What Makes Porn So Powerfully Addictive?

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The porn industry is one of the biggest industries today. They have built an empire that is only going to expand as time passes. Once you log on to the internet, the chances of you coming across porn unintentionally are higher than your chances of coming across current affairs news. This is because porn is everywhere. Be it in spam adverts, video streaming websites, or the hundreds of websites dedicated to pornography. You can easily access porn with the click of a button.

This privilege that the internet has bestowed upon us also comes with its own set of cons. One of the side effects of the growing porn industry is becoming more and more apparent lately. It’s the problem of porn addiction. Irrespective of age and gender, people all over the world have fallen prey to this problem. As per experts, as time passes, it’s only going to get worse. 

What Is Porn Addiction?

In theory, porn addiction refers to a situation where a person can’t stop viewing porn. Even if they want to stop, their mind and body push them towards consuming more and more pornography. 

It is a behavioural form of addiction that is characterised by the need to watch porn constantly. The individual here gets so involved in it that they become emotionally and physically dependent on pornography. To the point that it even starts to interfere in their daily life and relationships. 

However, despite the growing cases of porn addiction all over the world, porn addiction is yet to be officially recognised as a disorder by psychiatric associations all over the world. But, that does not mean it is not a legitimate problem. The uncontrollable compulsion to view porn can be just as harmful as any other behavioral addiction like gambling or shopping. 

Addiction not only affects the addicts life but also the lives of the people around them. Here are some of the major sides effects of porn addiction, just to name a few:

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Higher chances of infidelity
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Chronic loneliness
  • Inability to form meaning relationships in the future

People from all over the world have come forward with their stories of how porn has negatively impacted their lives and relationships. This is not surprising when you take into account the traffic that porn websites receive every day. In 2019, popular porn streaming website Pornhub announced that over 42 billion visits. That’s almost 115 million views in just one day. Keep in mind, that was just one website. There are hundreds of websites like this streaming pornographic content every day. Now, does it really come as a shocker that porn addiction is on the rise?

What Makes Porn So Addictive?

The simple answer would be, porn works in similar ways to drugs. How the effect of a drug can differ from person to person, it’s the same with pornography. Like addictive substances, porn scenes are hyperstimulation, which leads to extremely high levels of dopamine secretion in your brain. This is highly unnatural. The more you indulge in an activity like this, the more your brain secrets dopamine. This messes up the dopamine reward system in your brain. As a result, your brain stops responding to other natural sources of pleasure.

As this becomes a habit, your brain slowly starts associating porn with dopamine. This is how the cravings begin. The moment you stop feeding your brain this content, the dopamine also stops and that’s when things can get ugly. It can lead to various sexual dysfunctions and mental health disorders. Compulsive porn consumers have reported higher depressive symptoms, generally lower quality of life, and proper health compared to those who don’t consume porn regularly. People who identified as engaging in compulsive sexual behaviors showed more reactivity in the brain compared with those who identified as non-compulsive. Thus, viewing pornography, especially when it becomes compulsive in nature, activates the same underlying brain networks as alcohol and other drugs.

How Addiction Works

The journey to becoming addicted to pornography often follows the same pattern as drug addiction. For example, at some point, an individual is exposed to pornographic images and begins to experiment with pornography. This doesn’t help when in today’s world porn is everywhere. From the video games, we play to the movies we watch to even the social media websites we’re a part of. Even though there might not be outright sexual content on these platforms in most cases, there is slight sexual imagery everywhere they look. We live in a world where everything is highly sexualised, it’s especially hard for the current generation because this is the world they’re growing up in. This is what they see every day and it can have some serious negative effects on their mind and body. This increases the possibility of porn addiction marginally among the younger generation. 

Why Porn Can Be Damaging

It’s important a distinction is made between liking porn and compulsive porn addiction. It is not the concept of porn that is damaging in this scenario. What the porn industry has made of it is problematic and damaging. The industry leaves no opportunity to make money. But, the bigger problem is that it lacks censorship and the heaps of illegal content available. There are videos of sex/human trafficking victims, sexual abuse victims, videos of underage individuals, and much worse content. Being one of the leading media industries in today’s world, they owe their viewers to start monitoring the content.

Another issue with pornographic content is the recurring theme of violence in such videos. The violent content that is popular in this form of media today, leaves a distorted image of what sex is. Especially in the mind pf young impressionable teens and adolescents. This is a legitimate concern as sexual violence rates grow globally every day. 

How Porn Effects All Genders

Research has found that the earlier men use porn, the more likely they are to have trouble developing close, intimate relationships with real women. Some of these men prefer porn to sex with an actual human being. Addiction blurs the line between reel and real. Addicts expect porn sex from women. When they don’t receive it, it angers them.

Porn culture doesn’t only affect men. It also changes the way women and girls think about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships. Every group that has fought for liberation understands that media images are part and parcel of the systematic dehumanization of an oppressed group. The more porn images filter into mainstream culture, the more girls and women are stripped of full human status and reduced to sex objects. This has a terrible effect on girls’ sexual identity because it robs them of their own sexual desire. Images have now become so extreme that acts that were almost non-existent a decade ago have become commonplace.

Pornography is a complex and controversial topic to address, as it affects peoples’ lives in different ways. When addressing pornography in a scientific setting, the biases surrounding this issue must be withheld. Due to moral and social stigmas surrounding pornography, a limited amount of research has been conducted, but it is worth exploring the current discussions surrounding it. Many aspects of pornography are difficult to translate into a scientific conversation due to their unclear definitions. It can affect different people’s lives in different ways. You need to figure out how it is affecting yours based on the changes you’re seeing in and around your life. 

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