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Many people believe that porn addiction and sex addiction are the same disease, but this isn’t necessarily true. While there are a few similarities between the two addictions, the reality is that the two addictions are quite different and aren’t as interchangeable as many people consider them to be.
One of the notable differences between porn addiction and sex addiction is that sex addiction always involves another party. While people who suffer from porn addiction are often looking for images that are visually stimulating or new, these images can always be found on a computer or television screen. People who suffer from sex addiction, on the other hand, constantly try to find new partners or new ways to have riskier and riskier sex.
Many people might be surprised to learn that people who are addicted to porn often have a difficult time with normal sexual performance. Many people who are addicted to porn fail to become sexually aroused by real women, even women that they find themselves sexually attracted to. On the other hand, most people who are believed to suffer from a sex addiction do not typically report having sexual performance problems.
Porn addiction seems to be on the rise with the increasing use and availability of high speed internet access. The fact that people can download and view porn on their mobile devices will likely lead to a further increase of reported porn addiction cases. Sex addiction, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be increasing as rapidly as porn addiction is. However, with the high profile case of David Duchovny being diagnosed as a sex addict running through the media outlets a while back, there seems to be a possibility that people who were suffering from sexual addiction weren’t being diagnosed correctly, and therefore we might see an increase in the number of people who suffer from sex addiction because there is a greater awareness of sex addiction. However, the bottom line is that porn addictions are growing to become common, whereas sex addictions are typically uncommon.
Because porn is used as a masturbatory aid, many people equate becoming addicted to porn with becoming addicted to masturbating. Not only is this link false, but it also clouds the distinction between a porn addiction versus a sex addiction. After all, if a person is addicted to masturbating, shouldn’t that be considered a sexual addiction? This idea neglects one key fact: People do not generally become addicted to having sexual orgasms. Although orgasms can reinforce the constant usage and viewing of porn, the usage of porn for many porn addicts does not go hand in hand with masturbation. Some porn addicts, when going “cold turkey” on porn, find that they miss the porn more than they miss the masturbation.
Some researchers have theorized that being addicted to porn is like being addicted to smoking. In the same way that each puff on a cigarette allows the body to take in a bit of nicotine, viewing images of porn allows the brain to receive a bit of dopamine. On the other hand, many researchers view sex addiction as a type of personality disorder. Researchers have theorized that sex addiction can be classified as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.
It’s easy for people to hear the terms “porn addiction” and “sex addiction” and think that they’re related or are the same, but this is clearly not the case. Someone who is addicted to porn isn’t necessarily addicted to sex and vice-versa. While much of the subject matter in these addictions seems to be the same, these addictions differ in the way they rewire the brain.
Pornography Addiction in America has become an issue in the recent years especially with the use of the internet to aid its rise. We thought it best to put together an infographic showing just how big of an effect porn has on each individual in everyday life. Some of the facts are sure to make you start to realize it is becoming more of a problem than we may think.
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It’s human nature to crave intimacy; in fact, we can’t survive without it! Many of us have grown up believing that intimacy only means being close to someone sexually. This simply is not true. Intimacy is a close association or connection with others; this involves healthy touch, unconditional love, acceptance, and predictability. Any positive relationship is a type of intimacy.
Negative consequences result when the basic needs of children and adults go unmet. Physical malnutrition can result in delayed development and illness. Likewise, being emotionally starved results in unfulfilled relationships with self and others.
We experience contentment and peace when the following needs are met:
• Emotional Needs: to be loved and accepted with consistency and predictability.
• Spiritual Needs: to feel connected to life’s greater purposes and to experience cooperation, joy, and community.
• Physical Needs: to have sufficient food, clothing, and shelter. Appropriate physical affection and touching is also essential for our survival.
• Mental Needs: to have access to learning and opportunities for educational advancements and acquiring sufficient life skills.
We thrive on intimate interactions and relationships with others. When our need for intimacy is neglected, our lives seem unpredictable, hostile, and stressful. The desire to escape or take flight from this stress can be overwhelming. When these conditions are present, we’re more likely to seek sources of release through addictive, and often, abusive behaviors. Unfortunately, when the “vacation” from the stressful environment is over, we return to the same, if not worsened, conditions–the negative emotional environment in which we repeat our cycles of addiction.
“With sexual addiction, instant sexual gratification becomes the addict’s most important, all-consuming pursuit. Part of the elevated mood generated by the activity may involve risk. Special routines and patterns may be followed that increase excitement, usually concluding in a sexual event…over which the addict feels absolutely no control.” (P. 295 Darryl S. S. Inaba, Michael E. Holstein, William E. Cohen, Uppers, Downers, All Arounders, CNS Publications, Inc., July 2000, Edition Number: 4.)
