Is Your Online Porn Use Spiraling Out Of Control?

Is Your Online Porn Use Spiraling Out Of Control?

November 1st, 2017 @

So you’ve tried many times to limit or control your porn use. You stop. You feel good for a bit and in control of things. Your concentration returns as well as your focus. You may be off it long enough to start feeling more connected to other areas of your life. Then something happens and you find yourself back on it and you binge. Later you feel guilt, shame and familiar feelings of self-blame surface but now you are back on it and you don’t feel you can stop right now. The cycle repeats. Sound familiar?

It’s hard to control your porn use. You obsess over it, you fantasise about it, thinking of using porn excites you in a way that other areas of your life may no longer seem to. You may even have rituals or routines about using porn that feel engrained and habitual. Especially as they may involve familiar objects you regularly use in your day-to-day life such as your smartphone, home or work PC and the ever present internet.

Life does not have to be like this.

Sex or porn ‘addiction’ is not formally recognized as a diagnosable condition and there is a debate about how to assess or classify problematic porn use. Neuroscience has enabled us to better understand how primary centres of the brain related to reward, motivation and memory are affected by addiction. There is recent research, from the University of Cambridge, that identified similar activity in three specific regions of the brain of men affected by compulsive sexual behaviour as would be usually be found in similar studies with drug addicts. You can read more about this on a previous blog post on menstuff.

Compulsive or problematic use of sex, or porn, is commonly understood as occurring when someone has difficulty limiting or controlling their sexual thoughts, feeling and behaviour – to the extent that this is affecting or impacting other areas of their life, such as work, leisure time, finances, relationships or family.

One aspect that often comes up with people I consult, is how over time you can become de-sensitised to the images and material that you initially found stimulating and rewarding. You find yourself ‘needing’ to access different and newer forms of online pornography to get that same kind of stimulation that you are searching for. For some there may be concerns around how others would respond if they were aware of their porn use. This can understandably raise powerful feelings of shame or guilt and anxiety or even paranoia over being ‘found out.’

In this search for stimulating material, a person may also start to use other forms of porn or sexual activities such as live streaming, sexting or even using dating sites for hook ups.

New research by a leading team at the University of Cambridge has further developed on our understanding of these patterns of compulsive or problematic sexual behaviours and their links to the proliferate amount of porn material available on the internet. In this research they studied the behaviour of sex ‘addicts’ and ‘healthy’ male volunteers undergoing tasks.

Dr Valerie Voon’s findings published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, found that sex ‘addicts’ – seem more driven to seek out new and more novel sexual images than the norm. These findings are relevant and give more understanding into how online porn, with its endless supply of new material could enable porn use to become more compulsive and problematic.

“We can all relate in some way to searching for novel stimuli online – it could be flitting from one news website to another, or jumping from Facebook to Amazon to YouTube and on,” explains Dr. Voon in the article. “For people who show compulsive sexual behaviour, though, this becomes a pattern of behaviour beyond their control, focused on pornographic images.”

The researchers also reported the sex ‘addicts’ were more susceptible to environment ‘cues’ linked to sexual images. The research showed that sex ‘addicts’ were more likely to choose cues associated with sexual and monetary rewards. The study notes how this supports the theory that apparently innocuous ‘cues’ in a person’s environment may ‘trigger’ their online porn use.

“Cues can be as simple as just opening up their internet browser,” Dr. Voon comments in the article. “They can trigger a chain of actions and before they know it, the addict is browsing through pornographic images. Breaking the link between these cues and the behaviour can be extremely challenging.”

The researchers also identified the sex ‘addicts’ experienced a decrease in activity in a brain region involved in reward anticipation and response to new events when they viewed the same sexual images repeatedly. The study notes how this supports the theory of ‘habituation’, where the addict finds the same stimulus less and less rewarding. This may mean that in order to prevent ‘habituation’, the sex or porn ‘addict’ is driven to seek out a supply of new and different sexual images or material on the internet.

“Our findings are particularly relevant in the context of online pornography,” Dr. Voon is quoted in the article. “It’s not clear what triggers sex addiction in the first place and it is likely that some people are more pre-disposed to the addiction than others, but the seemingly endless supply of novel sexual images available online helps feed their addiction, making it more and more difficult to escape.”

This important piece of research supports and validates what many users of porn may already experience and possibly the nature of the issues you may struggle with on a daily basis as you attempt to manage and control your behaviour. The reality is that the internet and technology is a part of regular life or even your work activities. Yet these aspects of your daily life may be a ‘cue’ or trigger for you to use porn time and again despite your best intentions to stop.

Neuroscience has enabled us to understand that the processes of addiction are more complex than previously thought and treating addiction means more than simply going cold-turkey and you are fixed. Addiction affects the brain regions related to memory and reward which reinforces and underlines the behaviour.

For someone struggling with problematic porn use this could indicate they may have ‘learnt’ to cope with life and make themselves feel better about things through compulsive patterns related to their porn use.

This could mean that in order for you to bring control back into your porn use, the underlying issues that led you to start to cope with the difficulties of life in this way also need to be addressed and faced. If you can allow yourself the time, effort and space to work on your issues and concerns with a health professional, in a confidential and non-judgemental environment, then you may be able to develop new insight and understanding into your behaviour. This process may then enable you to discover different options in how you cope with what life throws at you rather than automatically finding yourself turning to porn.

Mark Tonkinson

Menstuff

www.menstuff.com.au

 


Category : Addictions &Blog &Featured &Porn

Comments are closed.

Latest Posts

Testimonial

"I went to see Harley feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, with challenges in all areas of my life. Through a number of sessions, I came to feel focused, more certain and refreshed. Seeing him not only gave me fantastic support at a difficult time, but at last I feel like I am in the driver’s seat in my life and my business. Harley has a natural and intuitive approach, and seems to draw from a great depth of technique and experience in his work. I would recommend him unreservedly for this kind of work. Thanks for your amazing help and support during this time!"

Paul – Business Owner, Sydney