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Experts: Sex and Porn Addiction Probably Aren’t Real Mental Disorders

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It isn’t just Anthony Weiner: There is a big, noisy conversation going on about sex and porn addiction, as a couple quick Google searches will readily reveal. Naturally, that conversation has brought with it a growing market for counselors and even clinics specifically oriented toward treating these problems.

The problem is, many sex researchers don’t think sex and porn addiction are useful, empirically backed frameworks for understanding certain compulsive forms of sexual behavior. This has led to a rather fierce debate in some quarters, albeit one the average news consumer is probably unaware of.

Last week, the skeptics won an important victory: The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, which is the main professional body for those professions, has come out with a position statement arguing that there isn’t sufficient scientific evidence to support the concepts of porn and sex addiction. “When contentious topics and cultural conflicts impede sexual education and health care,” begins the statement, which was sent out to the organization’s members last week, “AASECT may publish position statements to clarify standards to protect consumer sexual health and sexual rights.”

It continues:

AASECT recognizes that people may experience significant physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual health consequences related to their sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors. AASECT recommends that its members utilize models that do not unduly pathologize consensual sexual problems. AASECT 1) does not find sufficient empirical evidence to support the classification of sex addiction or porn addiction as a mental health disorder, and 2) does not find the sexual addiction training and treatment methods and educational pedagogies to be adequately informed by accurate human sexuality knowledge. Therefore, it is the position of AASECT that linking problems related to sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors to a porn/sexual addiction process cannot be advanced by AASECT as a standard of practice for sexuality education delivery, counseling or therapy.

AASECT advocates for a collaborative movement to establish standards of care supported by science, public health consensus and the rigorous protection of sexual rights for consumers seeking treatment for problems related to consensual sexual urges, thoughts or behaviors.

David Ley, an Albuquerque clinical psychologist whose whose book The Myth of Sex Addiction likely gives you a sense of his views on the subject, and who reviewed the statement for AASECT prior to its publication, described this as “kind of a big deal.” “It hits the credibility of sex-addiction therapists kind of between the legs frankly,” he said in an email. “These are clinicians who claim to [work on] sexuality issues, and the main body of sex therapist says that they are not demonstrating an adequate understanding of sexuality itself.”

Back in August, after the latest Weiner scandal broke, Ley laid out in an email why, even in such an extreme case, describing the disgraced former representative as a “sex addict” isn’t a helpful approach:

Ley’s basic argument is that that “sex addiction” isn’t well-defined, is quite scientifically controversial, and in recent decades has been increasingly used to explain a broad range of bad behavior on the part of (mostly) men. But in a sense, this robs men of their agency, of the possibility that they can control their compulsions and put them in a broader, more meaningful psychological context. “Sex addiction,” in this view, is a lazy and easy way out. […] Someone like Weiner, Ley explained, could obviously “benefit from learning to be more mindful, conscious, and less impulsive in his sexual behaviors. But those are issues resolved by helping him, and others, to become more mindful, conscious, and intentional in his life as a whole.” When you single out sex addiction as the source of the problem rather than taking this more holistic approach, Ley argued, it “ignores the fact that sex is always a complex, overdetermined behavior and that sex is often used by men to cope with negative feelings. Is Weiner getting the help he needs in his career, personal life, and relationship? Does he have other ways to try to make himself feel attractive and valued? Those are the questions that this latest incident raises. Sadly, calling him a sex addict ignores all of these much more important concerns.”

Weiner might not be the most sympathetic figure, but if Ley and the AASECT are correct, many sex-and porn-addiction clinics and clinicians are taking a lot of money from vulnerable people and their families, despite not offering a science-based approach.

Unfortunately, this fits in neatly with a longstanding problem in the broader world of addiction-treatment services: As journalists like Maia Szalavitz have pointed out, this is an under-regulated area of treatment that is rife with pseudoscience and abuse. To take just one example, Science of Us, drawing on reporting by Sarah Beller, noted in June that one court-ordered addiction-treatment regime draws heavily from nonsensical Scientology ideas. If AASECT’s statement is any indication, the world of sex-addiction “treatment” isn’t all that much better.