Pornography is an illusionary solution to meet the intimate needs of any participant. It shortcuts the natural process of being physically, emotionally, and spiritually close to another. The sensations are superficial. The bitter irony is that pornography and the use of the Internet for sexual expression actually increases the likelihood of separation from others: the exact opposite of intimacy.
Through healthy, addictive-free, self-care strategies, we become more balanced, stable, and valuable to ourselves and others. By learning to contribute to, instead of taking from, a relationship, we stimulate its healthy growth and development.
Ask yourself: “Do I feel like I am dying physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually? Has my life become unmanageable?”
If you answered yes, please visit the Candeo website here.
Dr. Sondra Shepherd
A trusted friend taught me that stressful, painful situations in life act like the negative end on a battery: when it butts up against the positive end of another battery, that completes the electrical circuit so that the equipment can function. If the negative and the positive ends don’t connect, the electrical device doesn’t work. Likewise, as we assess the condition of our lives (the happy and the sad aspects) and identify needed changes, we connect to the bigger picture that involves our relationship with others. In this way, our painful experiences (like the negative end of a battery) can serve to motivate us—to power us forward.
We live in a world of opposites: black/white; hot/cold; happy/sad. Our environment is one of continual change—nothing stays the same. Understanding about these contrasts can be comforting in our stress filled lives. How? There is a rhythm in nature that we can rely upon, e.g. the tide comes in and goes back out, day follows night, etc. When you’re feeling “low,” know that it’s only a matter of time, combined with your effort, and you’ll experience feeling good again.
Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you or someone you care about is struggling with a pornography addiction. You’re probably thinking, “Well, that all sounds reasonable, but I don’t believe anything can really make me feel better—ever.” And guess what? You’re right! Nothing or nobody can make you feel better. That’s for you to decide. Happiness is not based on a geographic location—it’s a choice—a feeling we choose to have inside of ourselves. No one can take that away from us. Not ever! And we take it with us wherever we go.
How do we go from feeling miserable to feeling good? It doesn’t happen all at once. It took you awhile to get where you are, and it will take time to arrive at your new destination. It’s a step-by-step process, not a single event. Overwhelmed you might ask, “So, where do I begin?”
The answer is: “You already have! You’re right here, right now, reading this article. You’re becoming more aware that you’re responsible for your life and you have some choices to make.”
Pornography addiction is rooted in thinking miserable thoughts and the resulting miserable feelings from thinking those thoughts. On a piece of paper, list the things you’re truly grateful for. Sometimes, that’s difficult. There’s a quote that goes something like this: “I wished for shoes until I saw a man that had no feet.” Practice relating your situation to something much worse and yours will always look good. Once you’ve identified what you’re grateful for, reach out and help someone less fortunate. It may be as simple as holding the door open for an elderly gentleman as he leaves the grocery store.
To learn more about the brain science behind pornography addiction visit candeohealthysexuality.com now.
Dr. Sondra Shepherd
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.”
Did you know that: when you break a cookie in half, the calories leak out? And, when you cut a single serving of cake crooked, you can “even it up” and eat the trimmings without increasing the serving size? Of course, we know better! However, these are the kinds of games we play with ourselves.
Naturally, just as we tend to love sweets, we seek and enjoy other pleasurable experiences. In a society that promotes instant credit, instant breakfast, and overnight success, even saying the word “patience” tastes like vinegar!
Recently, my 15-year-old daughter asked me to lend her some money to enjoy a night of fun with her friends. I produced the money upon her agreement to “work it off—soon.” The inevitable day came that she promised to come straight home from school to do her job. However, more fun presented itself; she obtained permission from her dad, (who was unaware of our “deal”), to go to a sporting event instead. When I got wind of it, I promptly called her cell phone and we had a few words. From the tone of her voice, I imagined she was rolling her eyes. “M-o-m,” she said, without the least sign of endearment, “I only told you I would unless something else better came along!”
“You know a deal’s a deal,” I snapped back. “Don’t try and fool me!”
Ah, if we could only learn to tell ourselves, “Don’t fool me!”
Can you truthfully say you are free of porn while you’re still addicted to drugs, alcohol, or while you “just have sex a lot”? How many ways can we slice the pie before we’ve eaten every crumb? How many “mumbled apologies” can we give to ourselves and others, before we lose our credibility?
It’s an oldie, but goodie, from our friend, William Shakespeare:
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” (or woman, or boss, or child, etc.)
If you’re saying, “Recovery from addiction works for other people, but not for me. I’ve tried so many times, but I can’t stop”—Take heart! Your magnificent brain that learns by repetition—(that’s how habits/addictions are formed!)—can learn how to form new, healthy habits. Imagine how nice it will be to say: “I am happy—deep down, all around, and on the surface happy.”
