Porn Addiction: One Woman’s Opinion

Is porn addiction a serious psychological condition that is causing millions of men their jobs, marriages and relationships with their faimilies? Is it a figment of the collective imagination of the religious right who will stop at nothing to curb our personal freedoms? Like most controversial issues, the answer isn’t black and white, but here’s my personal take:



The subject of pornography addiction can’t (or at least, shouldn’t) be addressed without defining what it is. Since it doesn’t appear in the DSM-IV, porn addiction can’t be accurately characterized as a psychological disease or disorder. But for our purposes, I’ll define it as a compulsion to view pornography that severely interferes with a person’s relationships and ability to perform the functions of day-to-day life.

There are probably hundreds of therapists in the US whose main focus is pornography and sexual addiction. I see multiple ads for them in the newspaper every day. Which tells me that there are a lot of people who feel or worry that they are addicted to porn. I feel sympathy for people in that position, but I don’t believe that jerking off to porn is any more addictive than watching sports or eating hamburgers or playing video games. It’s been turned into something far more shameful by people who feel that their morality trumps others’ right to privacy or free speech.

I doubt many people would argue that a person who plays Halo 3 a few times a week is in need of a serious intervention, but the stigma associated with porn makes watching it regularly seem deviant. The difference between someone who needs to get out more and someone who is destroying the very fabric of society is completely dependent upon what type of media that person chooses to consume. Mainstream entertainment is acceptable. Adult entertainment is not.

During my years working in the adult industry, I’ve seen the religious right attack porn with any means at its disposal (witch hunts for pedophiles, ridiculous record-keeping statutes, obscenity prosecutions). So the discourse around porn addiction is very familiar to me. It’s the same old story dressed up in new pseudoscience and alarmist rhetoric – porn ruins families, porn makes men incapable of relationships, porn is more addictive than crack. There is one lunatic who even claims that porn releases addictive toxins into your body that presumably cause it harm – a conclusion based on absolutely no scientific research whatsoever.

All of this said, I think people who are having problems functioning because they have a compulsive need to watch porn deserve compassion and should not be afraid to get help. No matter what you’ve been led to believe, if you are having problems in your life (porn-related or not), there’s no shame in finding a good therapist to help you figure them out.

At the end of the day, it’s the people who’ve brainwashed thousands of otherwise happy men into thinking they have a shameful addiction to porn that I’m angry with. Most men watch porn. A lot of women watch porn. We’ve not turned into a world of crazed rapists and pedophiles. With porn, as with everything else in life, moderation is key. If you watch it too often or spend too much money on it, you’re likely to have a problem. But responsible adults who choose to enjoy adult entertainment shouldn’t have to be frightened into thinking that their interest in porn makes them addicts.
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27 Responses to “Porn Addiction: One Woman’s Opinion”

  1. Fedor Says:

    I became aware of porn at an early age since a dad of a friend of mine had a video store with one of those curtains in the back where the adult movies were and I have been viewing porn ever since. I visit this site often and I certainly view a lot of porn. Way more than the average person does, or at least admits.

    I also have a steady healthy relationship and pretty much always have my entire life. I can say porn has enhanced my sex life in a healthy way as I have learned to keep things fresh without ever getting weird and it has taught me to be open about what I want and to at least try to make sure she gets what she wants. I have never been the horny alone guy.

    I have a good job and make a solid living. I also pay my taxes on time and have only been to jail once (for one damn joint.) I would even consider myself religious.

    So I don’t consider myself some bizarre creepy anti social deviant as some would paint me. What I consider weird is the people who try to hide it.

    I am 31 if that helps the discussion in anyway.

  2. HotScooter2 Says:

    Alison:

    wow very informative. was amazed about your statement about this one person claiming that porn releases addictive toxins into the body.next thing they will say that these same toxins will get into the water and make those that have never even thought of watching porn turn into porn addicts

  3. Maegorfromwow Says:

    Great addition to the blog. We think a lot alike. That last article you linked was hilarious. Man some people are nuts…..