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“Porn” problems unlike any known addiction in largest neuroscience study

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Like I’ve said all along…

When studying addictions, there are known relationships between certain stimuli and reactions in the brain. These reactions have, in some instances, become the benchmark for what constitutes an addiction and addiction-based behaviors.  There has been heated debate over the very existence of porn “addiction” and what that addiction would look like when studied.

porn addiction, no such thing

In the largest neuroscience study of porn addiction to date, research conducted at UCLA found a clear reversal of the brain’s typical addiction response in study participants when they were shown sexual images. With the use of brain wave monitoring, participants who reported major problems controlling their viewing of sex films showed decreased brain reactions when shown the sexual images, rather than heightened activity as having a “porn addiction” would suggest.

The study shows that the brain does not react the way an addict’s brain would react to cues for their drug of choice. In fact, the study shows that the hypothetical “sex addict” brain reacts in the opposite way that a drug addict’s brain reacts, questioning whether sex addiction actually exists.

“This finding is important, because it shows a reversal of a part of the brain response that has been consistently documented in other substance addictions and gambling disorder,” Prause said. She also noted that this was consistent with their previous study, in which participants served as their own control and no relationship existed between the severity of their sex film problems and their brain response.

Many self-identified “hypersexual” people say they have an uncontrollable urge for sexual stimuli, and that it has resulted in negative life consequences such as loss of jobs or loss of relationships. For this reason, many clinicians have suggested that “sex addiction” be diagnosed much like drug addiction.

“While we do not doubt that some people struggle with their sexual behaviors, these data show that the nature of the problem is unlikely to be addictive,” said Prause.

The study involved 122 volunteers, both men and women. Some had problems controlling their viewing of sex films and met suggested criteria for problem use of pornography by three different questionnaire measures. Others denied any problems with their viewing of sex films. The 122 participants viewed images and were monitored using electroencephalography (EEG) that measures brain waves. The images were of sexual and non-sexual scenes. They included photos of people skydiving and of a man and woman engaging in intercourse, among others.

The study measured the late positive potential (LPP). Co-author Greg Hajcak described, “The LPP reflects electrical activity of the brain that is recorded at the scalp and time-locked to the presentation of pictures.” The LPP is a very common measure in studies of emotion. “The size of the LPP reflects the intensity of an emotional response, and reflects brain activity occurring in the visual system and ancient subcortical structures,” explained co-author Dean Sabatinelli.sex-addiction

“Hundreds of studies have found that the LPP is larger for emotional compared to neutral pictures,” described Hajcak, “and previous work from myself and my colleagues have shown that cocaine addicts have an increased LPP to cocaine-related pictures.” To test for correlation with hypersexuality, one would expect the brain to show high rates of activity when shown sexual images. In this study, a reverse effect was shown.

“The extent that individuals struggle with attempts to control urges or other internal states such as thoughts or emotions may change how problematic pornography viewing becomes,” co-author and psychologist Cameron Staley added. “Labeling a person’s attempt to control urges a ‘sexual addiction’ may interfere with therapy approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that can reduce distressing sexual behaviors.”

The study appears in the current online edition of the scientific journal Biological Psychology (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051…).

Authors on the study are Dr. Nicole Prause, Liberos LLC (http://www.liberoscenter.com); Dr. Vaughn R. Steele, The Mind Research Network, UNM-Albuquerque; Dr. Cameron Staley, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID; Dr. Dean Sabatinelli, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Dr. Greg Hajcak, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY.

This research was conducted in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences (http://www.psychiatry.ucla.edu/), which is the within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA for faculty who are experts in the origins and treatment of disorders of complex human behavior. The lead author is the founder at Liberos LLC, a company in the UCLA startup program devoted to neuroscience research and the treatment of human sexual problems.
Complete Article HERE!

