Pornography Articles

Don Jon and Porn Addiction: A Hit and Miss Portrayal

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013
Publicity photo courtesy of http://donjonmovie.tumblr.com/

Publicity photo courtesy of http://donjonmovie.tumblr.com/

CAUTION: Don Jon may be highly triggering for sex and porn addicts. Those recovering from sex and porn addiction should view this film with caution, perhaps bookending the movie with calls to a sponsor or another supportive person in recovery.

The Flick

The late-summer/early-fall film season has presented moviegoers with not one but two sex addiction themed, A-list cast, wide-release offerings. First there was Thanks for Sharing, glowingly reviewed in my previous Psych Central blog. Now we have Don Jon, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson. The fact that the silver screen has finally turned its attention to sexual compulsivity is very exciting, even more so after Thanks for Sharing so truthfully depicted the trails, tribulations, and joys of sex addiction recovery. Unfortunately, Don Jon, a story of porn addiction, is a mixed bag in terms of accuracy. It gets quite a lot correct, most notably it’s portrayal of active porn addiction, but it misleads – badly – in terms of healing from this disorder.


Pants Down in the Workplace

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Pants Down in the WorkplaceDarn those I.T. People…

Robert, a 35-year-old married father of two kids, first phoned me in a panic. He told me he’d been called into his supervisor’s office, along with his firm’s head of human resources, to discuss his “inappropriate use” of a company-owned laptop and smartphone. Both devices had gone in for routine maintenance, with the I.T. department checking for viruses, worms, and the like, and as that work was being done hundreds of pornographic images and videos were found on both the phone and his computer. And this was not the first time Robert had been confronted about misusing company devices. Two years earlier an extensive amount of porn had been found on his laptop, and back then he was both verbally reprimanded and reminded (in writing) of the firm’s “business only” usage policy. Robert and his supervisor had laughed it off as an episode of “boys being boys.” However, his boss had told him very clearly that if it happened again it would definitely be an issue – one that could potentially affect his future with the company. “So anyway,” Robert told me, “they say I have to go into counseling if I want to keep my job.”


The Prevalence of Porn

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The Prevalence of PornAmericans Gone Wild

There seems to be a lot of media fear-mongering about online porn, citing a wide range of statistics on usage. To listen to some, you’d think that everyone and his grandmother is online 24/7 engaging in digitally driven self-pleasure. Interestingly, both the porn industry and anti-porn activists have a tendency to cite the most inflated numbers they can find to make their particular point. The sex industry does this so they can charge more for advertisements, while anti-porn types do this to point out our moral flaws and the all-pervasive nature of this supposed problem. That said, there are some relatively reliable statistics on porn usage.


Men, Women, and Sexual Objectification

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Mars and Venus

Men and women typically experience sex – both fantasy and reality – in different ways. It has long been known that when it comes to sex men tend to be visually oriented, whereas women tend to be more interested in a connection or relationship. Basically, when a man sexually admires a woman, he is usually focused on certain body parts and their potential use for him (as sexual objects). When viewing pornography, for instance, males are typically most aroused by a rapid-fire succession of images depicting concrete sexual acts and/or specific sexual body parts. Females on the other hand tend to be most aroused by sexual imagery that includes or at least infers some type of emotional connection.


Teenagers, Porn and Sexual Addiction: What’s the Problem?

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A Whole New World

When I was a teenager, finding and looking at porn took work. In order to find some naked pictures, either I or one of my friends would have to locate and surreptitiously raid one of our dads’ stashes of Playboy magazines, rely on someone who’d inherited a magazine from his older brother, or raid a magazine from the local gas station.

Once in a while, if we were very lucky, one of us would find some old porn in a neighbor’s trash can or in a dumpster. Basically, our options were extremely limited, and we mostly played sneak-a-peek with whatever sexy pictures we could find.

A mere twenty-five years ago, the chances of a suburban teenager getting hooked on porn were roughly equivalent to that same kid getting hooked on heroin—close to zero. For the most part, our lack of access to pornography (and heroin, for that matter) prevented addiction.

