What is it with watching porn?
Regularly watching porn and the incidence of porn addiction is a wide spread, social issue in the world today. With the explosion of the internet there has been an unregulated stream of ‘fodder’ for us to choose from.
The statistics on porn use are unsettling:
- 1 in 5 internet searches on a mobile device are for pornography.
- Men in happy relationships are 61% less likely to look at porn.
- 20% of men admit to viewing pornography at work.
- 88% of porn scenes contain physical aggression. 49% contain verbal aggression.
According to these statistics it is clear that we love watching porn, but is it actually harmful or just a bit of light relief?
As Ran Gavrieli shares in the clip above that before he started watching porn, his idea being intimate or making love was born from a foundation of love and care, with intimacy being about sensuality and mutuality, there was a narrative. His definition of love was about the whole person, it was about connection.
Ran goes on to say that after watching porn for a period of time he felt like his mind was invaded by those images, that they had taken the place of his original fantasies of romantic love. He makes a pertinent point when he states:
We should not only be careful about what type of foods we put in our body, but also the nutrition of our minds.
When we watch porn we take on the energy of porn into our bodies, it infiltrates our energetic space, a poison we carry with us long after we stop watching – this energy remains with us when we interact with everyone, including those we love, our partner, our children.
Pornography is addictive and paralysing, why? Because porn excites our primal tendencies, the part of us that is all about desire, with the primary focus being on ‘self’. It stems from our overwhelming need to be satisfied, to get that ‘rush’. It is the ultimate distraction away from a less than fulfilling life.
What Causes Porn Addiction?
There are many factors that can be precursors to porn addiction, such as a predisposition to impulsivity, emotional dysregulation, high levels of testosterone, childhood environmental factors such as abuse or exposure to sexual content, mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or personality disorders, rejection in relationships, social isolation, and peer influence.
When we look at these factors more closely we can see that they are underpinned by a basic lack of connection and a lack of intimacy. Not everyone with high testosterone is compelled to watch porn. If we choose to live in a way where we are shut down to others in an attempt to prevent ourselves from getting hurt, to avoid rejection, we just end up feeling isolated and alone. But by allowing ourselves to be open and choosing to let others in we feel a closeness, a connection, a feeling of being met, something many it seems, avoid doing. Could this be what we are actually craving when we view porn?
Watching porn it is usually done in private, we feel safe and protected, we do not have to open up to others and risk rejection, we can have our needs (intimacy and connection) met in a pseudo kind of way, but in truth are we not just medicating the unmet need?
When a person watches porn it floods the brain with the feel good chemical dopamine, the same chemical that is released when taking drugs. When these ‘surges’ are repeated the brain becomes desensitised and requires more and more extreme type images to get the same rush. Regular sex becomes boring. This widespread problem is now creating a demand for more and more extreme, hard core porn that producers are quick to supply – our behaviour is creating the demand.
* Newsflash * – Watching Porn shrinks your Brain!
In a 2011 a study was done by German researchers that found the area of the brain called the striatum, that is linked with the reward and motivation response, actually shrank in size the more porn a person watched.
What to do if your partner is addicted to Porn
If you are in a relationship and your partner is regularly viewing porn you can feel rejected, alone, and unloved. It may be difficult for your partner to be aroused by everyday sex and ‘making love’, and being tender can become a foreign concept.
There is a seeking of instant gratification which ends up being all about them and what is going to get them there – you no longer seem to factor.
- Its important to talk with your partner and be honest about how you feel. Going into judgement or blame is not going to support them, you can’t make them admit they have a problem, it is up to them to take responsibility for themselves.
- Take a good look at the current state of your relationship. Look at what role you are playing within it. See if you are in some way enabling their behaviour. When we fail to call out what we are not ok about, it is the same as saying, ‘what you’re doing IS ok’.
- Seek professional help for yourself, so you can begin to open up and make sense of how you feel and look at what you can do to best support yourself.
- If your partner is open to it, seek professional support as a couple. This will give you a forum to get honest together about what has been happening and gain a deeper of understanding of why the compulsion is there and look at how to address it. By understanding your partner more deeply it can support you to support them and yourself.
- Take time to get your partner reacquainted with true intimacy – find ways to open up to each other, look into each others eyes. Lie naked together and hold each other, get used to touching each other again, take things very slowly with no expectations of a certain outcome. Give your partner time to become aroused being with you. If there is pressure to perform or a rush it can push them back into fantasy, so patience is the key.
Kate Chorley is an experienced psychotherapist and couples counsellor in the Blacktown and Parramatta areas of Sydney.
Kate has worked with many individuals and successfully helped them overcome addictions of all kinds including porn addiction.
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