Does everyone look at pornography on-line. No, not everyone, but the majority of men admit to it, and a lot of women admit to it as well.
Based on the surveys, as many as 3.5 million New York City residents look at porn on-line and close to 700,000 people in Manhattan alone. Now not everyone that looks at porn regularly has a problem.
But, if you find yourself spending hours, and find it difficult to stop, you are not alone. Based on one study, it is likely that there are more than one million people in NYC that meet the criteria for problematic sexual compulsivity and watch porn on-line regularly.
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Diagnosing Porn Addiction
While you may not know what to call it, “Porn Addiction,” “Porn Compulsivity,” “an impulse control disorder,” “OCD attached to porn,” or something else, you know what it looks and feels like.
• Do you find yourself watching porn and trying to set a time limit that you push past?
• Or say “Only one more site,” and then end up going to another porn site, and another?
• Do you lose hours to on-line pornography that you wish you could get back?
• Do you feel empty?
• Do you feel guilt? Shame? Embarrassment?
• Has it made sex and intimacy less satisfying in the real world, less appealing?
• Have you had any difficulty performing sexually or getting as aroused?
• Are you afraid your partner may find out and judge, or even reject, or break it off with you, if what you’ve been watching was revealed?
• Have you put yourself at risk at work by viewing things on work computers or devices, or by not getting enough sleep, or getting your work done because of hours viewing pornography on-line?
While there is not yet an agreed upon label, i.e., porn addiction, or compulsive porn viewing, it is clear that it is difficult to stop, takes up many hours per week of time, and there is a lot of emotional suffering that goes along with it. There are certainly intense positive feelings at times, but there can also be plenty of lows, accompanied by guilt, shame, and embarrassment, and even self anger afterwards. You may even feel hopeless, since quitting has seemed so impossible.
Is Porn Addiction Bad for You?
For some New Yorkers, viewing porn may not have a negative impact on their relationships, sexual performance, emotional or psychological life, or career.
There are many people addicted to viewing porn on-line who may be wrecking their lives in various ways. Take the case of Greg. Greg’s use of porn started at home on his computer. While he manages to find a way to do it privately, his wife certainly has been impacted since he seems exhausted, distracted, and a lot less interested in initiating sex with her. He tells her he is doing work late on the computer, but something seems to be different to her. Lately he has been starting to use his phone to see porn as well. And he’s even slipped and used his work computer as well—that really scared him. Controlling this habit feels impossible. Now he’s worried he could get into trouble at work, not for being behind because he isn’t as productive since he’s missing sleep, but because he’s visited those sites on a work computer, while he’s on the clock. This is all feels out of control, scares him, and is making him feel anxious, embarrassed, ashamed, and angry at himself. All of these emotions can be overwhelming.
For many, the suffering can be intense, the time lost can be long, and the potential risks and costs to one’s family and career can be incredibly high. Whether or not there is scientific consensus on generalizing about pornography being good or bad, I think the most important question for you is, “Does the way you view pornography increase or decrease your quality of life?”
If your answer is that it decreases it, then who cares what the scientific community thinks the impact is overall on the population, and who cares if the psychiatric community hasn’t decided what to call it? You have something that is causing you to suffer and that is stealing satisfaction from your life. And, if you are like most people with this issue, it has been incredibly hard to get control of it on your own.
Porn Addiction Treatment in New York City
Treatment for porn addiction does exist. There have not been many controlled trials. On-line pornography hasn’t been around as long as alcohol or many drugs, so coupled with the lack of a diagnosis, many studies have not been done yet. But, on-line porn is more accessible than illicit drugs, and even easier to get than a beer—anyone with a smart phone can pull it up 24 hours a day, no matter where you are, you can get it, no dealer other than AT&T or Sprint needed.
Fortunately, there is hope. Specific techniques in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) can work to help you suffer less. You can learn how to decrease the number of hours you spend watching porn on-line, decrease your guilt, shame, embarrassment, frustration, depression, and helplessness. Reduce the risks that you may get into trouble at work, a fight with your partner, and increase your satisfaction and performance in your sex life.
If you have questions about treatment for porn or sex addiction, or want to schedule an appointment, please call my office.
While we may not know what to call it, we know it hurts, and we know there is help.