David Ley, PhD, a clinical psychologist in practice in Albuquerque, NM, made an extensive review study of the current scientific literature discussing the idea of ‘porn addiction’. His summary is that, first of all, there’s no such thing as porn addiction, based on the currently published literature since the behavior described in this work can not be described as pathological.

porn-addictThe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual doesn’t have “porn addiction” under its classed addictions either, because of a the same lack of scientific data. Fewer than two in every five research articles (37 percent) about high frequency sexual behavior describe it as being an addiction. Only 27 percent (13 of 49) of articles on the subject contained actual data, while only one related psychophysiological study appeared in 2013.

Ley’s work argues that the scientific literature concerning the subject is extremely poor both qualitative and quantitative, accusing poor experimental designs, methodological rigor and lack of model specification of most studies surrounding it. Also, the the negative effects often discussed in porn addictions don’t seem to stand up. There was no sign that use of pornography is connected to erectile dysfunction, causes changes in the brain and it explains very little of the variance in adolescents’ behaviors.

Concerning positive effects, Ley and team found evidence that viewing pornographic images does not make it problematic de facto. It can improve attitudes towards sexuality, increase the quality of life and variety of sexual behaviors and increase pleasure in long-term relationships. It provides a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors or desires, and its consumption or availability has been associated with a decrease in sex offenses, especially child molestation.

“We need better methods to help people who struggle with the high frequency use of visual sexual stimuli, without pathologizing them or their use thereof,” writes Ley, who is critical about the pseudoscientific yet lucrative practices surrounding the treatment of so-called porn addiction. “Rather than helping patients who may struggle to control viewing images of a sexual nature, the ‘porn addiction’ concept instead seems to feed an industry with secondary gain from the acceptance of the idea.

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