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Internet Porn Addiction Restricts the Likelihood for Intimacy and Respect

answered 06:07 PM EST, Fri March 16, 2012
If I look at porn on the internet every night that is degrading to women am I a sex addict? I do not know why I am attracted to this type of movie. Will looking at porn that is degrading to women make me think of women in a different way during the day? I am not very comfortable talking to women but I am trying. I have an online relationship with a woman for the first time in a while. It feels like a lie to talk nicely to her one minute and then switch to watching movies the next.

I do not want to become the kind of person that thinks badly of women because I really do not feel that way now. I do not want to become like the people I see humiliating women on the videos I watch, but I always go back to watching these types of videos. Afterwards I am disgusted with myself. I am confused about why I do this and about whether I have a problem and if I do, what the consequences of this problem might be for me.

Delisted Expert Says...

I would like to thank you in advance for an excellent, thoughtful question. First, let’s consider the definition of sexual addiction. Dr. Michael Herkov defines sexual addiction as:

Sexual addiction is best described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Like all addictions, its negative impact on the addict and on family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results. For some sex addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography or phone or computer sex services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or rape. (See website: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/).

The International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) helps individuals who have concerns about sexual addiction by offering a free confidential online sexual addiction screening test (SAST). This organization has the most highly trained trauma and sexual addiction professionals, information, and professional training. To gain an objective measure of sexual addiction, I would encourage you to take this test at: http://www.sexhelp.com/am-i-a-sex-addict/sex-addiction-test. If you discover that you have issues surrounding sexual addiction, this website can put you in touch with fine treatment options and therapists. If you do not think you have clearly identified if you are sexually addicted or not, you can take a longer confidential online sexual addiction risk assessment which can be found at: http://www.sexhelp.com/am-i-a-sex-addict/sexual-addiction-risk-assessment. Although there is a cost for this 23 page report; this assessment can help you identify your risk for sexual addiction.

If you would like to know more about how internet porn addiction plays out in the life of people, I would highly recommend a book that could be helpful to those struggling with compulsive sexual behaviors. The book is “In the Shadow of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior” by Dr. Patrick Carnes, a prominent expert on sexual addiction. Most internet sex addicts recognize their addiction by reading this book and others.

One last resource I would like you to know about is an article on ChooseHelp.com. This article discusses ten ways a person can gain more control over his daily use of the internet. The link to this article is: http://www.choosehelp.com/topics/sex-addiction/no-more-surfing-for-sex-or-porn-10-tips-for-controlling-your-internet-use.

Finally, can your daily use of pornography affect your perspective, the way you think, relate to, respect, and treat women? The answer is yes. The reason is because pornography encourages men to (1) objectify women sexually, (2) to begin thinking and treating them as sex “objects” rather than whole human beings. Women have become very sensitized to men who objectify them or their body parts. If you would like to establish, maintain, and enjoy an intimate relationship with a woman, it would be in your best interest to not engage in daily pornography. Another aspect to consider is how pornography affects how you feel about yourself after viewing pornography. How long would you treat someone who disgusted you in a caring and loving way? What if that person is you? How we treat ourselves can often become a strong clue to how we are going to treat others ultimately. To find out more about the personal damage from internet addiction, go to the Center for Internet Addiction at: http://www.netaddiction.com/.

Did I definitively determine whether you are a sex addict? The answer is no because I have not thoroughly assessed you. You now have resources to self-assess or gain a referral to a sexual addiction therapist who can provide you with a professional assessment. My hope is that you will continue to think as this problem as serious, potentially progressive and destructive. Help can also be found in community support groups available such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sexual Recovery Anonymous.

I do want you to know that this problem can be treated successfully if it is decided that you suffer from sexual addiction. If I may be of further assistance, please let me know.

Best of luck moving forward,

John W. O’Neal, Ed.S, MSW, MA, LPC, NCC

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Page last updated Mar 16, 2012

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