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Your Porn Session Could Be An Addiction & This Psychologist Explains How To Fix It

5,517,000,000 hours of porn was consumed in 2018 alone…on one site.

If you didn’t give a toss before you might need to now. Porn addiction is a growing issue amongst today’s men. At worst, it can ruin your relationships, your career and mess with your moral compass.

It’s prolific too, if you believe the stats. According to a 2017 report from the Huffington Post, porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined per month. And the hours we spend watching porn? Pornhub Analytics pegged it at 5,517,000,000 hours in 2018 alone for visitors to their site. In other words it’s increasing.

Last year we had the chance to explore porn addiction with Channel 10’s relationship manager, Samantha Jayne. This time we’re taking a more psychological approach (signs, triggers and consequences) with the help of psychologist Luke Vu who specialises in pornography and internet addiction.

“The youth of today and tomorrow’s men will have learn to self-manage their porn use given that virtual reality porn is quickly becoming more accessible.”

Why Porn Addiction Is A Real Issue

For the most part, porn addiction has been the by-product of the internet and isn’t hereditary in nature. Vu says that the increase in problematic online pornography is overwhelmingly due to technology.

“Its free, it’s easily accessible and there’s the whole notion of ‘no-one knows you’re using it’,” he explains. This endless novelty and the freedom to explore with a mouse click is the reason why so many men have become dependent on porn for arousal.

“Porn in the 1990s and early 2000s were more pragmatically difficult to get – you’d have to go to a video store or purchase a DVD – and this meant that you’d need to manage your urges for sexual novelty.”

These days it’s obvious to see how technology has changed the way society consumes content and pornography, but Vu says there’s an even bigger predicament on the horizon.

“I think the youth of today and tomorrow’s men will have learn to self-manage their porn use given that virtual reality (VR) porn is quickly becoming more accessible.”

How Do You Know You’re Addicted To Porn?

Vu explains that ‘addiction’ can often mean different things to the public and a psychologist. “To be diagnosed with an addiction requires a formal assessment by mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. It’s also controversial because it is still an active area of research.”

Nonetheless, these are four of the most common signs that you could be addicted to pornography:

  • You repeatedly fail at your attempts to control your porn use
  • You regularly use more porn (or more intense porn) than intended
  • You use porn as a means of avoiding negative emotions or problems
  • Your porn use is interfering with your daily life i.e. work, study,
    relationships and health

If you answered ‘yes’ to a few of these, it might be worth talking to a mental health professional.

Why Is It Difficult To Control Porn Addiction?

It’s as simple as pressing ‘stop’ and turning off your screen isn’t it? Not quite.

“Porn is a supernormal stimulus. It’s a stimulus that elicits a response stronger than what humans were evolutionarily prepared for. The endless variety of sexual partners, sexual acts and its connection to our primal urges strongly recruit our reward systems and motivates use,” explains Vu.

And then there’s accessibility. These days porn is free, endless and on-demand, meaning there’s more opportunities to slip back into old habits even when trying to stop. The last reason is that porn is enjoyable to consume. It allows users to indulge in their sexual fantasies and the idea of giving that up is therefore often pretty difficult.

What Happens If You Leave It Untreated?

Like any problem that’s left untreated it can get worse. Those using porn excessively could be neglecting their own personal relationships as they’re supplementing a genuine connection for a sexual one. This neglect then leads to relationship breakdowns or divorce.

On the career front, Vu says it can affect your work performance if you’re spending countless hours and nights in search of the “perfect” porn clip – getting fired for porn addiction is very real these days. The other side is that excessive porn use has some unique consequences. For some, their sexual interests change. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but it can be bad. Vu says you could find yourself seeking out porn that doesn’t align with your values or worse, that’s considered illegal.

Most Dangerous Trends In Porn Addiction

One of the most worrying trends of porn addiction is the detachment to the real world. Patients may experience difficulty with being aroused psychologically and physically with their real life sexual encounters – a condition often referred to as Pornography Induced Erectile Dysfunction.

“Sometimes sexual dysfunction is due to anxiety and constant mental comparison with the porn they’ve consumed. For others it’s due to the chronic desensitisation from aggressive masturbation techniques – colloquially known as ‘death-grip syndrome’.”

One of the most concerning trends is when porn habits escalate into mixing the arousal of sex with ‘taboo’ subjects. “Some clients are disgusted and distressed at themselves after reflecting on what they’ve consumed.”

How To Train Your Brain To Stop Watching Porn

Recovery from porn addiction is always possible according to Vu. “Brain patterns are changeable and you can always break old habits and form new and healthier habits,” he says.

Those concerned about their porn habits can use these steps to curb consumption.

  • Monitor your use – especially if it exceeds a few hours and you begin watching it at work or during breaks
  • Understand your use and the reasons why you shouldn’t be using it
  • Assess what is your reasonable/manageable amount
  • Be deliberate with your use – set a time, set safe categories and define what the red
    flags are
  • Accept and learn to deal with urges as you attempt to cut down – think about the consequences or use distractions like sports or other hobbies to replace porn

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