    “Once there, it gets to work, reflexively and mechanically restructuring the brain ; terrifyingly, involuntary cellular change takes place even during sleep, resisting informed consent “

  4. sundubys Says:

    Thank you very much Alison “Moderation is Key” that’s exactly what I posted the last time, and that’s what it really comes down to…

  5. Giamessi Says:

    “Porn addiction” is not a psychological problem. It can be a behavioral problem when people choose it over their friends and fam. We can’t let people forget that they always have a choice of whether to login or to do something else. The shrinks are just out to get money. Speaking of mental health, my cyberhug will go to rope and Matt since I am sure we all care about their emotional well being as much as Alison, who seems to get them all the time.

  6. speakeroftheobvious Says:

    Alison, you know I love scholarly info with my porn, so this was delightful. Interesting for sure.

  7. funkyx2 Says:

    Certainly too much of any good thing can be bad; overeating, drinking, smoking, so on and so forth. I cant agree more though, a lot of people watch porn, the fact that its a multi-million dollar business certainly proves that. Our proud nation has suffered from a serious case of hypocrisy for centuries, and if we dont ever get around to addressing it it can easily fuel the fires of the foundation of right wing totalitarianism. Power to the people!

  8. hiflyin77 Says:

    Hey Alison, cyberhug. Great post. I’ve actually found myself logging onto VB more for this blog than the videos lately. You really seemed to put a lot of research and time into putting this together. A couple key points that I think you made: “… I don’t believe that jerking off to porn is any more addictive than watching sports or eating hamburgers or playing video games. It’s been turned into something far more shameful by people who feel that their morality trumps others’ right to privacy or free speech.”, and “I doubt many people would argue that a person who plays Halo 3 a few times a week is in need of a serious intervention”. I know people that have played Halo for hours on end, and they wear this acheivement like a badge of honor. I fact “X-box” offers “acheivments” that can be unlocked by completing various tasks on their video games. Many of the tasks can take quite a bit of time to complete, and there are people who obsess over these. How are these people any diferent than someone who enjoys getting off to porn? The only answer I can come to is the point you made, about porn still being taboo, and unfortunetly I don’t see that changing any time soon. I have a family, and full time job, and plenty off friends, but I enjoy wathcing porn. Sometimes I watch it with my wife, and sometimes not. It hasn’t negatively affected my family or my job, and I personally resent anyone who chooses to judge me about the things I do with my life. If the things I do don’t affect them, or hurt anyone in any way, then it’s really none of their business. Cheers

  9. DingleBunnie Says:

    If anyone would like some snacks, they’re over there on the table. Take what you like. It’s self-serving, much like this article.

  10. Todd Says:

    A very informative post! Thanks Alison. Although, I completely agree with Giamessi, it’s behavioral, not psychological….

  11. twankey Says:

    Alison. Ive just been stroking away to Ava Miller as she performs a sexy bj in My Dirty Angels. It seems to me that more and more gorgeous natural and desirable girls like Ava are now doing porn. The quality of the vids seems to be improving. Difficult to see therefore how we can prevent ourselves from becoming addicted.

  12. zarafan Says:

    I’m not entirely convinced I understand the distinction between “behavioral” and “psychological.”

    Be that as it may, I’d like to add a few points following my previous postings on this subject:

    When I first read about “porn addiction,” it was about 7 or 8 years ago, and it was used essentially interchangeably with “internet addiction.” I think it’s worth considering the degree to which a new technology has changed our relationship to time and the way we use our time; back in those days, before high-speed connections were the norm, going on-line was a somewhat laborious and time-consuming affair, so if you were spending more than 12 hours a week on-line back then–which was the amount of time considered “dangerous” in the first article I read on the subject–you really were devoting a lot of time and energy toward what was then a time-consuming and isolating experience (remember, for example, that in those days you would be tying up your phone-line every time you went on-line…). And of course we all remember how crappy internet porn was back then: talk about a law of diminishing returns!! Nowadays, of course, we’re on-line essentially all the time, and I’m quite confident that between e-mail, reading news, visiting favorite websites, and blogging, I well exceed the 12-hours-a-week threshold considered problematic in an “earlier, simpler age.” We’re also much better, for better or worse, at multi-tasking than we were a decade ago, so that it’s quite possible to watch television while on-line, talk to other people while on-line, etc. Being on-line isn’t necessarily as isolating an experience as it was back then–though probably watching on-line porn still is….