Recovery is not only possible, but probable! To learn more about the brain science behind pornography addiction visit the Candeo website here.
Dr. Sondra Shepherd
Life Skills Coach
Michelle Manwaring, MSW, LCSW
The term addiction may be described as a recurring compulsion to engage in an activity despite adverse consequences. We have many addictive vices today, some more noticeable to us than others. Pornography may be classified as a silent addiction because the outward physical appearance would not show obvious signs, and we may not be clued in to the possibilities of a pornography addiction if we just looked for physical symptoms.
It is recommended that we place carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in our home that will sound the alarm for impending danger. These toxins can be deadly, but can go unnoticed because one is odorless and the other can come upon us while we are sleeping.
Pornography can be just as subtle. While the signs may be difficult to recognize, they are there, and if we become more aware of them, we can, in many cases, deal with them while they are still in the “smoke” stage, before they burn down the entire structure of our lives.
Smoke signals have been used to transmit news as well as signal danger. Let’s look at some of the smoke signals that may give you a clue that someone may have a problem.
The question is often asked, “How can I tell if my child, spouse, or friend is addicted to pornography?” While there is no test to take and no sure way of knowing, there are several signs that may give you a clue.
You’ve heard the statement “Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire?” When it comes to pornography, the smoke can come from small sparks, burning embers or a raging fire. And like a fire, after we see the extent of the damage, investigators, often, must uncover the rubble to find the cause of the fire. So it is with pornography: we sometimes don’t know the cause or the extent of the damage until we pay attention to the details, look around, and even investigate.
With extended use of the computer, some of the physical symptoms of pornography addiction may show up as sore, dry eyes and strained vision. Back, neck and headaches and even pain and numbness in the hands and wrists, are common. Because of long hours, and losing track of time, many occurring while family members are sleeping, there can be complaints of fatigue and sleep disturbances. Decreased ability to concentrate, forgetfulness, and aloofness from conversation is also common. One can get so involved that eating patterns get disrupted. Some forget to eat, and so you may see weight loss. Conversely, others may eat compulsively while spending hours on the computer; gain weight rapidly.
Other smoke signals to look for are an increase in risky sexual behaviors, i.e. visiting strip clubs, prostitutes, or massage parlors. A detachment from financial responsibilities or the making of irresponsible financial decisions may manifest itself. The porn addict often thinks “It’s all over for me anyway, so I’m going down with the ship.” As the addict goes on long binges, he forgets about the consequences to others, and fails to realize that often, a wife and children are on that “ship,” not knowing how close they all are to hitting an iceberg. The potential for involvement in the criminal justice system, with illegal pornography, is common, as some pornography addicts must continually seek more and more depraved stimulus. For many, this can be found in using child pornography.
If your partner gets irritable or ornery when time on the computer is interrupted, this should be a HUGE red flag. Many pornography addicts have trouble completing tasks at work and at home, due to lack of concentration and uncontrolled thoughts about their next fix. Isolation from family and friends, one of the most common “smoke signals” will find the porn addict giving excuses, and wanting to stay home when there are family gatherings, parties or invitations. Neglecting family and excusing yourself from the activity…due to the preoccupation with pornography, is often a dead giveaway that something is terribly wrong.
Lying to your family or coworkers about what you do online, or about the amount of time you spend online cannot always be proven, but “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . .” you know where I’m going. Pornography is all about secrecy and having to tell lies or cover your tracks. Detachment, dissatisfaction or lack of intimacy in your sexual relationship with increasing emotional distancing, can also be the telltale signs of heavy involvement with pornography. One of the reasons being, that with pornography addicts, they actually become part of the fantasy, without any rejection, responsibility or consequence from a real life partner. Be on the lookout for constant mood changes, which usually show up as depression, bouts of anxiety, irritation and anger.
Though most men involved with pornography will deny that they do this, look for constant turning of the head for second or third looks when passing others in the mall, or other public places. Some are so good at not moving their heads to disguise this, and will only move their eyes. It may be more difficult to notice this, but behavior never lies, and if you see this often enough, you may be getting a smoke signal, sending you a message: there’s a possible disaster in the making here.
Listen for expressions like “I’m such a loser,” or, “how could you love me.” As you scratch your head and wonder “where did that come from?” It is almost certain that something is going on that you aren’t aware of. Why should you? Your spouse/partner hasn’t really given any indication that you can see, or that something is not right.
Just because a spouse has had a bad day at work, or a long night at the computer doing legitimate office “catch up” doesn’t mean you need to become Sherlock Holmes overnight. But if you suspect any of the above, and your “smoke detector” is going off in your head, you may want to begin to ask some questions before the smoke turns into fire.
To learn more about the brain science behind pornography addiction visit the Candeo website here.