Pornography addiction

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Pornography addiction has been described as a behavioral addiction characterized by compulsive, repeated use of pornographic material until it causes serious negative consequences to one's physical, mental, social, and/or financial well-being.[1][2] However, the existence of porn addiction has been hotly contested by scientists and clinicians.[3] Addiction to Internet pornography is also a form of cybersex addiction.[4] There is no diagnosis of pornography addiction in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).[5]

Problematic Internet pornography viewing is viewing of Internet pornography that is problematic for an individual for personal, or social reasons, or reasons such as time spent viewing or viewing in problematic situations. Individuals may report depression, social isolation, career loss or decreased productivity, and financial consequences as a result of their problematic Internet pornography viewing.[6]


Most studies of prevalence use a convenience sample. The only estimates based on a nationally-representative sample place problems with this behavior around .5% of the population.[3] One of the studies of a convenience sample suggested that 17% of people who viewed pornography on the Internet met criteria for problematic[clarification needed] sexual compulsivity.[7] A survey found that 20–60% of a sample of college-age males who use pornography found it to be problematic.[8] Research on Internet addiction disorder indicates rates may range from 1.5 to 8.2% in Europeans and Americans.[9] Internet pornography users are included in Internet users, and Internet pornography has been shown to be the Internet activity most likely to lead to compulsive disorders.[10]

Status as addiction[edit]

External video
Nicole Prause, Ph.D. (sexual physiologist). [1] CBS (July 18, 2013)
Debra Herbenick, Ph.D. (sexuality educator). [2] Katie Couric Show
Further information: Behavioral addiction

The status of addiction to visual sexual stimuli is strongly contested.[3] The current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes a new section for behavioral addictions, but includes only one disorder: pathological gambling. Other behavioral addictions were included in "Conditions for further study".[11] Porn addiction is not currently a diagnosis and was specifically rejected from the most recent revision of the DSM.[12] Psychiatrists cited a lack of research support for refusing to include it at this time.[12]

In 2011, the American Society of Addiction Medicine published a definition of addiction that for the first time stated that addiction includes pathological pursuit of all kinds of external rewards and not just substance dependence.[13] This definition is very controversial, as it is thought to represent overly broad descriptions. It does not explicitly include porn addiction. Instead ASAM uses the phrase, "sexual behavior addiction".

The status of pornography addiction as an addictive disorder, rather than simply a compulsivity, remains hotly contested, particularly by neuroscientists.[14]

However, Dr. Richard Krueger, DSM-5 work-group member (Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders) and associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, has said that he has little doubt that porn addiction is real and will eventually garner enough attention to be recognized as a mental illness by the DSM.[15] Krueger also stated "most people would do it and it won’t become a problem" and recognized that there is yet no academic evidence for considering it a mental disorder.[15]

Symptoms and diagnosis[edit]

Accepted diagnostic criteria do not exist for pornography addiction or problematic pornography viewing.[6] The only diagnostic criteria for a behavioral addiction in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are for pathological gambling, and they are similar to those for substance abuse and dependence, such as preoccupation with the behavior, diminished ability to control the behavior, tolerance, withdrawal, and adverse psychosocial consequences. Diagnostic criteria have been proposed for other behavioral addictions, and these are usually also based on established diagnoses for substance abuse and dependence.[16]

A proposed diagnosis for hypersexual disorder includes pornography as a sub-type of this disorder. It included such criteria as time consumed by sexual activity interfering with obligations, repetitive engagement in sexual activity in response to stress, repeated failed attempts to reduce these behaviors, and distress or impairment of life functioning.[17] A study on problematic Internet pornography viewing used the criteria of viewing Internet pornography more than three times a week during some weeks, and viewing causing difficulty in general life functioning.[6] Some have suggested that use can lead to erectile dysfunction, but this has never been demonstrated by any research.[3]

Religion effect[edit]

A 2014 released study identified a connection between a subjects religious beliefs and their self perception of pornography addiction.[18][19][20] The study's lead author is Case Western Reserve University psychology doctoral student Joshua Grubbs; the study is titled "Transgression as Addiction: Religiosity and Moral Disapproval as Predictors of Perceived Addiction to Pornography" and was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour.[19] One of the findings of the study is that the results strongly indicate a predilection in religious people to believe they are addicted to pornography regardless of how much they watch or whether it negatively impacts their lives.[20][21]


Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been suggested as a possible effective treatment for pornography addiction based on its success with Internet addicts, though no clinical trials have been performed to assess effectiveness among pornography addicts as of 2012.[22] Acceptance and commitment therapy has also been shown to be a potentially effective treatment for problematic Internet pornography viewing.[6]

Online pornography[edit]

Some clinicians and support organizations recommend voluntary use of Internet content-control software, Internet monitoring, or both, to manage online pornography use.[23][24][25]

Sex researcher Alvin Cooper and colleagues suggested several reasons for using filters as a therapeutic measure, including curbing accessibility that facilitates problematic behavior and encouraging clients to develop coping and relapse prevention strategies.[23] Cognitive therapist Mary Anne Layden suggested that filters may be useful in maintaining environmental control.[25] Internet behavior researcher David Delmonico noted that, despite their limitations, filters may serve as a "frontline of protection."[24]