    It’s furthermore significant that the terms “porn addiction” and “internet addiction” were originally treated interchangeably: so much of the technology and culture of the Internet were driven initially by porn (as Bill Maher said at the time, “you have to assume that anything that CAN be used for sex WILL be used for sex most of the time…”) that just as in the early days of the CD Player, when it seemed that everybody who owned a CD Player owned pretty much the same collection of CDs, in the first few years of the Internet, anyone who spent a lot of time on-line could be considered to be looking at porn on-line. This is certainly not the case anymore: porn is no longer the dominant use for the Internet, and there are plenty of ways to abuse the Internet nowadays–particularly the “personal” sites like Facebook and MySpace–that have nothing to do with sex as such….

    Another point I would make is to point out that participating in this blog is also a socializing experience. As I’ve said, at this point, I’m probably reading blog posts and scene reviews as much as I am downloading and watching scenes from VB; not all the time, and maybe not even the majority of the time, I spend on VB is spent “auto-erotically”! And for the most part, people on this blog tend to treat one another more thoughtfully and respectfully than on most of the non-porn blogs I participate in. Even though only about a dozen or so people seem to participate in this blog regularly, I hope participation will increase and that we will continue to use this forum constructively. I also think, as always, the credit for our relative civility and courtesy toward one another starts at the top. Thanks, again, Alison!!

  13. G man Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with Alison. I would add that porn addiction really only is a topic which one encounters frequently in cultures where radical religious groups or other such cretins have a strong power base.

    I am from Denmark, a country which is about as sexually liberal as it gets and where the church thankfully has very little influence on public debate. Here you are far more likely to come across discussions on addiction to internet gambling, exercise, computer games or drugs than porn.

    There are discussions about porn here – but they tend to focus on more relevant issues and do it with balance: Does porn give teenagers unrealistic expectations about sex? Should porn be kept out of the view of children (e.g. not having pornographic images in store windows)? How does porn affect the way we view our bodies? Those are all important topics and living in a society where sexuality is not considered evil or shameful makes it a lot easier to address them in a qualified and nuanced way. (I would find it very relevant and interesting if we could talk about that sort of issues here on the blog.)

    Having said all that “addiction” may be as much a subjective feeling as an objective diagnosis. There are probably some of the VB subscribers who indeed feel that they are addicted. It would be enlightening to here from you guys:
    In what way do you feel that you a porn addicts?
    How does it affect your life?
    Do you seriously wish that you could use porn a lot less – or maybe not at all?
    Have you tried to cut down or give up?

  14. alison Says:

    Hey All – Thanks for all of the kind and thoughtful comments. A lot of you pointed out how the fact that the current societal discourse around porn makes it impossible to address more nuanced questions about porn without getting attacked. I totally agree that that’s the case and share in that frustration.

    I’m just going to throw this out there – so many of you have such strong and interesting perspectives on this (and related) topics that I’d like to invite you to write a blog post about them. If you’d really like to get your thoughts into this forum as a poster rather than a commenter, please leave a comment and let me know. I’ll drop you a line and we can talk about how to make it happen. So far, the blog has mostly been a forum for myself and other VB employees (with the notable exception of Ropeadope), but I would love to post entries from members if you’re interested.

  15. whackitgood Says:

    Thank god for porn! It keeps many a man monogamous. I can whack it at home and fantasize rather than go to a strip club, brothel, etc. Women should be more understanding.

    My wife knows I subscribe to this site, she knows I jack off about once daily, and even though she’s not too into porn…she’d rather I watch a video than go out.

    Oh yeah, and we still have sex.

  16. speakeroftheobvious Says:

    I would love to be a poster, I’m a member of the site but post under this alias because my screen-name is one I now quite regret choosing. If it is possible to change it to “speakeroftheobvious” I would love to do so. But yes, please do email me, I submitted my email in that little “leave a reply box”

  17. G man Says:

    Thought about it – and yes, I would very much like to contribute. Have a few ideas that would hopefully spark some relevant debate.

  18. Fedor Says:

    Allison

    I want to write something…Not sure what or when but I want to. I follow MMA very closely so probably something about Tito Ortiz and JJ.

