Individuals Addicted to Internet Pornography See It As Positive and Negative

Viewing internet pornography (IP) is an activity that has grown dramatically in recent years. Some individuals who view IP admit that it has negatively impacted their lives by increasing their feelings of anxiety and depression and creating conflict within their intimate relationships. Some people who spend an excessive amount of time viewing IP experience problems with work, finances, and even sexual fulfillment. Others, however, do not develop problems resulting from IP. Research has demonstrated that IP use is caused by lack of impulse control, compulsive behavior and is often used as a coping mechanism. In the same way that substance misuse is used to avoid negative feelings or traumatic memories, IP is also used as a method of escape from unpleasant life experiences, whether present or past. IP users have reported that although they may be aware of the negative consequences associated with IP, they receive positive reinforcement through increased sexual pleasure that leads them to continue viewing IP. This cycle often results in many individuals becoming addicted to IP. Understanding the mechanisms that lead to IP addiction, and identifying whether impulsivity or compulsivity contribute to the factors that motivate IP use, were the focus of a recent study led by Chad T. Wetterneck of the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Wetterneck analyzed reports from 494 randomly selected adults and found that over 70% of them had viewed IP at one time or another. He discovered that impulsivity and avoidant coping techniques were the most common traits in the participants with sexual urges that resulted in IP. These same participants also reported that they thought IP produced both positive and negative results, but the positive result increased their sexual compulsions, which caused them to engage in more IP use. This cycle was further exacerbated in these same participants because as they used more IP, they reported having more problems and sexual compulsions, and they then chose to engage in avoidant coping strategies through more IP use. Overall, the users who reported the most use also reported that they felt they were addicted to IP. These findings clearly demonstrate the need for interventions designed to target the addictive effects of IP brought on by impulsive, compulsive, and avoidant behaviors. Wetterneck added, “Thus, when assessing problematic IP use, clinicians may focus on negative life outcomes related to its use, rather than relying solely on the report of perceived positive and negative effects.”

Wetterneck, C. T., Burgess, A. J., Short, M. B., Smith, A. H., Cervantes, M. E. (2012). The role of sexual compulsivity, impulsivity and experiential avoidance in internet pornography use. The Psychological Record, 62.1, 3-17.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Angela Giboney

    March 16th, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    We had some great teaching on this just a couple of weeks ago at my church. I hope that more people will come to see the danger and damage that this can do in relationships, and effective ways to help free people from the slavery the addiction causes.

  • Georgina

    March 16th, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Positive? How could something that is so damaging be viewed as something positive?
    Listen, this is what busted up my marriage. I was not going to play second fiddle to the hoochie mamas my husband chose to look at and interact with online.
    Now you tell me how there is anything at all remotely positive at all about that experience.

  • Jordan

    March 16th, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Obviously Georgina, this was a horrible thing to have happen to you. But looking at porn together CAN be a fun part of marriage. And just because you occasionally look does not mean you are addicted.

  • Robin

    March 17th, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    I’m with Georgina on this one. And Jordan you’ve missed the point. It’s immaterial if you become addicted. The porn industry damages those it uses and normalises sexual violence towards all women.

  • Carlton

    March 17th, 2012 at 7:24 AM

    It has grown in popularity, but is that a good thing? I think not. People are ruining their marriages, ruining their careers by looking at these things online that should be illegal anyway. Think of the hours of these lives that they will never get back and for what? Some time looking at things that should be held as sacred between a man and a woman in committed relationships to one another. It sickens me to think that our young people are looking at these images and seeing skewed versions of what love is and should be.

  • hank

    March 17th, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Well Carlton, vote Rick Santorum into office and it sounds like the two of you could be good buddies.

  • TOM

    March 18th, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    You are very right in comparing it to substance gives a high yes, but you are also ignoring the negative effects it has on your body in the process.All this while developing more of a crave for the same thing in the future.

  • Gil

    March 18th, 2012 at 5:41 AM

    I have found that there are far better ways to deal with traumatic memories than getting mindlessly lost in the quagmire of internet porn. How about talking to a real live person and letting someone in your life help you to heal? Believe me there are far better ways to get help than by losing yourself, literally, in this passtime that ultimately can wind up being so hurtful to you.

  • E Paul

    March 18th, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    Gil its not by choice that somebody gets addicted to porn. It develops gradually. In ways it’s like drugs you don’t know when you’re getting addicted and most often the person realizes after he has gone a little too far.

    Not easy but neither is it impossible to set yourself free from this folks.Seek out help and you will find it.

  • louisa B

    March 19th, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Don’t you think that there are those who know they need help but they are too embarassed to seek it out as you say?
    They would, but it is a lot harder to admit that you are addicyed to porn than say drugs or something like that.
    Pretty bad that maybe drugs are a little more socially acceptable than this particular vice.

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