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Porn, Sex Addiction and the Danger of Smart Phones

  1. When you consider the causes of porn and sex addiction, you may think first of adverse childhood experiences.  And you would be right.  The prime suspects are:
  • Early attachment injury such as lack of nurturing, emotional neglect/abuse,
  • Sexual abuse by an adult or older child, or an inappropriate or seductive caregiver
  • Abandonment, alcoholism or mental illness in a parent, etc.

Such factors are thought to lead to sex and porn addiction as well as addiction in general.  Trauma leads a child to develop coping mechanisms by which to escape the intolerable stress, fear, and other negative emotions.  Similarly, the child may develop secret or devious ways to self-soothe or escape feelings of shame or low self worth.  These then follow on into adulthood as so-called “survival skills that no longer serve”.

How smart phones Promote Sex and Porn Addiction

Well first there’s the obvious sense in which a pornified culture throws out sexual images all over the place including online.  The porn industry then fine tunes the click bait so as to keep the viewer mesmerized.

But in addition, a recent LA Times article called “A Holiday From Your Cellphone” quoted a psychologist who studies internet addiction as follows:

“When we’re on our devices, we lose the ability to mark the passage of time,” says David Greenfield, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology  Addiction. “This phenomenon is called dissociation, and virtually everyone  experiences it to some extent when on screens.”

So our smart phones and time spent online generally represent a whole other form of risk.  Getting lost in your smart phone enables Internet addiction, and sexual compulsivity by promoting a dissociative state. 

In a previous post I discussed the relationship between ADHD and porn addiction and in another I outlined what I thought was the way in which the dissociative reactions to trauma may be diagnosed as ADHD when they are not.  The inattentiveness, distractibility and “zoning out” may be the dissociative reactions typical in trauma.

Time spent being “absent” from our own life can lead to isolation and depression.  Dissociating in this way is amplified a hundredfold when there is a sexual fantasy, sexual gratification or sexual arousal involved. This means you can escape painful emotions and social anxiety, but at the cost of not being present in your own life.

Normal vs. abnormal dissociation

Dissociation is a normal defensive reaction to traumatic stress.  It is a way we protect ourselves by mentally detaching from an extreme situation.  In addiction, repeated use of dissociation as an escape from feelings of pain, fear, inadequacy, or loneliness creates a dependence on the means of escape.  This is then experienced as craving, need to increase the amount and potency of the substance or experience, and symptoms of withdrawal with abstinence.

When the escape into tech involves porn, masturbation, cybersex and any sexually arousing material, the dissociative experience becomes many times more compelling due to the powerful sexual reward involved.  It is escape on steroids!

Many sex addicts use flip phones

Tech addiction has become a focus of concern and treatment both in clinical settings and in 12 step programs.  But sex and porn addicts can be cross addicted to tech.  When in treatment, they are often advised to give up smart phones and to find ways to block sexual material on their other devices.  Sometimes they stay offline entirely or only go online with another person present to ensure accountability.

Addicts must ask themselves whether they are beginning to abdicate from important aspects of their lives.  Are they losing productivity, missing meaningful life experiences, becoming socially isolated, sacrificing intimate relationships?

Often it is easy for addicts to minimize the impact of their online life.  It seems all but impossible to unplug.  And sometimes it is a serious challenge to handle the necessary online life at work.  The internet, with all its addictive potential has become entwined with every aspect of our lives.  But its awesome power forces some of us to make some very hard choices.

Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource and at www.sexaddictionscounseling.com

Check out Dr. Hatch’s books:

“Living with a Sex Addict: The Basics from Crisis to Recovery” and

“Relationships in Recovery: A Guide for Sex Addicts who are Starting Over”

Porn, Sex Addiction and the Danger of Smart Phones


Linda Hatch, PhD

Linda Hatch is a psychologist and certified sex addiction therapist specializing in the treatment of sex addicts and the partners and families of sex addicts. Linda also blogs on her own website at Sexaddictionscounseling.com


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APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2018). Porn, Sex Addiction and the Danger of Smart Phones. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2018/12/porn-sex-addiction-and-the-danger-of-smart-phones/

 

Last updated: 31 Dec 2018
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