DSM-5 explicitly rejects qualifying online pornography consumption as an addiction.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stein, Dan J.; Hollander, Eric; Rothbaum, Barbara Olasov (31 August 2009). Textbook of Anxiety Disorders. American Psychiatric Pub. pp. 359–. ISBN 978-1-58562-254-2. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  2. ^ Parashar A, Varma A (April 2007). "Behavior and substance addictions: is the world ready for a new category in the DSM-V?". CNS Spectr 12 (4): 257; author reply 258–9. PMID 17503551. 
  3. ^ a b c d Ley, D., Prause, N., & Finn, P. (April 2014). "The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Review of the ‘Pornography Addiction’ Model". Current Sexual Health Reports 1 (1). doi:10.1007/s11930-014-0016-8. 
  4. ^ Laier, C.; Pawlikowski, M.; Pekal, J.; Schulte, F. P.; Brand, M. (2013). "Cybersex addiction: Experienced sexual arousal when watching pornography and not real-life sexual contacts makes the difference". Journal of Behavioral Addictions 2 (2): 100. doi:10.1556/JBA.2.2013.002.  edit
  5. ^ Downs, Martin F.; Chang, Louise (August 30, 2005). "Is Pornography Addictive? Psychologists debate whether people can have an addiction to pornography.". WebMD. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
  6. ^ a b c d Twohig, M. P.; Crosby, J. M. (2010). "Acceptance and Commitment Therapy as a Treatment for Problematic Internet Pornography Viewing". Behavior Therapy 41 (3): 285–295. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2009.06.002. PMID 20569778.  edit
  7. ^ Cooper, A., Delmonico, D. L., & Burg, R. (2000). Cybersex user, abusers, and compulsives. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 7, 5–29.
  8. ^ Twohig, M. P.; Crosby, J. M.; Cox, J. M. (2009). "Viewing Internet Pornography: For Whom is it Problematic, How, and Why?". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 16 (4): 253. doi:10.1080/10720160903300788.  edit
  9. ^ Weinstein, A.; Lejoyeux, M. (2010). "Internet Addiction or Excessive Internet Use". The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 36 (5): 277–283. doi:10.3109/00952990.2010.491880. PMID 20545603.  edit
  10. ^ Meerkerk, G. J.; Eijnden, R. J. J. M. V. D.; Garretsen, H. F. L. (2006). "Predicting Compulsive Internet Use: It's All about Sex!". CyberPsychology & Behavior 9 (1): 95–103. doi:10.1089/cpb.2006.9.95. PMID 16497122.  edit
  11. ^ Hilton, D. L. (2013). "Pornography addiction – a supranormal stimulus considered in the context of neuroplasticity". Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 3. doi:10.3402/snp.v3i0.20767.  edit
  12. ^ a b c American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 481, 797–798. ISBN 978-0-89042-555-8. "Thus, groups of repetitive behaviors, which some term behavioral addictions, with such subcategories as "sex addiction," "exercise addiction," or "shopping addiction," are not included because at this time there is insufficient peer-reviewed evidence to establish the diagnostic criteria and course descriptions needed to identify these behaviors as mental disorders." 
  13. ^ American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2011). DEFINITION OF ADDICTION: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
  14. ^ Steele, V., Prause, N., Staley, C., & Fong, G. W. (2013). "Sexual Desire, not Hypersexuality, is Related to Neurophysiological Responses Elicited by Sexual Images". Socioaffective Neuroscience of Psychology 3. doi:10.3402/snp.v3i0.20770. 
  15. ^ a b Tamsin McMahon Will quitting porn improve your life? A growing ‘NoFap’ movement of young men are saying no to porn and masturbation Maclean's, January 20, 2014.
  16. ^ Grant, J. E.; Potenza, M. N.; Weinstein, A.; Gorelick, D. A. (2010). "Introduction to Behavioral Addictions". The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 36 (5): 233–241. doi:10.3109/00952990.2010.491884. PMC 3164585. PMID 20560821.  edit
  17. ^ Kafka, M. P. (2009). "Hypersexual Disorder: A Proposed Diagnosis for DSM-V". Archives of Sexual Behavior 39 (2): 377–400. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9574-7. PMID 19937105.  edit
  18. ^ Grubbs, Joshua (12 February 2014). "Transgression as Addiction: Religiosity and Moral Disapproval as Predictors of Perceived Addiction to Pornography". Archives of Sexual Behavior. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Staff. "Christians fear porn addiction A psychology study found that people who regard themselves as very religious may regard themselves as addicts – even if they watch internet porn only once.". Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Abel, Jennifer. "Researchers: pornography addiction isn't real Though self-identified porn addicts are probably sincere". Consumer Affairs. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  21. ^ Laier, Christian. Cybersex addiction: Craving and cognitive processes. Diss. Universität Duisburg-Essen, Fakultät für Ingenieurwissenschaften» Ingenieurwissenschaften-Campus Duisburg» Abteilung Informatik und Angewandte Kognitionswissenschaft, 2012.
  22. ^ a b Cooper, Alvin; Putnam, Dana E.; Planchon, Lynn A.; Boies, Sylvain C. (1999). "Online sexual compulsivity: Getting tangled in the net". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 6 (2): 79. doi:10.1080/10720169908400182. 
  23. ^ a b Delmonico, David L. (1997). "Cybersex: High tech sex addiction". Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity 4 (2): 159. doi:10.1080/10720169708400139. 
  24. ^ a b Layden, Mary Anne, Ph.D. (September 2005). "Cyber Sex Addiction" (PDF). Advances in Cognitive Therapy: 1–2, 4–5. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Pornography addiction at DMOZ