What is Porn Addiction?

Porn addiction is an ongoing pattern of compulsive porn use that causes problems for the addict and those who love and care for the addict. Addiction to pornography is identified and diagnosed based on the following criteria:

  1. The person has a persistent inability to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in recurring patterns of online sexual activity.
  2. These patterns manifest over an extended period (6 months or more).
  3. These repetitive patterns of sexual behavior are negatively affecting family, social relationships, school and/or work.
  4. These repetitive sexual activities become such an essential life focus that the individual neglects their health and personal care or other interests, activities and responsibilities.
  5. The person has lost control over their ability to manage sexual fantasy and behavior (often evidenced by multiple prior failed attempts to quit or cut back).
  6. Other symptoms may include continued repetitive sexual behavior despite negative consequences and/or receiving little or no satisfaction from the behavior
  7. The person spends more time in online sexual fantasy than in real life relationships (of all kinds)
  8. The person struggles to enjoy close relationships and sexual/romantic intimacy in real life.
  9. The person experiences low arousal toward real-world sexual stimulations thereby making live, interactive sex either unavailable or unenjoyable.
  10. Over time, porn use and related online sexual activity profoundly isolates the individual from social activities, community involvement, and from peer and pair bonds.
Over time porn addicts become increasingly distracted by need to consistently view porn regardless of outward success, intelligence, physical attractiveness, existing relationships etc. They spend inordinate amounts of time searching for porn, viewing porn, and organizing porn collections. Once viewing, it can become near impossible to stop at will. Porn obsession evolves to the point where important relationships, interests, and responsibilities all take a back seat to the online experience. Some porn can feel more live and connecting in the moment, example; cam girls/boys, ultimately leaving the user lonelier (and more broke) than when they started.

Often feeling shameful or remorseful and isolated, porn addicts will tell themselves, “This is the last time I am going to use this porn” or “I will never spend more than a hour looking” but in a few days or weeks they’re right back where they started. Some will delete profiles, wipe hard drives and the like to ‘eliminate porn’ only to scramble to reassemble their collection soon after. Some can spin in such ‘delete and reassemble’ cycles for years on end.

Recently, Dr. Robert Weiss identified two distinct categories of porn addiction.

I. Traditional porn addicts, many of whom self-identify as sex addicts who struggle with porn as part of their addiction, tend to have underlying trauma issues that drive their addiction—neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, covert incest, etc. This puts traditional porn addicts in line with alcoholics, drug addicts, compulsive gamblers, and the like. In fact, there is a large body of research identifying unresolved childhood trauma as a huge risk factor addiction (of all types).

II. ‘Digital age’ or ‘conditioned’ porn addicts represents Dr. Weiss’ second category of porn addict. This new and rapidly growing subtype of porn addicts easily meets the criteria for porn addiction but lacks the underlying early-life trauma that typically drives an addiction. Typically, digital age/conditioned porn addicts are individuals who start using porn at a young age (often before puberty hits) and don’t move beyond it.

Unfortunately, many (if not most) mental health and addiction professionals encountering porn problems are unaware of these differences, thereby treating all people with sexual problems with the same approach and methodology. At Seeking Integrity, we understand that behaviors specific to each client matter to that client, thus we create individualized treatment plans focused on the needs of each unique person we encounter.

Speak with a Seeking Integrity Staff Member Regarding Treatment. Call (747) 234-4325
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