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Welcome To The Wacky World Of Fetish Porn

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By Sarah Raphael

In 2017, Pornhub boasted an average of 81 million active users a day, culminating in 28.5 billion visits over the course of the year. For comparison, Twitter had 100 million active users per day, and the BBC had a global average of 372 million people per week. As responsible citizens, we like to keep abreast of current affairs, and it appears we like porn just as much.

According to Pornhub’s survey, the most searched terms on the site last year were, in order: lesbian, hentai (anime/ manga porn), milf, stepmum, stepsister, and mum. Lesbian is perhaps unremarkable, since it appeals to several genders and orientations, but hentai at number two is a surprise, and it only gets weirder from there. Hentai loosely translates from Japanese as ‘a perverse sexual desire’ – but when manga and mummy porn are among the top six search terms of 81 million watchers a day, is it time we reconsider what constitutes ‘abnormal sexual desire’?

In his masterpiece podcast The Butterfly Effect, journalist Jon Ronson interviews the founders of Anatomik Media, a company based in LA which produces made-to-order fetish videos for private clients. The videos, produced by the company’s founders, husband and wife duo Dan and Rhiannon, cost anywhere between a few hundred and several thousand dollars, and the clients will often send a script or a specific set of instructions for how the fetish fantasy should play out. Some of the videos they talk about on the podcast include burning a man’s very expensive stamp collection, and pouring condiments like ketchup on a woman in a paddling pool. “We take everyone’s fetish very seriously, we don’t laugh at them,” Rhiannon tells Jon. In the same episode, Jon interviews fetish actress/ producer Christina Carter, who stars as Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman vs. The Gremlin, a custom video series for a private client in which Wonder Woman is controlled by a gremlin who hits her over the head to keep her in the room. Jon emails the client to ask where this scenario came from and eventually he replies, saying that his mother left when he was five and he remembers watching her leave; the inference is that he is the gremlin in the scenario, trying to make his mother (Wonder Woman) stay

“I don’t consider any of the fetishes people come to see me to explore as being ‘unusual’,” Miss Bliss, a 31-year-old pansexual, feminist dominatrix with 10 years’ experience in the sex work industry, tells me over email. “I try and break down barriers, not reinforce them. I teach my clients that it takes courage to embrace one’s desires and strength to experiment and understand and indulge in them, regardless of what their particular fetish is. There are no unusual fetishes, just unusual societal standards.” The services Miss Bliss offers include ‘corporal punishment’ (spanking, slapping, whipping, etc), ‘foot/high heel worship’, ‘wax play’, ‘puppy play’ (being treated like a dog), ‘adult baby care’ (being treated like a baby) and ‘consensual blackmail’, which, as she explains, is an act “involving one person or people giving written or verbal permission to release sensitive and potentially damaging information, and/or agreed-upon falsehoods/embellishments if previously agreed-upon actions/terms are not met.” On her website, the explanation is a little easier to comprehend: “Beg and plead with me not to release any intimate images, videos and messages to your partner, family, co-workers or on social media.” Miss Bliss says she sees the game of consensual blackmail as “just another way of stripping someone of ego, control and power, which allows the person to be vulnerable and in a constant state of heightened excitement.”

Humiliation is a common theme in Miss Bliss’ services, and an inherent part of BDSM. “When conducted consensually, safely and appropriately, it can be incredibly liberating,” she explains. “People enjoy humiliation as a way to break down the boundaries we put up in our day-to-day lives and stay ‘safe’ behind. It opens a door to vulnerability, repressed emotions and allows feelings like control, responsibility and ego to take a back seat in a safe environment.” Miss Bliss describes an “outpouring of emotion” from some clients after a session and includes aftercare as part of the package – “to build the submissive back up so they feel supported, nurtured and protected.”

When I ask why Miss Bliss thinks people end up in her dungeon or domestic space, she answers: “For so many reasons. A lot to do with their upbringing, their relationship with others and themselves, the power struggle they feel in their careers… Everyone wants to feel heard, to be seen and to feel understood. Coming to see a professional who bears no judgement, has only the best intentions and understands boundaries and respect is one of the most healthy ways to work through psychosexual subjects. It is certainly a form of therapy.”

