This Video Explains The Science Behind Porn Addiction

This Video Explains The Science Behind Porn Addiction

Throwing out cigarettes, pouring out booze or flushing coke down the toilet can be difficult for many addicts. But did you know that many believe you can get just as addicted to pornography as well?

From ASAP Science via The Fix comes this video, which purports to explain the science behind porn addiction, and just how and why porn aficionados keep on coming back for more of the good stuff:


There's a lot to absorb here. And figuring out exactly what effects pornography have on our minds and culture is pretty important, seeing as how 35% of Internet traffic is now porn-related, including 25% of all search engine requests. About 40 million Americans are regular porn viewers. That's a lot of XXX. And the idea that it's addictive has a lot of backers — many of them conservative Christians — in an anti-porn movement going back decades.

Real science? But whether or not porn addiction actually exists is a hotly debated matter among psychiatrists. A recent study by researcher Joshua Grubbs of Case Western Reserve University in Ohio found that it's actually the highly religious who identify themselves as porn addicts — sometimes after only having viewed it just a few times. Grubbs found that well over half the 1,200 books about porn addiction on Amazon were listed in the religious/spiritual section, and many of those were testimonials about struggling with porn. Ultimately, his study concluded that "the amount of [porn] viewing did not impact the perception of addiction, but strong morals did." And his research is backed by clinical psychologist Dr. David Ley, whose review of the literature found that fewer than two out of five research articles about high-frequency sexual behavior actually define it as an addiction, and just 27% of the articles on the subject had any actual data.

"The theory and research behind 'pornography addiction' is hindered by poor experimental designs, limited methodological rigor, and lack of model specification," wrote Ley in the journal Current Sexual Health Reports.

"Since a large, lucrative industry has promised treatments for pornography addiction despite this poor evidence," he continued, "scientific psychologists are called to declare the emperor (treatment industry) has no clothes (supporting evidence)."

The real story: Ley has also argued that people who watch excessive amounts of porn are just people with high libidos, criticizing "a tremendous amount of hyperbole about porn use, with many authors and doomsayers claiming that viewing porn triggers dangerous neurochemical changes in the brain." He points to EEG testing that went against the addiction theory, and says that most of the hysteria around porn addiction is thanks to behaviors in high-libido individuals that "conflict with social values around sex."

In other words, there's strong evidence to suggest the idea of porn addiction as conceived in the popular mind was made up by guilty Christians. That's not to say that such a problem doesn't exist, merely that "addiction" may be a poor word to describe it. Others suggest using the term "compulsion."

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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