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The desire to engage in Porn (notice I said engage) is a byproduct of the survival brain much as is a substance use disorder. The reason for this is the release of powerful ENDORPHINS which are released even as one is watching the images. The endorphins create pleasure which is part of the brain's survival mechanism. Evolutionary chemicals like endorphins act to reinforce the desire to eat food (self-sustaining nourishment) and have sexual relations (procreate). This is all in accordance with nature. If procreating wasn't fun...why bother. 

The problem with porn is that its reinforcement creates significant emotional and relational problems for an individual. Spouses generally feel that they cannot "compete" with the images and can't believe their loved one would rather spend time on a porn site than with them. It use to be thought that women were the ones being exploited by porn producers but the neurobiology of men is such that they tend to be more visually"hard-wired," therefore gravitating toward "images" more so than women who tend to be more auditory and tactile wired. The end result being that men, especially their wallets, are exploited by porn producers too. This, and the fact that both children and  illegal human trafficking of women are involved in the production of porn, make the exploitation by porn producers much broader than originally believed. Some men will spend hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars per year engaging in porn activity which generally includes allowing sexual tension to mount only to be released by masturbating. Once the endorphins are released, the cycle begins to repeat itself ad infinitum. This ever-spiraling cycle can produce in its wake feelings of shame, guilt, remorse and promises to oneself that they will quit, only to return. In addition, porn use has led to other behaviors that directly affect the integrity of the marriage or relationship which include emotional texting, sexting, and affairs as well as sexual abuse offenses. Those who engage porn on a regular basis may also experience erectile issues when engaging in sexual intercourse with their partners largely due to the intrusion of pornographic images.

Movement beyond porn can only begin when one accepts responsibility for their behavior and not extend blame on to someone or something else. For many years I have been treating porn use with a multi-faceted approach using psycho-educational strategies as well as interruption and distraction techniques with positive success. Relationships can be repaired and the cycle of porn use can be interrupted and come to an end. If you or a loved one would like to consider ending this destructive cycle please call me for an appointment to discuss treatment options.


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