  19. out4fun3 Says:

    In what way do you feel that you a porn addicts?
    How does it affect your life?
    Do you seriously wish that you could use porn a lot less – or maybe not at all?
    Have you tried to cut down or give up?
    G Man poses some interesting questions. I watch a lot of porn and have always had an interest in it especially now with the advent of the internet because it is so accessible and can be viewed in the privacy of one’s home. How does it affect my life? On the one hand, it is a relief valve because I don’t have a lot of sex myself for a variety of reasons but I can still watch beautiful women do it so I don’t feel like I am missing out. On the other hand, I still have the subconscious debate about whether it is right or not to be into porn. Sometimes I think I should be using the time to read up on the stock market or middle east etc. My viewing habits do fluctuate depending on what I have going on at the moment.
    I will say my interest in porn I keep very private and do not share with anyone because of the stigma and because of the type of people in my life who would not understand. I was amazed when I started reading these blog topics about the number of people who share the same interest. Especially Alison, an intelligent female who has just as much interest and knowledge as any guy in the industry. (I am always interested to see her top list of anything because I love her taste in women.)

  20. BigE Says:

    As one of this site’s most respected and well-endowed members, I think it would be a real treat for everyone else if I posted every now and then. Alison, hit me up, baby. I’m about to blow this fucking blog’s mind.

  21. not getting any Says:

    im a very goodlooking girl. but im not getting any at all. we’ve been together for 2 years and we have sex probably 2 times a month. im only 23 yrs old. i really believe porn addiction in my mans life plays a part of it.

  22. out4fun3 Says:

    I heard one time from a relationship expert that when sex stops in a relationship it is almost always due to lack of communication or related issue.

    The viewing of porn whether an addiction or not could be a symptom rather than the cause for a less than gratifying sex life.

  23. Sirspankalot Says:

    I’m 31 and I wouldn’t say that I’m addicted to porn, but I think the plethora of high-quality porn available through the internet has skewed how I look at women and my sex life in general. On a purely superficial level, I believe that the beauty standards that I hold women to before I am sufficiently motivated to pursue them are significantly higher than what it would be if porn wasn’t as fantastic as it is these days. Why jump through hoops for a slightly above average looking girl, when I have literally hundreds of videos on my hard drive with girls that are 8s, 9s and 10s? On top of that, I feel as though girls that are 5s and 6s just aren’t that sexually stimulating and I think that is a result of watching hi-grade smut on a daily basis. Me being about a 7, I need to be open to these 6 & 7s. Instead, I find myself only pulling the trigger with 8s and above. I think that’s because I’m used jerkin it to hot chicks that look exactly how I want them to look. Furthermore, when dating, I’ve noticed a trend of me willing to “trade” personality and intelligence for hotness, so that I can get girls closer to the standard of beauty that I’ve become accustomed to through my “daily ritual.”

    There’s something not healthy here…

    Discuss… :)

  24. Stoked01 Says:

    First I just want to say that I think it’s really cool that these types of discussions can take place on a porn site. Alison definitely writes some pretty provocative material, and I especially dig this post about porn addiction; this is a topic to which I have given some serious thought. I will also say that I agree that porn addiction is all about moderation, and if it becomes a problem, like anything else, seek professional help. Anything that feels really good can be addictive without being “bad” necessarily.
    To address Alison’s Halo 3 analogy, I completely agree. The pornography industry is relatively controversial as viewed by society as a whole, and for this reason porn lovers are more susceptible to be negatively labeled as having a “problem”. Me, I think porn exists because too many people out there are uncomfortable with the idea of sex in general, and that creates a need for those who enjoy sex to experience it voyeuristically. In other words, I believe the porn industry exists because society has sexual anxiety and too many people are sexually prudent. A lot of this is related to the ever-present dark cloud of sexually conservative Christian paradigms, especially in America.

  25. cyclopscake Says:

    I chucked my muck 4 times today watching filth. I don’t think I have a problem, do you? Now for my 18th crack hit.

  26. Hotseat Says:

    The NRA says has a saying that goes something like “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Well I believe that porn doesn’t ruin families, people do. Infact, most of the problems we have are self-inflicted. A man looks at porn and gets horny, goes to his wife and has sex. One article takes it for granted that the man is really only masturbating when he has sex with his wife.

    “Forgive me for being blunt, but this turns our mate into little more than a tool for masturbation.”

    I can’t forgive you, as a reader, I want to ask the author why this is true. How does he know why I’m screwing my wife? How does he know my wife isn’t thinking about Daniel Craig? James Bond is certainly not porn, heck the kids watched it with us.

