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    Porn 'Addiction' Is Made Up
    By News Staff | February 12th 2014 04:05 PM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    If there is a sociological fad, trend or fashion and it catches the attention of the public, you can be sure someone will start doing weak observational studies and get published in journals.

    Almost anything can be termed an 'addiction' if people do it too much; checking their email, playing Risk or even watching porn. Because addiction is considered physical, the term connotes legitimacy and that means it will have to be covered under insurance. It's a huge windfall if a successful new disease can be manufactured.

    Of course, it makes psychology look bad when new conditions for more and more obscure things get created. Not everyone in psychology likes when that happens. David Ley, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Albuquerque, did a review of studies in Current Sexual Health Reports
    and found no evidence that pornography addiction actually exists, outside media claims and some psychologists looking to get in newspaper articles and then surveys correlated to population statistics looking to support it.

    The recently revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual  (DSM-5) had so many symptom-based conditions the National Institute of Mental Health refuses to use it, writing "The weakness is its lack of validity. Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure." Yet even they don't include pornography addiction because it lacks even sociological data.

    Ley finds that fewer than two in every five research articles (37 percent) about high frequency sexual behavior describe it as being an addiction. Only 27 percent (13 of 49) of articles on the subject contained actual data, while only one related psychophysiological study appeared in 2013. Ley's review article highlights the poor experimental designs, methodological rigor and lack of model specification of most studies surrounding it.

    The research actually found very little evidence – if any at all – to support some of the purported negative side effects of porn "addiction." There was no sign that use of pornography is connected to erectile dysfunction, or that it causes any changes to the brains of users. Also, despite great furor over the effects of childhood exposure to pornography, the use of sexually explicit material explains very little of the variance in adolescents' behaviors. These are better explained and predicted by other individual and family variables.

    Instead, Ley and his team believe that the positive benefits attached to viewing such images do not make it problematic de facto. It can improve attitudes towards sexuality, increase the quality of life and variety of sexual behaviors and increase pleasure in long-term relationships. It provides a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors or desires, and its consumption or availability has been associated with a decrease in sex offenses, especially child molestation.

    Clinicians should be aware that people reporting "addiction" are likely to be male, have a non-heterosexual orientation, have a high libido, tend towards sensation seeking and have religious values that conflict with their sexual behavior and desires. They may be using visually stimulating images to cope with negative emotional states or decreased life satisfaction.

    "We need better methods to help people who struggle with the high frequency use of visual sexual stimuli, without pathologizing them or their use thereof," writes Ley, who is critical about the pseudoscientific yet lucrative practices surrounding the treatment of so-called porn addiction. "Rather than helping patients who may struggle to control viewing images of a sexual nature, the 'porn addiction' concept instead seems to feed an industry with secondary gain from the acceptance of the idea." 


    Comments

    Hank
    He claims it is an Internet addiction, which is just as made up.

    I love his disclaimer "This article is a short synopsis of some key concepts. For the science behind it, please follow all the links. Some links go to our articles, which in turn link to studies" which translates to 'I found one which matches my belief so I surrounded it with a bunch of other stuff'.

    He should do a critical examination of fMRI studies - but then he would have nothing to write about.
    Omar Chedda

    It's hard to know what is truly scientific in popular science sites, without being an expert in the field.

    A useful guide I think is common sense (often not always).

    It would be helpful to know if any changes to the brain can result from psychological states. 

    Omar Chedda
    By common sense, I mean logical thinking not prejudicial thinking.