown sexual dysfunction later on.

 

Excessive consumption of internet pornography is associated with hypersexuality.

The condition is sometimes called sexual addiction or hypersexuality disorder and is characterized by being excessively preoccupied with anything to do with sex, such as fantasies, urges, or behaviors, so much so that it already causes distress, is no longer controllable, and already has negative impacts to aspects of your daily life. Unfortunately, in a study on hypersexuality, it was found that more than 80% of hypersexual individuals watch internet porn excessively.

Watching pornographic materials elicit both positive and negative outcomes. However, as with anything else, too much of something not always good, and the same goes true for watching internet pornography excessively.

Unfortunately, the positive effects of porn watching are not often studied by researchers, so the negative effects of pornography are often the ones being highlighted, which adds to the negative reputation of porn. This doesn’t mean that you should stop watching porn now. But just to be on the safe side, just make sure you do it in moderation.