Internet Pornography Temptations and Responses

Responses to Internet Temptations

The internet had provided wondrous benefits for information sharing. It has also ushered in new risks for easy, anonymous viewing of sexually explicit information – behaviors that are less likely when they require more conscious, public interactions to obtain them. Below are some useful definitions and suggestions related to this pernicious problem.


Addiction 1. an abnormally strong craving; 2. being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming.

Continuing to engage in any behavior despite clear costs in our lives.
Sex Addiction (signs of)1. Constantly searching for partners, who are used as “things” to lower anxiety and boost self-esteem. 2. Compulsive use of erotica. Spending a lot of money on it, hiding, hoarding. 3. So much use of the Internet for sexual stimulation and to find partners that it interferes with life. 4. Demanding sex constantly in a relationship; using coercion or manipulation to get it.
Compulsion 1. an irrational motive for performing trivial or repetitive actions against your will; 2. maladaptive drive to behave in ways that reduce anxiety

Pornography: The depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement”

The Encyclopedia of Ethics, “the sexually explicit depiction of persons, in words or images, created with the primary, proximate aim, and reasonable hope, of eliciting significant sexual arousal on the part of the consumer of such materials.”

Obscenity “Something that is disgusting to the senses, abhorrent to morality, designed to incite lust or depravity”
Legally pornography (legal protected by 1st Amendment-freedom of speech) is distinguished from obscenity (unprotected speech that can be limited for public welfare)

Paraphilia: The Paraphilias (deviant attraction) are characterized by recurrent, intense sexual urges, fantasies, or behaviors that involve unusual objects, activities, or situations and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. (DSM-IV)
Fetishism: deriving sexual arousal from using or thinking about inanimate objects

This was limited to describing sexual acts (often while engaging in self-stimulating acts) performed in real time via a digital medium. Now technology provides access to engaging in activities with tactile sensing/stimulating suits and devices via the computer.

Suggestions to change unwanted behaviors

What usually doesn’t work?

Guilt/Shame – Telling ourselves how horrible that behavior was/horrible people we are. Shaming ourselves to better behavior doesn’t work.
· This satisfies our need for justice/punishment but the emotional and physiological effect is to grow our distress and tension.
· This is a set-up to repeating indulgence behaviors to find relief. (Frequent flier miles)

Will Power – Telling ourselves we won’t do this anymore. I take it as a poor prognostic indicator for change when people site will power as their intended means for change.
· It certainly loses effectiveness as the strength of the drive increases and as recurrences of undesired behavior increase.
· Most important is that when we’ve repeatedly failed to see change using these means, it is time to do something different

“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” Albert Einstein

What steps tend to help?
1. Set specific goals for steps of progress (Successive approximations)
2. Change aspects/settings around behaviors (smokers change brands)
3. Change environment so as not to face “irresistible impulse”
4. Develop accountability to others (support groups are great for this)
5. Reinforce/celebrate steps of progress
6. Stress management (reduce stressors, develop coping capacities, increase positive life events, practice relaxation)

Professional assistance:
· Coaching/support in making behavior change
· Grow insight into forces that drive addictive or compulsive behaviors
· Many patients are helped by the SSRI type of antidepressants, such as Prozac, that increase serotonin and other “feel good” brain chemicals and can reduce libido. Talk with your physician if interested in pursuing this.