Those days are long gone. In the Internet age, hardcore pornography is widely and instantly accessible to anyone who goes looking for it, and even to people who aren’t looking for it. (The number of seemingly benign words you can type into Internet search engines that bring up porn is actually kind of shocking).

If a teenaged boy or girl is curious about sex today —and most are—all they need to do is find a porn site, click a button that says “Yes I’m 18,” and they’re in. He or she doesn’t have to flash a driver’s license as proof of age or even borrow a parent’s credit card to pay for anything. Pornography of every ilk imaginable is now ubiquitous, accessible 24/7 from any smartphone or laptop, and more often than not it’s free.


The 12 Steps as Therapeutic Tasks for Sexual Addiction Recovery (Continued): Steps 4 through 9

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Stepping It Up in Treatment

Sex addicts, like many in early addiction recovery, are often highly resistant to the idea of attending 12-step recovery meetings. Their reasons are myriad and usually without merit, though they sure can sound convincing on first listen.

Basically, it boils down to this: individuals who hang out in adult bookstores, cruise local red light districts looking for prostitutes, download hard-core pornography on work computers and masturbate in their office during business hours, post hi-definition photographs of their exposed genitalia on dating websites, and openly announce their extramarital availability on Ashley Madison (with a face photo but without a second thought) are the same folks who become very concerned about being “spotted” at one of “those” meetings.

“What if someone sees me there and thinks I’m a pervert?” they fret. Never mind the fact that these meetings usually take place in churches, school classrooms and local businesses after hours with no neon signs announcing what’s going on. Resistance to change is what it is, and even though sex addicts invite risk when acting out, they are risk averse in terms of being seen in 12-step sexual recovery meetings like SAA, SLAA, SCA, SA, and SRA.

It is therefore up to the addiction therapist, when working with a 12-step-averse client, to bring the themes, neurobiological rewiring, and experience of 12-step recovery into the treatment arena—especially in a group therapy setting. Once the sexual behavior problem has been clearly assessed and client/treatment goals and expectations aligned, sex addiction treatment is well served by the therapist initiating discussions on themes like surrender, feeling out-of-control/powerlessness, developing personal integrity, asking for help, accepting responsibility, turning it over, establishing accountability, etc., all within the framework of cognitive behavioral treatment.


When Even a Little is Too Much: How to Block Online Porn and Sexual Content

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Tech-Connect: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

For many of us, digital information gathering and online interaction have become integrated into our daily routine from the first multitasking moments. We check email, tweet and text, update Facebook, and simultaneously peruse “newspapers” from all over the globe, all while draining the morning coffee. And we do all of this on faster, more sophisticated, more portable and affordable electronic devices than ever before.

This incredible array of sophisticated interconnectivity provides endless new opportunities to support our very traditional human needs for community and social interaction. Innovations like Facebook, with over 500 million users, and Twitter, with over 300 million users, offer real-time interactions with an increasingly wider and more diverse group of people.

Friends and family who may have been too distant for regular contact just a few years ago can now be intimately folded into our lives. For partners, spouses and families separated for long periods of time by work or military service, the tech-connect boom is a godsend. Couples are now able to bond long-distance in real time, share a growing child’s latest milestone, and even engage in visual intimacy via the webcams now routinely incorporated into computers and smart-phones.

Those not yet in a committed relationship can put technology to good use when home or traveling via e-dating—establishing and growing budding relationships with a decreasing focus on who lives where. We make friends, we share and grow from our experiences, we celebrate, and we commiserate—one world, a growing interactive community.

One downside of the tech-connect boom is that whenever human access to intensely pleasurable and arousing substances, like cocaine and crystal meth, previously rare treats, like refined sugar and sweets (now on sale at every gas station), or experiences, like gambling and sex, is increased, the potential for impulsivity, compulsivity, and addiction rears its ugly head.


Compulsive Masturbation: The Secret Sexual Disorder

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Will I Go Blind?