    “Even more sad is the fact that, over time, our mate becomes the least favorite tool, since the other options place fewer expectations or demands on us.”

    Well that makes perfect sense…. wait,one second. Me thinks that there are other problems in the hen house and the heavy porn consumption might be the symptom and not the cause.

    I loved the part where he tries to tie his friend’s daughter’s promiscuity to her father’s Playboy keychain. He seemed to ignore the fact that she ran away from home. I want to know why she did that, it might be more important. But what do I know, I’m not a therapist… wait a minute who wrote this anyway? My thoughts are that a real therapist would NOT be counselling the teenage daughter of an old friend. A real therapist would probably not tie pedophilia together with pornography unless they were referring to child porn, but this author doesn’t even watch his step, he just drives right off the cliff.

    I’m so tired of finding these mockeries of religion. These articles always come with links to books or programs designed to set you right. In this sense, the people who are trying to “save” you are more insidious than the “sleaze” mongers. At least with porn we know about the suspension of belief, that we are being lied to. I knew this article was full of crap when I saw the link to the bookstore in the first paragraph.

    If this article scared you even a little bit about what could happen from looking at porn, just take a second look at your palms and realize they aren’t hairy.

    Thanks for reading my rant. Happy Stroking to all my fellow onanists.

  27. me Says:

    First of all, I am a woman, I love having sex, I have normal sex, I have oral sex and sometimes anal. I like giving oral and I don’t find the fact of my lover ejaculating in my mouth disgusting (ok, that’s something I couldn’t do with everyone, just with him). I like having sex a bit rougher. I even watch and enjoy porn sometimes (and I don’t mean softcore). I am for the sexual freedom. I am against the classic religious morality and against the concept of abstinence before marriage and so on…BUT everyone can notice that porn nowadays is becoming more and more unhealthy. At first it was a good thing, because sex was so a “shhhh… don’t do it, don’t talk about it, dirty, immoral, yuck”, which are really really stupid ideas.
    BUT NOW it has really gone too far. A lot. Porn is becoming more and more agressive, misogynistic, degrading to women. Freedom of sexual behaviour for women? It makes me laugh, ’cause in the majority of porn women are really degraded, called sluts, whores, etc. and somehow being punished for enjoying sex, considered some kind of low-class citizens. What kind of freedom is that?
    It’s interesting to find out what will find pornographers to keep interest alive ten years from now. Come on, things like double anal, drinking cum out of someone’s asshole or licking it from a plate, fisting, ass to mouth, throatfucking till tears etc. aren’t normal things. And all of them are made to degrade the women! I think that the main issue is not the fact that many of the female pornstars choose this path in life because they were abused as children or some other reasons like that, or that their health is seriously put at risk (practices like penetrating one girl, than the other increase the risk of STD’s – or allergies, even if all the participants are healthy; practices like ass to pussy or to mouth also have a great amount of risk; many female porn stars have has serious problems after excessively rough sex (vaginal and anal tears, bleedings, etc), or the fact that most of them have really big psychological issues (low self esteem, etc.). How would you feel if your mother, daughter, sister, or a woman you care for would be treated like this (e.g. having 5 men ejaculating on her face, hair, eyes)? Even if I am standing for human rights, I don’t think this is the major pronlem. Yes, it is a problem, and a big one. But the MAIN problem in porn is not that (as the 99% of women don’t film porn). The main problem is: what does this say about society? About men and their desires? Why is such a big demand for more and more agressive pornography? Why is it all about how many dicks you can stick in a girl’s ass? Or who can handle the largest dildo? Or the number of people in gangbangs? I guess this reflects a very sad thing. We live in a society that hates women, hates that women are becoming equal to men, a society that searchs for means to put women in “her place”… I think… how would a male teacher who watched yesterday some rough scenes look at the female students that attend an exam? Or a judge? Or a boss? How would a 15 year boy who has watched a lot of porn relate to his girlfriend?
    Yes, it is fantasy. But fantasies always say something about you. And yes it is addictive. Think about yourselves. If at first when you saw something like normal doggy style sex pictures… you were so aroused that you could cum in 30 seconds? What do you need now to cum? I bet you don’t cum as fas if you see regular sex. You need more. You need something harder.
    Yes, I know, it’s fantasy. But fantasies always say something about us. Think.