When you put it like that, it’s hard to remember why stigma exists at all around fetish. And yet, if you found out your colleague watched hot wax porn every night, you might raise an eyebrow, or if someone in your circle revealed that they were a client of Miss Bliss and enjoyed puppy play on a Saturday, you might fall off your chair – because these things aren’t talked about and they come as a shock.

“There’s generally two reasons that fetishes are talked about in the public domain,” explains Professor Mark Griffiths, a chartered psychologist and professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University, over the phone, “either because somebody has been criminally arrested because the fetish constitutes some kind of criminal activity or it’s people who are written about because they’re seeking treatment for their fetish. But I would argue with the vast majority of fetishes – what we call non-normative sexual behaviours – there’s absolutely no problematic element for anyone engaging in them.”

Professor Griffiths has written extensively about fetish on his blog, and says he almost always concludes his posts with the fact that we just don’t know enough about fetishes or how many people have them because the studies that have been conducted are so small. “We recently interviewed eight dacryphiles – people who are sexually aroused by crying,” he says, “and found that there were three completely different types of dacryphile even in the sample of eight people. Half were ‘sadistic’ dacryphiles where their pleasure came from making other people cry, three people were ‘compassionate’ dacryphiles who were sexually aroused by men crying, and one person’s particular fetish was when people are about to cry and their lower lip starts to wobble – that was the sexually arousing part – so we called that a ‘curled lip’ dacryphile. These eight people were from one forum – the crying forum – but there could be many other types of dacryphile.”

Having researched and written about all sorts of fetishes, from bushy eyebrow fetishes to injection fetishes, shoe fetishes and fruit fetishes, Professor Griffiths reaffirms that “the vast majority of people with fetishes don’t have psychological problems or mental disorders, it’s just something they like. We have to accept, in terms of how we develop sexually, that there are going to be lots of different things that get people aroused, and some things are seen as normal, and others are seen as strange and bizarre. For example, if you’ve got a fetish for soiled underclothes – which is called mysophilia – that’s more embarrassing to talk about than if you’ve got a fetish just for knickers. One is seen as bizarre, one isn’t.”

Professor Griffiths’ first port of call in his research on fetish is online forums – like the crying forum – where people connect with others who have the same or a similar fetish. Natasha (not her real name) uses online forums to explore her fetish, which is hair, specifically haircuts, known as trichophilia. “I masturbate while watching videos of women having their hair cut,” she explains on email. “It freaks me out that I like it, I used to be really scared of having my hair cut when I was a child, and somehow as I got older, it became a sexual thing.” Natasha goes on websites such as Extreme Haircuts and Haircuts Revisited and watches videos of and reads stories about women having their hair cut. “I feel like a freak,” she tells me, “but there’s a whole world of haircut porn on the internet, so I’m not the only one.” Natasha says that discovering porn catered to her fetish was liberating, but she still deletes her search history so that her boyfriend doesn’t find out.

“We are led to believe that there are few options in which we can express our sexuality healthily, when nothing could be further from the truth,” says Miss Bliss. “This, in conjunction with the various religious messages which restrict our sexual expression, leaves people feeling so isolated, which is what I am here to change.” Miss Bliss is on a mission to open up sexuality and empower people to explore their kinks in a safe, consensual setting.

Whether we know about it or not, the world of fetish and its many online and offline facets has a place in our society. It might be something we frown at, but there’s no denying that people have a need and are using these services – Pornhub search terms are the tip of the iceberg. As Professor Griffiths concludes: “It might be non-normative, but that doesn’t mean it’s abnormal.” Who knows what dreams may come when you approach the dungeon.

Complete Article HERE!

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No, This Survey Does Not Show That How Much Porn Men Watch Is Linked To Sexual Dysfunction

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By Josh Davis

A new survey reports that men who watch large amounts of porn are more likely to have sexual dysfunction, while no such correlation is true for women. Needless to say, there are some issues with this study, and some more with the media covering it.