Of all the types of sexual acting out, compulsive masturbation, with or without pornography, is the most secretive and isolating—and also the most common (in both men and women). Because many individuals view sexual self-stimulation as shameful, dirty, or sinful, those who engage in the practice compulsively are unlikely to discuss it with others, even a therapist.

If and when a compulsive masturbator does seek help, he or she is unlikely to do so for his/her sexual acting out. Instead, that individual is far more likely to report anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and the inability (or lack of desire) to form intimate relationships with other people.

Some people who masturbate compulsively do so as part of their daily routine. These are “morning, noon and night” people who masturbate on a regular schedule, almost like clockwork—when they wake up, before they go to bed, when they’re in a particular place, when some “thing” happens, or when they experience a certain (usually uncomfortable) feeling.

Other individuals are binge masturbators, “losing themselves” for hours or even days at a time, sometimes continuing to masturbate even after physically injuring their genitalia. Binge masturbation is occasionally accompanied by illicit drug use, usually stimulants like cocaine or crystal meth.

Binge masturbators can lock themselves in their home or a motel room for days on end, losing all track of time and life in the real world.


Sexual Dysfunction: The Escalating Price of Abusing Porn

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Mark’s Story

Mark is a married, 35-year-old realtor. His wife, Janet, is a pharmaceutical sales rep who spends several days each week on the road. Both report that their sex life was great until just a few years ago, and Mark is not sure what happened. He used to look forward to the days Janet was home because he knew the first thing they were going to do was hop in bed and make passionate love. Even after the birth of their first child, the two always made time late evenings and weekend mornings for lovemaking. But no longer. These days when being sexual with Janet, Mark struggles to reach orgasm. He’s even started faking orgasms, just to get things over with. What Mark can’t understand is why he’s ready, willing, and able when he logs on to his favorite porn sites—something he does regularly when Janet is on the road—but he can’t function when he’s got the real thing right there in front of him. Mark is quite clear in saying he is not “bored” with his wife, and he continues to find her “sexy, exciting, and arousing.”

Is Porn Ruining Sex?

Mark is suffering from Delayed Ejaculation (DE), a problem that is more common than most people realize. Symptoms of DE include: taking longer than normal to reach orgasm; only being able to reach orgasm via masturbation; and not being able to reach orgasm at all. At first Mark didn’t mind because “lasting longer” is generally viewed as a sign of virility. He chalked it up to maturing as a lover, thinking he was now better at pleasing Janet. Unfortunately, as he and many others have discovered, there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

As with all sexual dysfunctions, there are numerous possible causes of DE, including: physical illness/impairment; the use of SSRI-based antidepressants, which are known to delay and in many cases eliminate orgasm; psychological factors with stressors like financial worries or family dysfunction—all of which can mentally distract men during intercourse. But one increasingly documented cause of both delayed ejaculation and erectile dysfunction is an over-involvement with—for some, addiction to—pornography and masturbation as a primary sexual outlet. This seems the most likely culprit for otherwise healthy men in the prime of life such as Mark.


How Much Porn is Too Much Porn?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Prior to 1994, if you wanted to view pornography, you had to get dressed, get in your car, drive to a seedy shop in a bad part of town, and fork over hard-earned cash for an overpriced magazine – all the while hoping not to be seen by the neighbor’s teenage kid, your boss, the police, or your spouse.

Today, thanks to streaming video over the Internet and smart-phones, finding porn doesn’t even require getting out of bed. In the digital age, access to stimulating sexual imagery of every ilk imaginable is virtually unlimited – easily and instantly downloaded. And most often it’s free.

For the average person, porn provides a quick and convenient means to a pleasurable end, typically turned to when an emotional or a close physical connection is either not available or not desired. However, current research tells us that for approximately 5 to 8 percent of the adult population, porn use can evolve into an addictive behavior, quickly escalating from a pleasurable distraction to a behavioral compulsion that leads to depression, isolation, loneliness, shame, and negative life consequences.


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