Is Porn Addiction Real?

Is Porn Addiction Real?


(Applause) Over a dozen states are calling this “danger” a public health crisis. Not the opioid epidemic, or our country’s issues with obesity. But instead, it’s this issue. [Travis Stork Voiceover] Arizona has officially declared pornography, a public health crisis. And it’s not alone. 14 other states have passed similar measures. Saying porn is addictive, and linked to violence against women, and the hyper sexualization of teens. These states aren’t banning porn, but are aiming to raise awareness about it’s public health threat. But, is porn really a heath crisis on the same level of the opioid, or obesity epidemic? Is porn a health crisis? Is porn addiction real? Joining us now, is clinical sexologist Dr. Robert Weiss. Dr. Weiss, thanks for being here. You say, porn addiction although controversial, is very real. Why?
Absolutely. Porn addiction exists. It falls under a larger category of issues like, sexual addiction, or compulsive sexual behavior. And I’ve been treating this stuff for decades, I’ve written a book, in fact I wrote, ‘Sex Addiction 101’, now I’m writing, ‘Porn Addiction 101’. And I feel like, I’m revisiting old issues in a digital age. And, Dr. Judy, you obviously deal with these issues a lot, in your clinical practice. What are your thoughts, when we say, “Porn addiction is real?” Well, what we know, is that the research is still somewhat in it’s infancy. So, we know that there are people, who struggle with some of the symptoms, but does that really constitute a clinical condition, that’s diagnosable. And that’s where we’re having challenges, in our research. We don’t have robust research, that shows it’s like an addiction process. In a physiological fashion. It’s not strong enough, So, things like developing tolerance, and withdrawal, that’s sometimes what we discuss as what constitutes an addiction. We do have that for other process addictions, though, like gambling disorder, and so, this is a reason why, porn addiction, or internet, or sexual addiction, is not yet in the DSM. It’s not even in the section for ‘conditions for further study. So, you’re speaking about addiction from the perspective of is this a pathologic addiction? And for people who don’t understand, When we talk about DSM, you’re talking about official diagnosis. Whereas a medical provider, you could say, “This, you know, this is an official diagnosis, that I can make. That is backed up in the literature.” Dr. Weiss, back to you, I-I’m assuming that you two disagree, a little bit, on this. Well, yeah. I mean, um, a woman named Dr. Valerie Voon at Oxford. Looked at the brains of people who said they were porn addicted, and people who said, they just enjoyed porn. And you can absolutely see the differences, in the way their brains light up. The people who have a porn addiction, are struggling with decision making, and discomfort, and they’re just in a whole different place. I mean, we can just see it in the brain. And here’s part of the problem with that, I am very aware of Dr. Voon’s research, and I’m so glad that there’s more research in this area. Because we need it. That’s how we can move from a place of infancy to robust research. But here’s the issue with Dr. Voon’s research, and she actually says it herself. There are limitations, there are only 19 subjects, and they were self identified as having a porn addiction. And at the time, there was no criteria, no set criteria, for how to measure, again, because we don’t have the diagnosis. What compulsive sexual behavior is. And at the same time, There was a very small sample size, very small age range restriction. It’s not a causeology study, because it’s cross-sectional, And the methodology was only applied in a very specific brain region, rather than looking at the whole brain. And so, there’s a lot of different ways to interpret the data that we have. And we have a few other studies like this, that are small samples, again, with just heterosexual males that are on the younger side. Usually between to ages of 20 to 30. We just need to know more, before we can definitively say this. Because, what if it’s coming from other things? Like this is a symptom of an underlying thing, like clinical depression, or anxiety, and that’s how their coping. What if it’s actually related to, a paraphilia? Like pedophilia.
But you can say that about so many compulsive behaviors. Whether you’re addicted to gambling, And you just have to place a bet, a wager on something. Or shopping addiction. Or gaming addiction– Drug or alcohol addiction, where people have a, you know, they have a mental health problem and they turn to these.
Yes. Addictions.

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