Porn addiction myth debunked!

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There’s been a large anti-porn agenda lately because prude-groups have come to the conclusion that porn is addictive. “Porn addiction” has been the hottest new disease since “sex addiction” (which isn’t real either btw). Some people have gone as far as saying that watching porn triggers dangerous neurochemical changes in the brain.

Thankfully, nothing you may have heard about “porn addiction” is true according to a new study in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience of Psychology. It turns out that people with “porn addiction” just have high libidos and their minds have not been twisted by watching erotic films.

Religious and conservative groups have been using neuroscience vocabulary to strike fear in the hearts of normal people who like to watch porn. By saying things like “dopamine bursts” and “desensitization” to describe your brain on porn addiction, they’ve created an epidemic without properly researching the brains and behaviors of the people they’ve diagnosed with porn addiction.

The authors of Socioaffective Neuroscience of Psychology used brain imaging software to measure the effects of visual erotica on the brains of 52 men and women who felt they had a porn addiction. Sex addiction theory states that the brain patterns would be consistent with the brain patterns of cocaine addicts (because proponents of sex and porn addiction have often compare sex and porn to cocaine). As you may have guessed, the brain has specific electrical changes when responding to drug related cues.

If porn addiction was real (which it’s not), the test subjects viewing pornography would have had a diminished electrical response because an addict’s brain has a lower reward response. Instead, the subjects showed increased electrical responses to the porn they were shown, just like regular people who don’t have a porn addiction.

As a fail-safe, the authors of this study included measures of sexual desire/libido and sex addiction in questionnaires given to the participants. What they found was that people who identify themselves as sex addicts have the same brain patterns as normal people who identify with having a high libido.

Before we start celebrating our victory over the prudes, it’s important to remember that this is just one study and the anti-porn movement will be back with more scary neuroscience words to ruin our fun. Just know that your brain is normal. Sexual desire is normal. Porn is one of life’s many pleasures. And with all of life’s pleasures, enjoy in moderation.

(This blog post originally appeared on The Sex.com Blog)

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2 Responses to Porn addiction myth debunked!

  1. Wow, you have no idea what sex addiction is, and clearly have limited reading comprehension. The article points out that their hypothesis regarding correlation of drug and non drug addictions showing similar neural response did not show, HOWEVER, other neurostructural anomalies were detected, and is an avenue of further exploration in the research, thus validating the adverse health ramifications of sex addiction. Full article available here: http://www.socioaffectiveneuroscipsychol.net/index.php/snp/article/view/11814/19312

    Grossly taking information out of context and reporting only the information that you want to see does a huge disservice to your readers. Hopefully they have better critical thinking skills than mindlessly reading blogs.

    From the article you quoted… “The cerebral side was also explored in terms of anatomy and processes. The anatomical data did not support the first hypotheses of the authors. Indexes calculated by DTI did not show any significant difference between patients with CSB and control participants. These results were different than those of previous studies reporting a disorganization of the inferior frontal cortex in other categories of impulsivity disorders (Grant et al., 2006; Hoptman et al., 2002; Rüsch et al., 2007). Although no significant results were reported, some preliminary tendencies regarding anatomical data appeared. DTI indexes variations were reported for the superior frontal lobe between patients and control participants that supports an alteration of axons within this region. For neuroimaging, a very interesting approach is to perform correlational analyses between neuroimaging and behavioral data. For this specific study, authors demonstrated a correlation between impulsivity measures and white matter troubles for the inferior frontal gyrus. Similar results were demonstrated in studies dealing with compulsive obsessional disorders.”

    Also “On the neurobiological side, as shown by the data discussed in this article, the investigation of the role of the brain in emotions and motivations remained for a long time out of the range of cognitive neuroscience. A fortiori, it took a decade after the discovery of an imaging technique such as functional MRI to see the first studies on male sexual behavior appear. Although developing exponentially, the field remains largely unexplored for healthy sexual behavior. For sexual addiction, neuroscientists still have little data. However, these data are encouraging and suggest that the disorder observed on the behavioral side resonates with that observed on the neural side. The sexual affiliation model and its associated troubles could become one of the most second working model for the convergence and the dialog between psychoanalysis and neuroscience. Regarding therapy, these new addictions called ‘drug free addictions’ just began to be recognized and treated. Large clusters of research centers in clinical psychiatry are at the forefront of current research on these different ‘addictive practices’ and now host ‘sex addicts’. These new clinical configurations are an opportunity for clinical psychopathology invited to rethink some of its theoretical and technical cares. Clinical and scientific advances in this topic are of great interest for other fields (sociology, anthropology, epidemiology, and public health) in terms of their impact in reducing risk for HIV prevention.”

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