The research is the result of a survey revealed at the 112th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association. Surveying men aged between 20 and 40, they found that while over a quarter say they view porn less than weekly, more than 21 percent report they consume it 3-5 times per week, and just over 4 percent more than 11 times.

In those men who report that they prefer masturbating to pornography rather than sexual intercourse (3.4 percent), the researchers say they found a link between sexual dysfunction and the amount they used pornography. This is not to say that there is a correlation between the consumption of porn and sexual dysfunction among all men, as some media have implied, just that on average male sexual dysfunction is linked to a greater preference for porn than physical intercourse.

When it comes to how solid the results are, well it leaves a lot to be desired. The study itself only surveyed 312 men and 48 women, meaning the sample size, and thus the conclusions that can be drawn from it, are limited to say the least.

The study is also based on a survey given to people as they passed through a urology clinic. People, in general, are really bad when it comes to self-reporting, and even more so when it is related sex and sexual behavior. Their self-reporting, coupled with the small sample size, suggests the conclusions drawn from this survey are very restricted.

The researchers claim that they have found a statistical correlation between how much porn a man consumes and whether he is also sexually dysfunctional. Aside from the issues above, there is no way to show that the former leads to the latter. It could, for example, be that those men who are sexually dysfunctional are more likely to turn to pornography to get their rocks offs and find some satisfaction.

Or it may be that those men who watch lots of porn are more confident with their sexuality and thus more likely to report any health issues they have relating to it. Either way, to use the results of this tiny survey to make larger claims about the population as a whole seems, shall we say, misplaced.

Complete Article HERE!

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Good News: Porn Isn’t Bad For Your Sexual Health After All

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Everyone can calm down now.

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porn addiction, no such thing

Recently, a British National Health Service therapist suggested that access to porn is “damaging” to men’s health, particularly their sexual health, so naturally the internet freaked out, because porn is awesome and it’d be tragic if it really was unhealthy somehow.

The claim came from psychosexual therapist Angela Gregory, who stated that watching porn too much and too often is the reason more and more men in their teens and 20s are suffering from erectile dysfunction. She told BBC:

“Our experience is that historically men that were referred to our clinic with problems with erectile dysfunction were older men whose issues were related to diabetes, MS, cardio vascular disease. These younger men do not have organic disease, they’ve already been tested by their GP and everything is fine.

So one of the first assessment questions I’d always ask now is about pornography and masturbatory habit because that can be the cause of their issues about maintaining an erection with a partner.”

To supplement her argument that porn is no bueno, Gregory mentioned a youngster named Nick, who started jerking off to porn when he was 15, and loved it so much that it ruined his life and he needed medical help. Poor Nick.

“I found that when I was lying next to a girl a lot that I just wouldn’t be horny at all, despite being really attracted to the girl and wanting to have sex with her, [because] my sexuality was completely wired towards porn. At my peak I was probably watching up to two hours of porn every day.”

That’s a lot of porn. In fact that does sound excessive and potentially harmful.

However, there’s a small problem with Gergory’s claim: there’s no factual evidence. Hers is a subjective interpretation, therefore only a theory. So calm down. Porn isn’t bad for you, and it’s not messing up your junk’s ability to do its job.

The article published by BBC announcing Gregory’s theory even started out saying, “There are no official figures, but…” so readers should have known right then to not take it to heart. After all, if you’ve been beating off to porn for years and your equipment still functions and you have not turned into a sex offender, it must mean porn isn’t bad for you.

If it helps, there are actually studies that prove porn is beneficial. One Danish study from 2007 found that pornography has positive, yet minor, effects on sexual health. Another large study also definitively determined porn is not bad for you, and has literally no negative impact on men’s sexual health.

“Contrary to raising public concerns, pornography does not seem to be a significant risk factor for younger men’s desire, erectile, or orgasmic difficulties,” the authors wrote in the report.

See? You love porn, and porn loves you back just the same, so keep watching.

Complete Article HERE!

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